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Shrubbery spells out 'SOUTHERN,' with A.W. Mumford football stadium in background, at entrance to campus, Wed., Nov. 16, 2017.

The Southern University System will take part in an unprecedented partnership with the Central Intelligence Agency under a plan ratified Friday morning by the system's Board of Supervisors.

Under the plan, Southern schools will take part in the CIA's recruitment and workforce development initiative.

It is part of the White House's initiative on historically black colleges and universities.

"Southern University is honored to have been chosen as the first institution to partner with the CIA for this initiative," Ray Belton, president of the system and chancellor of the Baton Rouge campus, said in a statement.

"The reputable stature of the CIA alone is an asset to the university, students and faculty, and we believe that the outcomes will be mutually beneficial for all involved," Belton said.

The memorandum of understanding allows the CIA to take part in classroom activities, curriculum development and recruitment activities and to foster relationships with key university staff at Southern's five campuses.

Sheronda Dorsey, chief of staff acquisition for the CIA, addressed the board meeting in a call from Washington, D. C.

"As an agency we've always prided ourselves in hiring the best and the brightest," Dorsey said, also in a statement. 

"Southern demonstrates the value that they have placed in multiple fields of study and global awareness," she said. "I look forward to a long-lasting partnership."

The MOU was signed by Belton, Executive Vice-President-Chancellor James Ammons and officials of the CIA.

The system includes campuses in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport and the Southern University Law Center and the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.