Northwestern State University’s gets a new president today

Marcus Jones and Kim LeDuff are the two finalists for the job

By: - November 8, 2021 10:20 am

Northwestern University entrance. (Courtesy of

The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors will interview and select the next president of Northwestern State University Monday (Nov. 8). The new president is expected to start in January. 

The board will decide between the two finalists: Marcus Jones and Kim LeDuff.

Whoever is chosen will be the first Black president in the history of the university. Both candidates are African American.

LeDuff, if selected, would also be Northwestern State’s first woman president. 

Here’s a little bit more information about the candidates: 

Marcus Jones

Marcus Jones currently serves as interim president for Northwestern

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.

Jones also serves 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, administration, policies, procedures,” said Jim Henderson, UL system president and chair of the 2021 Northwestern Presidential Search Committee. 

Jones also “oversaw the areas of business, finance, internal and external audits, equal employment opportunity and IT” for the system, according to Henderson.

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

“I know Northwestern, Northwestern is family to me,” Jones said to the presidential search committee during an interview Tuesday.

Jones said the most important thing he’s done throughout his career is “build relationships here on [Northwestern’s] campus.”

“I am in a position where I can hit the ground running. There is no learning curve for me,” he said. “Because I know all the players on the campus, and I know all the players in the city.”

When Jones took over international recruitment and globalization for Northwestern, he said the university only had two or three exchange programs abroad. “Right now, we have about 27 exchange agreements in place that our students have the opportunity to take advantage of,” he said.

As president, Jones said he would expand the university’s recruitment model to focus on nontraditional or post-high school students.

“Trying to get some additional funding for athletics is an area that I would like to focus a little bit more attention on” as well, he said.

Kim LeDuff

Kim LeDuff, currently serves as vice president for the division of academic engagement and student affairs as well as the chief diversity officer at the University of West Florida – Pensacola.

While she served in that position, the University of West Florida – Pensacola saw “the most significant increase in academic progress in the Florida State University system over a five year period,” Henderson said.

LeDuff earned a bachelor’s degree from Xavier University in New Orleans, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland-College Park and a doctorate in mass communication from Indiana University.

LeDuff has taught communications and journalism at the University of West Florida – Pensacola since 2005 and worked in the university’s administration since 2013. She also served as an interim director, associate director and assistant director at University of Southern Mississippi – Hattiesburg’s School of Mass Communication and Journalism.

“I feel like I’m the candidate who unfortunately didn’t go to school here, but I’m a Louisiana girl,” LeDuff said to the search committee in an interview Tuesday.

“I’d love to take the lessons that I’ve learned and the things that I’ve done, and bring them back to my home state,” she said.

LeDuff said that she wants to build partnerships within the city of Natchitoches — where Northwestern is located — to give students more opportunities to apply themselves.

For example,  the University of West Florida – Pensacola’s hospitality and tourism program worked with “Visit Pensacola” to promote that area and drive up tourism, she said. Art students also exhibit their work at the local museum of art in Pensacola.

“We need to look at what our city is known for, what its needs are surrounding us, and I think that will kind of give us some direction as to where we need to go” with our partnerships, she said.

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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.