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Cavanaugh Officially Announces August 2007 Retirement

Released: 03/13/2007

Dr. Robert Cavanaugh, chancellor of Louisiana State University Alexandria, officially announced his retirement effective August 17, 2007.

Cavanaugh, who is currently the longest serving chancellor in the LSU System, has served the university in this position since 1994.

Cavanaugh’s announcement comes a couple of years after even he planned.

“There always seem to be more LSUA projects that I wanted to complete,” Cavanaugh said. “Many of these projects, including the first student apartments, a new multi-purpose academic building and new baccalaureate degrees, are now either a reality or well on the way to completion.”

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as well as budget cuts to higher education also delayed Cavanaugh’s decision. With higher education likely receiving much needed additional state funding in the new fiscal year, Cavanaugh, 63, decided after much thought and deliberation it was a good time to step down as chancellor.

Dr. William Jenkins, LSU System president, commended Cavanaugh for his dedication to the significant growth of LSUA and the personal attention he paid to those at the university.

“Chancellor Cavanaugh has been a superb administrator for LSU at Alexandria,” Jenkins said. “He was truly dedicated to the advancement of the university and paid particular attention to the academic needs and wellbeing of LSUA students. In addition, his extraordinary support for fellow administrators as well as faculty and staff will serve as the hallmark of his tenure—a record of service marked by excellence in which LSUA emerged as a significant factor in higher education for Central Louisiana.”

LSU Board of Supervisors member Charles S. Weems, III, echoed Jenkins’ comments about Cavanaugh’s tenure.

“In short, Dr. Cavanaugh''s service as chancellor of Louisiana State University at Alexandria has been marked with distinction,” Weems said. “I join with both the higher education community and the entirety of Central Louisiana in thanking him for his service, applauding his many successes, and wishing him well for the future. He will be sorely missed.”

Cavanaugh followed in the footsteps of his father, Dr. C.J. “Prof” Cavanaugh, by earning his Ph.D. and remaining in higher education throughout his career. Cavanaugh earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. in health and physical education from LSU in 1967, 1968 and 1971 respectively. From 1967-1968, he held a graduate fellowship in special education at LSU.

In his 38 years at LSUA, Cavanaugh moved up within the university from a one-year temporary instructor in 1969 to full-time faculty member then to interim division head. After serving as coordinator of planning and development, Cavanaugh was vice chancellor of academic affairs for five years until he was appointed chancellor in 1994.

During his 13 years as chancellor, Cavanaugh led LSUA to unprecedented academic and physical growth. In 1994, when LSUA was still a two-year commuter college, nearly 2,500 students were enrolled in four associate degree programs. After the Louisiana Legislature passed legislation in 2001 allowing LSUA to offer baccalaureate degrees, enrollment grew to more than 3,000 students. Today, LSUA offers six baccalaureate degrees and seven associate degrees.

Weems recognized Cavanaugh’s role in advancing the university.

“Robert Cavanaugh''s chancellorship at LSUA will be recognized as coinciding with the institution''s greatest period of development and growth,” Weems said. “His quiet leadership and perseverance were critical in LSUA''s obtaining four-year status in 2001, after a quarter century of frustration and lack of educational opportunity for Central Louisiana. His tenure has fostered and seen the emergence of the LSUA Foundation, acquisition of downtown facilities at the Alexandria Museum of Art, construction of the first residential housing at LSUA and the institution of athletics on the campus.”

Always quick to recognize the hard work of others, Cavanaugh explained how so much was accomplished at LSUA during his tenure.

“All of the good things that LSUA has accomplished have been the result of good people working together to provide additional opportunities for the community we serve,” Cavanaugh said.

At the top of this list of people working together is Jenkins.

“The highlight of these experiences has been the opportunity to work with President Jenkins,” Cavanaugh explained. “His leadership ability and his deep sense of honesty and integrity is an inspiration to all of us who are part of the LSU System.”

Cavanaugh, who admittedly has the LSU System “in his blood,” is grateful to the system for the opportunity it has provided.

“I thank the LSU System for allowing me this opportunity to have the best job I could have ever had,” Cavanaugh explained.

After his retirement, Cavanaugh plans to spend more time with his growing family. He also plans to travel with his wife, Georgia, a retired teacher. They also plan to develop their property in Arkansas and spend more time with their three children: Bart, Amy and JaneAnn, and their three grandchildren: Andrew, Annabelle and Katelyn plus one more on the way.

Cavanaugh said he will continue to work until his last day on August 17, which comes two days after LSUA’s first student apartment complex is set to open.

Cavanaugh’s August retirement will allow the LSU System and LSUA time to select a new chancellor, according to Cavanaugh.

For more information, contact Nancy Borden at 318-427-4407 or Betty Burns at 473-6444.