Gov. John Bel Edwards called the LSU Board of Supervisors’ unanimous selection of William Tate IV as the university’s next president “a historic moment” for the state’s flagship school.
Tate will be the first African American to hold the position at LSU and in the SEC.
The board voted 15-0 in favor of Tate.
“This is a historic moment for the Louisiana State University system, as Dr. Tate will become the University’s first African American president and also the first African American university president in the Southeastern Conference,” Edwards said in a statement. “He has expressed a desire to ensure that more students have the opportunity for higher education at the schools in LSU’s system, including more minority students, those from rural areas and those who face financial challenges.
“He will also be charged with attracting first class researchers and research funding to our state as we seek to continue and expand LSU’s role as a national leader in innovation and discovery. I share this goal of making higher education more accessible to students from all walks of life and all areas of our state and beyond and in growing the system’s prominence and I welcome his experience, vision and insight. I congratulate Dr. Tate.”
Tate, who has most recently served as Education Foundation Distinguished Professor and Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of South Carolina, is expected to begin his term as president in July.
In a statement after the vote, Tate said he is excited to be a part of the LSU system.
“What I’m really most excited about is I met students here who really are amazing, and for me, this position is all about what we can do to help students and give people access and opportunity in higher education,” Tate said.
“That’s really in my DNA, how do we help people regardless of their background – we find the money, get you here and give you the opportunity to live your dream. I think there is no better place in the United States to come find your dream and to make it happen than right here at LSU.”
He’ll replace Tom Galligan, who has served as LSU’s interim president since January 2020. Galligan, who last month withdrew his name from consideration for the permanent position, has already announced plans to return to the Paul M. Hebert Law Center.
In his statement, Edwards also lauded Galligan for serving “admirably” in his interim role.
“I also want to thank Interim President Tom Galligan, who I came to know first when he was my law school professor and even more so over the past year as he has served admirably as the University’s interim president during a difficult time, for his continued service to the University and our state,” Edwards said.
Tate will enter the position during a trying time in the university’s history. Not only is LSU still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the university has come under fire in recent months after current and former female students accused administrators of covering up sexual misconduct allegations over a period of years.
Edwards mentioned those issues in his statement and expressed confidence that Tate “is the right person to lead LSU.”
“It is no secret that LSU is coming face to face with Title IX issues, including allegations that have been absolutely gut wrenching to hear,” Edwards said. “All students should be safe on this and every university campus in our state, period. Dr. Tate will have to tackle this very important issue and I am confident that he is the right person to lead LSU.”
Tate has served at the University of South Carolina since July 2020. Prior to that, he was dean of the Graduate School & Vice Provost for Graduate Education at Washington University in St. Louis from 2002 to 2020. Tate also spent time at Texas Christian University and University of Wisconsin-Madison.
At South Carolina, Tate oversees the 13 schools and colleges on the University of South Carolina Columbia campus, UofSC School of Medicine Columbia, and the UofSC School of Medicine Greenville. He was also responsible for the overall leadership of academic affairs of the university, including curriculum development, program assessment, establishment of academic standards and university accreditation.
While at the University of South Carolina, Tate launched Carolina Online as the university’s comprehensive effort to deliver degree programs and professional credentials online.
He also established the Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship program, which offers postdoctoral fellowships with the specific aim of increasing faculty diversity and research productivity on campus, and worked with the Faculty Senate to develop a “Founding Documents” course for incoming freshmen.
Tate received his Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Maryland, Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Texas at Dallas, Master of Psychiatric Epidemiology from Washington University School of Medicine, and Bachelor of Science in economics from Northern Illinois University.
As LSU president, Tate will be responsible for overall leadership, vision, and direction for all of the university’s campuses across the state. That includes the LSU Agricultural and Mechanical College at Baton Rouge (the premier flagship university for the state); campus units at Alexandria, Eunice, and Shreveport; Health Science Centers in New Orleans and Shreveport; LSU Agricultural Center; and Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.
As the chief executive and academic officer of both the LSU system and the LSU flagship campus in Baton Rouge, Tate will be charged with providing strategic and collaborative leadership in developing and advancing goals and plans “to achieve LSU’s mission of fostering first-class learning, the discovery of innovations, and the development of Louisiana’s human capital by applying research and scholarship in advancing intellectual, personal, and professional growth.”
The LSU system has more than 35,000 undergraduate students and more than 12,000 graduate students, not including another 2,000 professional students in the Health Centers. The system employs 3,000 full-time-equivalent faculty members, including 1,340 tenured or tenure-track.
The LSU system has an endowment with a market value larger than $900M, about $350M in annual research expenditures, and more than 200 active licenses.