The Louisiana Community and Technical College System's board of supervisors has tapped William Wainwright, a veteran of the system and head of Northshore Technical Community College since 2011, as interim chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans.

Wainwright's appointment, which took effect Thursday, followed the departure of Joan Davis, who announced Aug. 31 that she would step down to take a job as the system's vice president of administration and policy.

System President Monte Sullivan said the search for Davis' successor will begin with discussions at the next board meeting, but he said he expects it to draw national applicants.

Davis, who came to Delgado four years ago from Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had an annual salary of $185,000 at Delgado.

Sullivan said Wainwright will provide a steady hand at the wheel for Delgado, which is the second-largest college in the state. Wainwright's contract is through the end of the year, but Sullivan said he expects a new chancellor will be found by then.

Sullivan said Davis approached him recently and said she wanted to get back into shaping system policy, which she had done in Alabama prior to taking the job as Delgado chancellor.

He praised Davis for her leadership during Delgado's expansion of the Sidney Collier Campus and the opening of the River City Campus and the Maritime and Industrial Training Center.

Delgado's new River City campus on west bank to further workforce development

Sullivan, who preceded Davis as Delgado's chancellor, also praised her for her leadership during "the most difficult budget environment" in the school's history, a period that saw cuts to Delgado's faculty and curriculum.

The reductions prompted an outcry among some faculty and students, but Sullivan said Davis helped put the school on a "sound financial footing."

Delgado, which has eight campuses across the New Orleans area, has 20,394 students, according to its website.

Changes loom for Delgado Community College, with faculty, program cuts likely

Board Chairman Stephen Toups called Wainwright an experienced leader who is "very knowledgeable of the local and business community in the greater New Orleans region. We believe he is the best fit to continue moving the college forward."

Wainwright's base salary at Delgado is $175,811.

His duties at Northshore Technical will be handled by an acting chancellor to be appointed by the system's board.

Northshore has campuses in Lacombe, Hammond, Bogalusa and Greensburg.

Wainwright has been in the state's community college system for 20 years. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a graduate degree in adult education from Northwestern State University and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of New Orleans.

Sullivan said the next chancellor will have to lead Delgado during a time of growth in the metro area's health care and high tech sectors and must demonstrate a commitment to providing opportunities for a diverse pool of students to connect with jobs across the economy.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.