Two University of Louisiana System leaders have changed the state’s dynamic in the past two weeks as they pursue new opportunities within the state’s framework, which has drawn some pushback. Additionally, one university president is regrettably leaving his post due to family health issues, leaving behind a complicated track record.
Moves across the University of Louisiana System
Jim Henderson will be stepping down from his role as system president to claim the presidency at Louisiana Tech University. A university system president seeking a job at a subordinate institution is unorthodox. State and board bylaws require the system president to be heavily involved in the selection process. As a result, no other candidates were considered for the position, nor was a vacancy notice posted. While Tech senate president Louis Reis was “disappointed” since it did not open the door for input through a search committee, Henderson defended the irregular process, the Louisiana Illuminator reports.
“If you have a search with a system president in the search, you’re gonna have a chilling effect on the applicant pool because they’ll think that it’s a done deal,” he said. “And then if the system president is selected as part of that search world, the search was just a faux search; it was a facade.”
Henderson has served as system president for six years, and he begins his tenure at Tech in January.
Taking Henderson’s place as University of Louisiana System president is Richard Gallot, current president at Grambling State University. The board selected Gallot unanimously, circumventing any formal president search process as well. Gallot is a former Democratic state senator who has served at the helm of GSU for seven years.
Kathleen Murray – Hamline University (Minn.)
Hamline University’s Board of Trustees has selected Kathleen Murray as their president. In January, she will succeed Fayneese Miller, who plans to retire from the university after an eight-year run. Murray will be the third consecutive female president at Hamline, according to the school.
Not so long ago, Murray had retired from the presidency at Whitman College (Wash.) in 2022 after leading it through the pandemic, helping strategize an institutional budget and map out the first phase of a comprehensive campaign that raised more than $100 million. She has extensive experience as provost, serving seven years at Macalester College (Minn.) and three at Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.)
Robin Capehart – Bluefield State University (W.Va.)
Robin Capehart is retiring from Bluefield State University after offering his resignation letter during a Board of Governors meeting. He initially assumed the role of Bluefield State’s interim president in January 2019, and within eight months he was officially appointed president of the institution. Until he retires on Dec. 31, he voiced his responsibility in helping the board find a successor, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports.
During his time at Bluefield State, he oversaw the university’s introduction of graduate programs and its inclusion in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
A state native, Capehart has undertaken leadership positions throughout West Virginia, both in higher education and government. He was pressured to step down as president of West Liberty University after the West Virginia Ethics Commission found he used his position and university resources to promote his private film company’s projects, The Intelligencer reports. He became the lead counsel to the state senate’s finance committee two years later.
Miles Davis – Linfield University (Ore.)
Miles Davis, president of Linfield University, notified the Board of Trustees that he is stepping down due to family health concerns, OPB reports. With his family living in Virginia, traveling coast-to-coast has become unfeasible.
While Davis was lauded for helping prop up student support initiatives in diversity, equity and inclusion, his career at Linfield will be muddled by a $1 million legal settlement he resolved with a professor who accused leadership staff, including Davis, of antisemitism and sexual harassment.
Davis will remain in his position through the year and the beginning of 2024.
J. Michael Pressimone – Notre Dame College (Ohio)
Notre Dame College President J. Michael Pressimone has announced he’s resigning immediately to “pursue new opportunities,” WKYC reports. The abruptness of the announcement has shaken the college’s community, who are anxious about its health and future.
“We want to assure you that our primary focus remains on our mission, which we have upheld for the past 100 years, and on serving our students in the best way possible,” said the school in a statement responding to the uneasiness.
Pressimone had served at Notre Dame College for three years.