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USC Provost Bill Tate finalist to become president at LSU

USC Provost Bill Tate

Bill Tate File/Provided 

COLUMBIA — The University of South Carolina's No. 2 administrator is a finalist to become president at Louisiana State University. 

USC Provost Bill Tate arrived in Columbia in July after the leading the graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis. He also was a finalist in 2019 to become president at USC and chancellor at the University of Tennessee.

Tate was among eight semifinalists interviewed on April 26 and 27, and was picked as one of the three finalists who will come to Baton Rouge, La., for more interviews. Tate, USC's first Black provost, is the only Black finalist at LSU. He sent in his application at the last minute, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate newspaper reported.  

Tate, an epidemiologist, is seen as possible successor to USC President Bob Caslen. USC has never had a Black president. Tate won positive reviews from the university community as a finalist along with Caslen, who drew some criticism for not having a doctorate degree and not answering some questions well in a forum. 

Caslen hired Tate as the school's chief academic officer and together they guided USC through the COVID-19 pandemic that included closing and reopening a campus with 35,000 students.

LSU is going through the aftershocks from mishandling sexual misconduct allegations, including some against a football coach, that cost the last president his new job at Oregon State University.   

Tate was asked about how he would handle misconduct claims if he came to LSU and brought up a recent spate of allegations at USC.

"We obviously have individuals on our campus who are problematic, and harassing individuals, predators in my opinion," he told the presidential search committee. "If (a complaint) comes across my desk in real time and I have reasonable evidence, I'm moving the individuals out quickly. You can not keep predators on campus."

Asked about the role of athletics at LSU, Tate said one of USC's Southeastern Conference competitors was a place that could combine top sports and academics. 

"There are a few universities in this country, where it's possible to win the Heisman Trophy and a Nobel Prize," he told the committee. "If I asked you to name those universities. I bet you could, Michigan, UCLA. 

"My goal would be to create a context in which student athletes can win national championships, while working and engaging in an academic environment where the very, very best people could actually can win Nobel Prizes."

Follow Andy Shain on Facebook (andyshain12) and Twitter (@andyshain)

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