by Anitra D. Brown The New Orleans Tribune
Speaking to a crowd of New Orleans business, civic, social, educational, and political leaders, LSU’s incoming president Dr. William Tate IV, said “scholarship” will be at the foundation of his goals as he assumes his role as leader of the largest institution of higher education in the state.
At its May meeting, LSU’s Board of Supervisors, in a 15-0 vote, named Tate as the next president of Louisiana State University, making him the first Black person to hold the position at LSU and in the Southeast Conference.
Dr. Tate talked about focusing on scholarship at an early June meet-and-greet at the home of local businessman Jimmie Woods and Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods. The gathering was hosted by former congressman, Cedric Richmond, who now serves as a senior advisor to President Joe Biden, along with Jimmie Woods and Attorney James Williams, both of whom represent the state’s second congressional district on LSU’s Board of Supervisors. Dr. Tate attended the event with his wife Kim Cash Tate, a successful Christian author, speaker, and singer.
“There is the scholarship part of becoming president, and there are other things. People ask me what do you want to do at LSU? What’s your aim? What’s your goal?” Tate said, speaking to the cross-section of local leaders. “Scholarship first. I love football. I love basketball. I love sports. I am a former coach and an athlete. I want us to win a national championship. But I got my own version of a national championship. It was called a 15-0 vote from the (Board of Supervisors). And I want to thank them for doing that, and I am going to promise you that while I am president, scholarship will be first.”
Before his appointment to LSU, Tate served as the provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at the University of South Carolina, where he also held the USC Education Foundation Distinguished Professorship with appointments in Sociology and Family and Preventive Medicine. He previously served as dean and vice provost for graduate education at Washington University in St. Louis and on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Tate received his doctoral degree in mathematics education from the University of Maryland, a master of arts in teaching from the University of Texas at Dallas, a masters of psychiatric epidemiology from Washington University School of Medicine, and a bachelor of science in economics from Northern Illinois University.
In a printed statement about the LSU Board’s appointment of Tate in May, Board Chair Robert Dampf said, “This is a very pivotal time at our university, from economic, environmental, social challenges, but we are doing great things at this place. From our academic achievements, our enrollment, our diversity, I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished. We set about to find a great leader, and we found one.”
Tate will assume the presidency at LSU in July.
While speaking to those at the New Orleans gathering, Tate expounded on what he meant by his focus on “scholarship, saying “What I mean, very succinctly, is the teaching and learning environment is very important. Research is very important. We want that to be paramount at LSU throughout our system. It is extremely important for me that we invest in scholarships for students who are worthy. It’s important to me that we have scholar-athletes. All of that is important to me. So that word “scholarship” is going to drive everything I try to do. There is no other mission other than scholarship.”
Dr. Tate also told the cross-section of leaders at the gathering that he would need their help to reach his goals.
“I need you all to be partners with us at LSU Each and everyone of you—I am going to have to count on in some form or fashion at some point in time if we are going to be successful,” he said. “We need to develop our partnerships.”
As LSU’s president, Tate will provide overall leadership and direction for all of the LSU campuses across Louisiana, including the flagship university in Baton Rouge, campuses in Alexandria, Eunice, and Shreveport; Health Science Centers in New Orleans and Shreveport; LSU Agricultural Center; and Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. The LSU system has more than 35,000 undergraduate students and more than 12,000 graduate students. There are 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. The System also makes about $350M in annual research expenditures. LSU is the only institution of higher education in Louisiana to hold a R1 (highest level) classification in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning
Minorities make up 27 percent of LSU’s student population, with Black students only comprising 12 percent of the University’s student population.