BATON ROUGE – Students at LSU are voicing their excitement about a new leader on campus after recently overcoming countless obstacles campus-wide.
The university continues to address those issues from title nine reformation to reducing racism on campus, but this is just the beginning of quite a lot of work left for officials to tackle.
Dr. William Tate was recently hired to head the LSU system after an extensive interview process. The LSU Presidential Search Committee narrowed down the list of candidates vying for the system president and chancellor position from its initial 23 applicants in April.
The search for the right fit came in the middle of a sexual misconduct scandal, which was seen as dampening interest in the job.
The weeks-long interview process led the school to Dr. Tate, making him the first Black president of the university since the school opened its doors in the 1800s.
This decision also makes LSU the first school in the SEC to hire a person of color to take on this major role.
A monumental day for the school and students alike, Secretary of LSU’s Black Student Union, Xavier Kent, says this is a hire that was long overdue.
Due to the climate of the university’s current situation with several scandals, Kent says this major move for the school makes him wonder about the administration’s intentions for choosing Tate, despite his impressive resume.
“When the announcement was first made, many students of course were excited, but knowing the result of some of the issues we’ve had to go through even in the COVID year and these last few months, a lot of students, I would say, did see it as performative on the hands of administration to appoint Dr. Tate,” Kent said. “However, looking at Dr. Tate’s resume and track record, he is most certainly qualified.”
Kent says he respects Dr. Tate for taking on this role during difficult times with the school’s damaged reputation. Despite being wary of the administration’s goal when choosing Tate for the job, Kent says this is an exciting and historical day to be proud of, calling it a new era.
“Although LSU still has many, many existing issues that still exist on campus today, I do believe that not only does Dr. Tate, but the LSU board of supervisors believe we’re in such a new, different era now,” Kent said. “We’re all looking forward to the new era, a new and exciting time at LSU. So it’s really like the LSU of the past no longer exists. We’re going on, we’re moving forward to a different future.”
In addition to appreciating Tate for stepping up at a time when the president position might not have been as desirable, Kent says the new hire seems to be focused on the success and safety of the people rather than just the sports.
To flourish as the leader of the LSU system, Kent says Dr. Tate should focus on building relationships with student leaders on campus to better help support everyone, not just Greek life or athletes.
“He is one that he understands that LSU isn’t just sports. LSU isn’t just football. It’s all of us,” Kent said.
Kent is confident Tate is willing to start from the ground up when picking up the pieces to rebuild the trust and establish open communication with students, staff, and faculty.
It’s even the faculty coming in who clean the union, who come in and clean the trashcans in the classrooms. It’s those students who are winning scholarships. It’s not even those students who may be doing good in terms of success. It’s those students who are struggling. It’s those students who are thinking about, ‘what meal do I have to eat every single night?’ It’s those students whose cars break down and you know, they maybe can’t afford to buy a parking ticket every year. So these individuals and specific students are going to be on Dr. Tate’s mind. It’s not just going to be just sports. It’s going to be a collaborative effort, he’s going to be thinking about all of us.”
After being an honest leader who works hard to better the entirety of the university, specifically the people who make it what it is, Kent says Tate should then focus on his support system.
“I do think that the team he surrounds himself with the most is going to be one of the most important things, but like I said I have a lot of trust in him,” Kent said.
To support the positive progression and new relationships made campus-wide, Kent says students want to see his team following suit to make the most of Tate’s hard work.
Dr. William Tate addressed the media Tuesday morning to kickstart his first day on the job, making it official with his very own Tiger Card.
When WBRZ asked Dr. Tate how he planned to build a relationship with students and rebuild their trust, he said he’s hopeful to meet with student leaders as much as he possibly can.
Tate says he hopes to provide access to leaders of groups and organizations on campus to communicate with him directly on behalf of all of the students involved as time is limited, but hopes they will feel comfortable coming to him.
And when it comes to returning to campus in the fall, Dr. Tate encourages students to come fully vaccinated and ready to realize their dreams.
“Come and really realize your dreams here at LSU because this is a place where you can realize your dreams. The resources are here, the faculty is wonderful, it’s a beautiful campus. All you have to do is get here and just actualize your dreams.”
With a smile, Dr. Tate added a bit more advice. He encourages students to read a book over the summer as they can expect to read several when they get back in the classroom in the fall.