UL System Board Names Next President of Grambling State University
GRAMBLING–The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System today named Willie D. Larkin as the ninth president of Grambling State University.
Larkin, chief of staff to the president of Morgan State University, is expected to assume the presidency on July 1.
Larkin thanked the board and the Grambling community. “I’ve been working for this my entire life. I thank my mom and dad. Although they’re not living anymore, they’d be extremely proud,” he said.
Larkin was among five candidates who interviewed publicly on the Grambling campus this week. A search committee, appointed by the UL System Board, consisted of board members, students, alumni, faculty and community representatives. After interviewing semifinalists, the Board selected two candidates for final interviews today in front of a diverse university audience.
In his interview, Larkin stressed the leadership and collaboration skills he’s honed in the decade he served leaders of Morgan State and the University of Wisconsin Colleges, as well as his experiences with the Faculty Senate and University Senate at Auburn University.
Larkin said his first task will be to put together an executive team and to begin developing an agenda “to turn this university around” and return it to greatness “in every respect.”
He said, “I know that we’re a great athletic school and that people here love academics, but academics are important as well. The key is to balance those things out.”
Despite a modest background, Larkin explained, his opportunities have inspired him to seek similar opportunities for others.
“Coming from an agricultural rural background, the oldest of eight children, born to uneducated parents and getting the opportunity to leave that sharecropper farm and go to college and get a college education, most people would say, ‘You’re really not supposed to be where you are. You’re not supposed to have accomplished what you’ve accomplished,’” Larkin said.