In A Flash

Search for a new president-chancellor of the Southern University system starts Nov. 10

By: - October 22, 2021 6:44 pm

Southern University President-Chancellor Ray Belton takes a picture with the Board of Supervisors after announcing his retirement. (JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)

Southern University’s search committee for a new president-chancellor will begin “actively recruiting the very best people that we can find” next month, a representative of the firm that works with universities on searches for executive positions, told the Southern University system Board of Supervisors Friday.

The committee will then virtually interview semifinalists for the position in early January and pick at least three finalists. Then, the board “will determine how (they) will go forward with interviewing the finalists,” said Rod McDavis, managing principal at AGB Search.


“This is a very compact search,” McDavis said. “We think that we can be very successful in recruiting. We’ve done a lot of research already.”


Southern President-Chancellor Ray Belton announced in July that he will retire in the fall of 2022.

Belton has served in the role for seven years, and before that served as chancellor for Southern University Shreveport for 14 years. He also has worked in faculty and administration at Southern for over 34 years.

The members of the committee are:

  • Tim Barfield, president of CSRS Inc. 
  • Alfred Harrell, CEO of the Southern University System Foundation  
  • Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans 
  • Sandra Brown, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health at Southern University and A&M College 
  • Nzhada Harris, president of the Student Bar Association at Southern University Law Center 
  • Lee Jackson, chairman and CEO of Jackson Offshore Operations LLC 
  • Irving Matthews, president of The Matthews Automotive Group 
  • Cynthia Ramirez, professor and president of the faculty senate at Southern University at New Orleans 
  • LaQuitta Thomas, national president of the Southern University Alumni Federation 
  • Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health  
  • Tiffany Varner, director of nursing at Southern University at Shreveport

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and 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.