BATON ROUGE, La. (BPROUD) – Tuesday kicked off the first of the two days of interviews to narrow down Southern University’s next President-Chancellor.

The search committee interviewed the following three of the five candidates in virtual interviews streamed live:

  • Dr. Laurence Alexander- UAPB Chancellor
  • Dr. Walter Kimbrough- Dillard University President
  • Dr. Kent Smith- Langston University President

The first to be interviewed was Langston University President Dr. Kent Smith. He said he has a close connection with Southern University.

“Southern University has been a part of my world literally my entire life,” said Smith.

Smith shared he had a long line of family members who attended Southern University, including his parents who studied education.

“When I say that university and working in the field of education is in my blood, you can understand what I mean,” Smith said.

Dillard University President Dr. Walter Kimbrough was next to face the board. He indicated that he believes he might be the underdog because he comes from a smaller university.

“As the outlier candidate, there are some opportunities here for me,” Kimbrough said.

But he brings up positive statistics after being a college president for a third of his life.

“Every place that I have been, high school GPA, everything goes up, every ACT score, retention rate, graduation rate, alumni giving rate, endowment, and audit findings go down,” said Kimbrough.

The final candidate for the day was University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Chancellor Dr. Laurence Alexander. He said Southern has room to grow, and he can help it get there while highlighting his years of accomplishments.

“I bring to this position a unique combination of faculty and academic leadership and experience as an award-winning distinguished professor and a first amendment scholar,” said Alexander.

All three of the candidates shared compelling arguments on why they should get the role.

“I am confident that my leadership experience and record of accomplishments have prepared me for this opportunity,” said Smith.

“You’ve got great people that’s a part of this pool that can do a great job,” said Kimbrough.

“The future is shining bright for Southern University and the Southern University System,” said Alexander. “I, therefore, seek this phenomenal leadership opportunity.”

On Wednesday the last two candidates will be interviewed:

  • Dr. James Ammons – SUNO Chancellor
  • Dr. Dennis Shields – University of Wisconsin – Platteville Chancellor

The finalists will be presented to the Southern University System Board, who will have the final vote on who the new President-Chancellor will be.