LSU President F. King Alexander is leaving after a little more than six years at the state flagship university’s helm to run Oregon State University.

[See latest on F. King Alexander's move to Oregon State here]

Addressing the Oregon State's board of trustees shortly after they announced their decision, Alexander said he was excited about joining the Beaver Nation, referring to the athletic team’s mascot.

"We are thrilled to be a part of this institution," he said. "Go Beevs."

The Oregon State trustees moved unanimously to hire Alexander effective July 1 as the 15th president of the school. After the vote, the meeting adjourned and Alexander retired to a reception to meet alumni, faculty and university leaders.

Outgoing Oregon State President Ed Ray and Alexander had fought together in Washington, D.C. for affordable higher education, he said.

Meeting on the Corvallis, Oregon campus, the board named Alexander as the winner of a six-month selection process that interviewed 68 candidates.

Oregon State is in Corvallis, a town of about 55,000 between Eugene and Portland, Oregon. The university has a total undergraduate enrollment of 25,699 and is ranked 139 by U.S. News & World Report.

The LSU System has about 45,000 students, operates six campuses, two medical schools, a hospital, a cooperative extension service, a healthcare research institution and has oversight of the private administrators for the state’s charity hospitals. In addition to running the system, the LSU president also is chancellor of the flagship campus in Baton Rouge, which is ranked 153 by U.S. News & World Report.

Oregon State Board of Trustees Chair Rani Borkar said she had trouble getting her head around all that Alexander oversaw and accomplished at LSU. She cited his efforts to expand diversity among the student population and increase graduation rates at LSU. She wanted Alexander to do the same there.

“At OSU, we recognize that we are better together,” Borkar said.

Oregon State President Ray, who makes about $809,000 a year, about $100,000 more than Alexander, announced he would step down in June 2020 after leading the university for 17 years. Alexander said it is rare for a university leader to be in place for nearly two decades.

The LSU board evaluated Alexander’s job performance in October and voted to give him a raise.

Alexander, 56, came to LSU in July 2013 after heading Cal State Long Beach for seven years. He shepherded the LSU System through tough budgetary times when the Louisiana Legislature and former Gov. Bobby Jindal slashed state appropriations for higher education by roughly half. Gov. John Bel Edwards stopped cutting university budgets in 2016.

He is a Kentucky native who grew up in Gainesville at the University of Florida and received his Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Check back with The Advocate for more details

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.