BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — The chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans is getting a promotion to lead the entire Louisiana community college system, after a split vote of support Wednesday from the system's governing board.
The Board of Supervisors for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System voted 9-3 to nominate Monty Sullivan, selecting him from four finalists. Two other board members abstained from the vote.
No salary was immediately set, still to be worked out in contract negotiations.
Sullivan, who didn't attend the board meeting, was expected to start his new job on Feb. 27. He said he would continue the system's emphasis on aligning training programs to workforce needs.
"Our No. 1 priority is workforce alignment, focusing on our relationships on industry," he said in a conference call with reporters. "We need to double down on that."
Sullivan has been chancellor at Delgado since April 2012, overseeing a campus of 19,000 students. Before that, he was executive vice president for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. He also worked as vice chancellor for academic services and research at the Virginia Community College System.
"I felt like at this time Dr. Sullivan would be the best person to move this system forward. He had a multitude of experience," said Michael Murphy, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.
In his new role, Sullivan will oversee more than 101,000 students across 13 community and technical colleges around the state that offer everything from industry-based certificates to two-year degrees.
He'll start the job shortly before the next legislative session begins March 10. He inherits a budget picture that is starting to brighten after six straight years of budget cuts that stripped $700 million in state financing from all four of Louisiana's higher education systems.
The LCTCS Board of Supervisors met in executive session for nearly three hours before the vote. After the split vote, the full board unanimously agreed to a statement of support for Sullivan.
Board member Stephen Toups voted against Sullivan's nomination. Approached after the decision, Toups wouldn't say who he preferred, but said his opposition shouldn't be considered a disparagement of Sullivan's qualifications.
"We had a fantastic slate of four candidates that the search committee brought to us, proud to have any one of them. It was just a different opinion of leadership styles," Toups said.
Sullivan, a native of Louisiana, will be the fourth president in the history of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. He said he didn't have any concerns that the board's split vote would make his leadership transition difficult.
"Their decision was not an easy one," he said. He added, "The backgrounds of the other candidates were very, very strong."
Sullivan will succeed Joe May, who is leaving to become chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District after seven years as system president in Louisiana. May said he was moving to be closer to his family.