Jul 8, 2010 12:43 PM by Melissa Canone
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana could have an interim
commissioner of higher education next week and the position should
be permanently filled in October, according to a tentative timeline
The Louisiana Board of Regents also is moving forward with plans
to hire a national headhunter firm to help lead the search.
The commissioner vacancy comes in the wake of Sally Clausen's
June resignation, caused by controversy over her one-day retirement
that netted her extra pay for accrued sick leave and vacation time.
While the Board of Regents is looking out of state for retired
or semiretired higher-education leaders for the interim job, the
Regents moved ahead with setting the groundwork for the larger
Clausen and her predecessor, Joseph Savoie, now the University
of Louisiana at Lafayette president, were both hired as
commissioner without national searches. So the process is
relatively new for the Board of Regents.
The tentative timeline approved Wednesday has the Regents
selecting finalists on Sept. 22 and hiring a new commissioner as
early as Oct. 7 or as late as Oct. 28, depending on negotiations.
The desired characteristics include a preferred but not required
"I'm not sure I want an ambitious timeline," said Regent Mary
Ellen Roy of New Orleans. "I don't want to be lackadaisical,
obviously, but I want to do it right."
Regent Bubba Rasberry of Shreveport described the timeline as
And Regent Roland Toups of Baton Rouge emphasized the importance
is selecting the right interim commissioner, noting that colleges
are dealing with tuition-increasing plans and academic-program
eliminations that must be approved by the Board of Regents.
Higher education in the state has been axed by about $270
million during the past 19 months because of declining state
Those budget cuts play into the ability to hire a private search
firm as well, especially because the Board of Regents is
implementing $17.6 million in its own budget cuts.
"The cost is very high," warned Board of Regents legal counsel
Connie Koury. Most of the search firm quotes came at about $100,000
In addition, the Board of Regents already has contracted with an
internal consultant - Dawn Wilson Muscarello to assist with the
search for up to $29,000.