BATON ROUGE, La. — The University of Louisiana System has a new president, chosen from within its own campus ranks.

James Henderson, president of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, was tapped Thursday by the UL System Board of Supervisors to take over management of the entire system. The board members unanimously approved his appointment.

“Jim’s career has uniquely prepared him for this role,” Interim System President Dan Reneau said in a statement. “Higher education in Louisiana is facing some of its most challenging times, and I think the board made an excellent selection to best position the system to combat the challenges ahead.”

Before his current job at Northwestern, Henderson was chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College. He’s been president of Northwestern since January 2015.

Henderson was the only candidate forwarded to the full board for an interview by its search committee. He’ll fill the job that Sandra Woodley left in December, leading the largest higher education system in Louisiana, with about 90,000 students across nine universities.

His tenure as system president will begin Jan. 1. His salary wasn’t immediately set, with the terms of employment still to be negotiated.

In a statement, Henderson talked of the years of budget cuts for campuses.

“A sea change in policies, direction and strategies will be required to reinstate our institutions to the position of prominence which they deserve,” he said. “The system office will be at the forefront of those efforts in the years ahead.”