Moving toward A NEW ERA: University of Louisiana System's Incoming President Seeks to Get Grambling State Back on Track

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Moving Toward A NEW ERA: University of Louisiana System's incoming president seeks to get Grambling State back on track

The incoming president of the University of Louisiana System, Dr. Sally Clausen, says getting historically Black Grambling State University back on track is at the top of her priority list.

The university has long been plagued by a declining enrollment, instability created by a succession of five presidencies in almost 10 years and messy financial records.

Clausen acknowledges that Grambling's challenges are many and that primary among them may be the morale of the students, faculty and staff. However, she, along with Grambling's acting president Dr. Neari F. Warner, believe most of the university's current problems have answers and that the school's best days still lie ahead.

"I have faith in Grambling as an important and unique part of our overall system," adds Clausen who, since 1995, has been the president of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, one of the eight schools -- including Grambling -- that constitute the University of Louisiana System. "Dr. Warner and I have a very good working relationship, so I think that together we are going to push the school into a new era."

Warner, who previously served as Grambling's provost and vice president of academic affairs, was named acting president in January following the sudden departure of Dr. Steven Favors. Favors' quick exit in early January marked the end of Grambling's fifth presidency in the last nine years. That exit came after Louisiana legislative auditor Dan Kyle declared that because of a large number of inaccuracies and a lack of internal controls, the school's books could not be properly audited. It was the third time in as many years that Kyle said Grambling's records were too messy to audit (see Black Issues, Jan. 18). That decision, in turn, prompted the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to withdraw its previous 10-year reaffirmation of Grambling's accreditation.

"We have never had a problem with anyone being dishonest or doing anything unethical," says Warner. "But we have very much had technical problems combined with a degree of personnel problems that have just made the job of making Grambling work efficiently very difficult. …