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St. Pete chancellor may leave USF St. Pete

USF St. Petersburg Chancellor Karen White is under consideration for the presidency of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and will interview for the position with a search committee Monday.

White, 56, who took the helm at the USF St. Petersburg for interim vice president Ralph Wilcox in 2003, is one of five candidates pared down from an applicant pool of 38.

In a written statement, White said she was not seeking the position when contacted by a search firm representing the University of Louisiana system, but has “allowed the nomination to move forward because of (her) long-term associations with the state and its universities.”

During her time as chancellor, the regional campus achieved separate accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), which gave USF St. Petersburg the authority to grant tenure and promotions, handle registration and approve changes to courses and curriculum.

Though the campus realized a level of relative autonomy under White’s tenure, the push for separate accreditation from the main Tampa campus came first from Bill Heller, a former USF St. Petersburg professor and dean who now serves in the Florida House of Representatives.

Heller resigned from his position as Chief Executive Officer at USF St. Petersburg at the behest of USF President Judy Genshaft, after the relationship between faculty at the regional campus and administrators at the Tampa campus became increasingly fractious.

During White’s time as chancellor, USF St. Petersburg’s student body has grown from 4,000 to 5,000 and opened its first campus residence hall.

With an enrollment around 16,000, UL Lafayette is the largest of eight schools in the University of Louisiana system.

It offers 80 undergraduate and 29 graduate degree programs, and has been identified by the Carnegie Foundation as a “research university with high activity,” a designation that puts it into the same category as schools such as Clemson and Auburn.