The beginning of this week saw a flurry of activity on the Nicholls State University campus in Thibodaux.

The university’s president search committee hosted the semifinalists for tours and interviews.

The committee has diligently included the school’s faculty, staff and students, as well as the community at large, in the entire process. That has been a positive as Nicholls State searches for the person who will take over the position from outgoing President Bruce Murphy. Murphy announced in September that he was leaving at the end of the year.

The search committee had a half-dozen quality candidates in the pool of semifinalists, and the next president is sure to be someone fit to lead our university.

Now, the University of Louisiana System board must interview the finalists on Tuesday in Baton Rouge before voting that same day on Murphy’s successor.

One thing is certain: The new president will face plenty of challenges, beginning with the ongoing fiscal hardship imposed by a state budgeting system that is incapable of placing the proper priorities on public services.

While the recent financial woes plaguing the state budget have had widespread consequences, the effects have disproportionately affected higher education, one of the few places where state officials can make cuts.

At Nicholls – as well as at other state colleges and universities – the numerous rounds of cuts have led to decreased services for students and increased price tags for education. We have essentially made it increasingly difficult to keep our best and brightest young minds in Louisiana for college.

But there are also some glowing reasons why leading a university such as Nicholls State is a coveted job.

Nicholls State boasts numerous impressive programs that are training tomorrow’s nurses, teachers, business people, chefs and journalists.

It also plays a unique role in the local culture and economy, making it indispensable even to people who might never set foot on campus.

It has a strong and still-growing relationship with our community and technical colleges that allows all our local students to draw benefits from any number of schools.

And it has a hard-working and dedicated team of professionals who are doing their best even in turbulent times to deliver the best education they possibly can to Nicholls State’s thousands of students.

Murphy did a great job of leading the university through some of its most demanding times. While those demands have not lessened, the course he set will be a great asset to the next president.

Here’s hoping the ULS board makes a wise decision.

 

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.