The Three Finalists to Lead the Southern University System

Southern University and A&M College has announced a list of three finalists for chancellor of the flagship campus in Baton Rouge and president of the Southern University System. Ray Belton who currently serves in these roles announced that he will step down at the end of the calendar year. (See JBHE post.)

Here are brief profiles of the three finalists.

Laurence Alexander has been chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff since 2013. Earlier he had a 22-year career as a professor and administrator at the University of Florida. A native of New Orleans, Dr. Alexander earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Orleans, a master’s degree in journalism and communications from the University of Florida, a juris doctorate from Tulane University in New Orleans, and a Ph.D. in higher education from Florida State University.

Walter Kimbrough is president of Dillard University in New Orleans. Dr. Kimbrough became president of Dillard University in 2012 after serving as president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dr. Kimbrough is a graduate of the University of Georgia. He holds a master’s degree from Miami University and a doctorate in higher education from Georgia State University.

Dennis Shields is chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He has served in that role since 2010. Previously, he was the acting vice president of student affairs at City College of New York. Earlier he was a professor and dean of the Phoenix Law School. Chancellor Shields is a graduate of Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, where he majored in business administration. He earned a juris doctorate at the University of Iowa College of Law.

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  1. Why is God’s name would Laurence Alexander be on the short list for the Southern University System when his own university(e.g., UAPB) has an abysmal graduation rate of 27 percent. The same applies for “Smiling Sammy” and political correct Walter Kimbrough whose university has a slightly abysmal graduation rate of 38 percent. Even though Dennis Shields university(e.g., Univ. of Wisconsin, Platteville) have a sub par graduation rate of 52.4 percent is statistically stronger than Alexander and Kimbrough graduation rate.

    Moving forward, since Shields has literally no substantive experience with HBCUs, I would reluctantly select Kimbrough by default. Or, the hiring committee could reopen the position to a national search again in hopes of attracting highly qualified candidates.

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