Grambling State University, an HBCU in Louisiana, has named a new president following the controversial ouster of Dr. Willie Larkin, former chief of staff to the president of Baltimore’s Morgan State University, after less than a year at the helm.
This time, the University of Louisiana System (ULS) Board of Supervisors went with a native son, former Louisiana state senator and state representative Richard J. Gallot Jr. The Board also interviewed former Tuskegee University President Dr. Gilbert Rochon.
“My lifelong roots in the Grambling community, combined with my record of serving this university and community as an attorney, City Councilman, State Representative, and State Senator provide the type of leadership needed at this critical time,” Gallot said in a statement. He added, “Higher education in Louisiana faces challenges unlike any time in our past. The relationships I’ve built over the past 15 years with the Governor, legislature, congressional leaders and corporate sector will serve Grambling State University well.”
Gallot’s returning to Grambling is like coming full circle. He graduated from the university in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in art and history. Additionally, he is the son former Grambling mayor Richard Gallot Sr., and Mildred Gauthier Gallot, former head of GSU’s History Department.
Current Grambling Mayor Edward Jones, who grew up on the same block with the newly named university president, praised his parents for raising a good son by example at a recent church service held to celebrate Gallot’s new assignment.
“The Gallots are community grounded and Rick was groomed as a child for this position,” the mayor said as cited by the GSU News Bureau. “They may not have known it, but this was the role made for him. They have been an infinite part of Grambling, the university and the community.”
Gallot is Grambling’s 10th president in 25 years, a retention rate that was a point of deep concern to the ULS Board of Supervisors and others.
Larkin, the ninth president, resigned June 23 after a vote of no confidence by the Faculty Senate in February. At the time, the faculty said Larkin was not doing enough to address the barrage of troubles facing the school, including declining enrollment, decimated programs and a budgetary crisis, and had not sufficiently engaged them in finding solutions.
At least one Larkin supporter said detractors may have been too hard and too hasty in their judgment of the previous administrator.
“I am quite disappointed that he was not given a fair chance nor enough time,” GSU alumnus Fredrick Pinkney, a member of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ transition team for Higher Education, said in a statement. “The constant change is disheartening.