University of New Orleans lands new leader from Indiana-Purdue breakup 

By: - September 14, 2023 3:47 pm

Kathy Johnson speaks to University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson after being named the next president of the University of New Orleans (Piper Hutchinson/Louisiana Illuminator)

The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors named Kathy Johnson, a top administrator at Indiana University-Purdue University Indiana (IUPUI), the next president of the University of New Orleans. 

IUPUI, two universities that have acted as one for half a century, is in the midst of a historic breakup. Starting in fall 2024, programs affiliated with Purdue will become an official campus of Purdue, while the remainder will become Indiana University at Indianapolis, part of the University of Indiana system. 

The split has left dozens of tenured professors at the university in a worrisome position, having to either find tenured positions in other departments, lose tenure, retire or accept “university tenure,” reporting to the vice provost for faculty affairs, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported this week

Johnson, IUPUI’s executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer, said in an interview the situation at her current school is part of why she decided to come to New Orleans. 

“I can’t really do much to fix the situation that’s transpired,” Johnson told University of Louisiana System board members about the tenure issue. “But I keep trying to emphasize trying to help people continue to move in a positive direction.” 

The UL Board voted 12-1 to select Johnson over hometown candidate Walter Kimbrough, who served as president of Dillard University, a private historically Black Institution, for a decade. Kimbrough is noted as a particularly outspoken higher education leader, maintaining an active social media presence and being quoted frequently in national higher education publications. 

Johnson is the first woman to serve as president of the University of New Orleans and just the second woman to hold the role at a University of Louisiana System school. 

She replaces John Nicklow, who resigned in March to take the same job at the Florida Institute of Technology. 

Johnson’s start date has not yet been announced.


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Piper Hutchinson
Piper Hutchinson

Piper Hutchinson is a reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator. She has covered the Legislature and state government extensively for the LSU Manship News Service and The Reveille, where she was named editor in chief for summer 2022.