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University may lose regional chancellor

USF St. Petersburg's Karen White could soon lead a Louisiana college.

By DONNA WINCHESTER, Times Staff Writer
Published November 8, 2007

Karen White was called "an ace of a candidate" by the University of Louisiana system president.

Karen White, regional chancellor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, has emerged as a top candidate for the presidency of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, school officials confirmed Wednesday.

White, 56, was among 38 candidates who applied to lead the 16,000-student university. She is one of five finalists who will be interviewed for the job next week.

"When the search firm representing the system contacted me, I was not seeking an outside position," White said in a written statement. "I allowed a nomination to move forward because of my long-term associations with the state and its universities."

University of Louisiana system president Sally Clausen said she has been courting White since the early phase of the search in spring. She said she became interested in White when a fac ulty member at Southeastern Louisiana University, where both Clausen and White have worked, recommended her.

"I think I have an ace of a candidate here," Clausen said. "A lot will depend on if she likes the environment and if we can convince her to relocate."

A member of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, UL Lafayette offers 80 undergraduate degree programs and 29 master's degree programs. The Carnegie Foundation has designated the school as a research university with high research activity, putting it among the ranks of Clemson, Auburn and Baylor universities.

White came to USF St. Petersburg in 2003 after serving as dean of the college of fine arts at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. It was a crucial time for the waterfront campus as it gained autonomy from the main campus in Tampa.

In addition to earning separate accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, USF St. Petersburg grew its student body from 4,000 to more than 5,000 and built its first residence hall during White's tenure.

State Rep. Bill Heller, who preceded White as dean at USF St. Petersburg, said he had heard she was being courted.

"She's certainly been a steady force," Heller said. "I think the campus has benefited from her being there. If she left I would wish her the best. If she stays, I would continue to give her my full support."

[Last modified November 8, 2007, 00:25:47]

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