Marcus Jones named Northwestern State University’s first Black president

Jones will be the 20th president in the university’s history

By: - November 8, 2021 2:36 pm
Marcus Jones smiling in front of a Northwestern logo

Marcus Jones was elected the 20th Northwest State University president. (JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)

Marcus Jones, the university’s current interim president, will serve as the first Black president in Northwestern State University’s 137 year history.

“I’m full of emotion because Northwestern has given so much to me,” Jones said to the Illuminator following his selection.

The University of Louisiana system Board of Supervisors voted Monday to install Jones as Northwestern’s 20th president “effective Nov. 15.” The board interviewed Jones and the other finalist Kim LeDuff and afterwards unanimously voted to appoint Jones.

 The previous president, Chris Maggio, retired this summer after he served as president for four years. 

Jones earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern, master’s degree in international business and trade from Grambling State University and law degree from the Southern University Law Center.

He also worked in Northwestern’s administration for 13 years and as a professor at the university from 1999 to 2017.

Jones said he never previously thought about being the university’s first Black president because “I’ve never, during the history that I’ve had at Northwestern, been treated as anything other than just a regular human being.”

“But I know (being the first Black president) has a greater impact on other people, especially individuals who were not allowed to enter Northwestern who still live in Natchitoches,” he said. “So I think for them this is a special moment.”

As president, Jones said he will look to expand Northwestern’s international student enrollment and put more resources into the university’s athletics program.

“Right now we have about 150 international students. And what I would like to do is double that number over the next five years, with the majority of those being degree-seeking students,” he said.

The university is also “going to have to be creative in dealing with” declining enrollment and state funding, Jones said.

Jones also served as the executive vice president and chief operating officer for the University of Louisiana system. 

As the chief operating officer of the UL system, Jones “oversaw the management of budgets and administration. He also worked for the University of Louisiana system president Jim Henderson, who was president of Northwestern from 2015 to 2016 before taking his current job.

“Marcus Jones is the epitome of authentic, empathetic leadership,” Henderson, a Northwestern alumnus, said after Jones was selected. “One of the greatest days in Northwestern’s 137 year history is when (Jones) became president.”

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is a former Louisiana Illuminator reporter. Prior to working with the Illuminator, Canicosa worked for Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon. Canicosa earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.