NSU could welcome first female President

Friends call her “Ginny.” Supporters call her “The woman for the job.” History will call her the first female President of Northwestern State University if Dr. Virginia Burkett is selected by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors on Nov. 8.

Many believe Dr. Burkett, a longtime resident of Sabine Parish who works in Washington DC, leads the pack of the top six semi-finalists, from whom will be named a new President of NSU.

Dr. Burkett is currently Chief Scientist in the U.S. Department of the Interior, heading up the Climate and Land Use Change, Office of International Programs, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

She is the only candidate for NSU President with local roots who has earned global respect. Her legacy of intellect and integrity reaches from Louisiana to Washington, DC, and across the world.

“In my opinion and experience, integrity is the essence of successful leadership,” Dr. Burkett shared in her Letter of Interest submitted recently to the University of Louisiana (UL) System Board, along with her 25-page resumé.

Her extensive Curriculum Vitae (CV) credentials include

– Proven leadership and administrative expertise statewide, nationally, and globally

– Management of State and Federal budgets of over $140 million dollars annually

– Management of over 750 full-time employees

– Contributing Author to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007

– Recipient of the Diversity Award five times by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior (2021) and the U.S. Geological Survey (2020, 2017, 2015 and 2014)

– Recipient of Minority Student and Faculty Enhancement Award (2003), National Urban & Community Conference for Minority and Underserved Communities

– First female in the United State to direct a state fish and wildlife agency

– Invited lecturer at Harvard, Stanford, West Point, Columbia, Princeton, Wheaton, U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs (UK) and other respected institutions

– Appointed by the White House to Co-Chair a $2.4 billion Global Change Research Program

– One of three generations to attend and graduate from NSU

– Long Purple Line inductee in 2011

– NSU Foundation Board from 2012 until present

– Service on approximately 70 other Boards, Committees and Science Panels

There are those who say Dr. Burkett does not have enough experience in academia to get the job. But her supporters say a lifetime spent in academia does not a leader make. They feel her stronger administrative skills are by far more desirable.

“As I have during every position I have every held, I would pour my energy, passion, and experience into leading NSU,” Dr. Burkett shared with the UL Board.

Her career is an achievement-filled example of commitment to excellence, intellect, an extraordinary work ethic and integrity.

When she left state government, the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate captured the great loss that was felt with an editorial cartoon depicting a bear sitting on a stump reading a newspaper with a headline about her departure. “Who will take care of me now?” the bear is lamenting.

Dr. Burkett has been published in dozens of peer-reviewed journals and definitive, encyclopedic publications (about 100 entries are listed on her CV) and one may doubt that is a complete list. She is that prolific. She also serves as Editor of the international scientific journal Regional Environmental Change and on the Editorial Board of Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics.

Dr. Burkett has given scores of media interviews ranging from The New York Times and US News and World Report to Louisiana Public Broadcasting and The Economist magazine. Those are only a few of the more recent examples. So, supporters say, she certainly has the experience and the wherewithal to represent NSU not only nationally, but around the world, and to represent it very well.

Dr. Burkett is a licensed Arborist, Master Gardener and holds a Private Pilot’s license. In addition, she is a beekeeper who harvests her own honey. She is a current member of the Louisiana State Museum of Geoscience Associates, (Charter Member); Louisiana Wildlife Biologists Association, (Life Member); American Association for the Advancement of Science and International Society of Arboriculture.

“To top it all off, Dr. Burkett is genuinely a nice person,” Laurie Gentry of Many shared on the supporters’ Burkett for NSU President Facebook page. “If you don’t know a lot about her, that’s because she is not the sort to self-promote or aggrandize her truly amazing achievements. Her work speaks for itself. The report she helped author which won a Nobel Prize is credited by many scientists and policymakers as being the catalyst for environmental change worldwide. Northwestern State University needs that kind of leadership.”

The UL System Board of Supervisors is welcoming input on whom they should select as NSU President. To send a letter of support:

EMAIL MEMBERS: northwesternpresidentialsearch@ulsystem.edu.

Email will be forwarded to all Board Members. They are Vice Chair Elizabeth Pierre of Monroe, Parliamentarian Jimmy Clarke of Lafayette, Barry Busada of Shreveport, John Condos of Lake Charles, Steve Davison of Ruston, Lola Dunahoe of Natchitoches, Thomas Kitchen of Metairie, Mimi Methvin of Lafayette, Alejandro “Al Perkins of Prairieville, Dana Peterson, Virgil Robinson Jr. of New Orleans, Mark Romero of Lafayette, Kristine Russell of Thibodaux, Joe Salter of Florien, Brad Stevens of Hammond, and Southeastern Louisiana University Student Board Member L’Oreal Williams.

“I pledge to work with our Board of Supervisors, faculty, administrators, alumni, and Natchitoches community and, most importantly, the students of our wonderful university in leading NSU to achieve new levels of success with all of our endeavors. …I cannot think of a more important investment of a lifetime of hard work and experience other than serving as the President of NSU,” Dr. Burkett shared.

Dr. Burkett’s
Curriculum Vitae/Resume: https://tinyurl.com/kpbxpjkk


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