F. King Alexander, who grew up in Gainesville, named LSU president

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 9:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 9:31 p.m.

BATON ROUGE, La. - F. King Alexander, a college leader in California who grew up in Gainesville, was hired Wednesday to be LSU's next system president and chancellor of the flagship campus, a newly merged job that he'll start in July.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously backed Alexander, president of California State University Long Beach, for the LSU job. Terms of his contract will be set at a future board meeting.

"We believe he stands ready to lead LSU boldly," said board member Blake Chatelain, who led the closed-door search that involved no public interviews.

The search process generated complaints, with the LSU Faculty Senate questioning Alexander's qualifications and registering a vote of no-confidence in the Board of Supervisors and its search.

The search committee refused to list any other people who were interviewed since the search began in November. Chatelain said a public search would have limited the pool of contenders who would have been willing to be considered for the LSU position.

Despite the criticism, the 49-year-old Alexander said he expected to have a good working relationship with faculty.

The Oxford-educated Alexander has led Cal State Long Beach since 2006, overseeing a campus with 36,000 students. He'll stay at that position through June.

Before that, he was president of Murray State University in Kentucky from 2001 to 2006, a job previously held by his father. Alexander also has held positions at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; University of Wisconsin, Madison; and University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

"I am pleased and humbled by your faith in me and your confidence in me, and I look forward to working with you closely to build these bonds, to build these bridges and to build LSU to its best capability possible," Alexander told the board.

At LSU, Alexander will be in charge of a multibillion-dollar system of four university campuses, a law school and medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Hank Danos said he expects Alexander's contract will be similar to that of LSU's previous system president, John Lombardi, who received a $550,000 salary and $51,000 in housing and car allowances.

Lombardi, a former president at the University of Florida, was fired as LSU System president in April 2012 after he clashed with Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration over higher education policy and criticism about his leadership style.

LSU Chancellor Mike Martin left the Baton Rouge campus to lead the Colorado State University System, after which the board voted to merge the two jobs as part of the restructuring.

"We expect in the same range as Dr. Lombardi," Danos said.

Alexander is son of University of Florida women's athletics legend Ruth Alexander, who is credited with being a pioneer in women's sports through the establishment decades ago of the "Lady Gator" athletic program at UF.

F. King Alexander was raised in Gainesville, playing basketball at Buchholz High School.

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