The board of supervisors for the University of Louisiana System has named Philip Williams the sixth president of McNeese State University.

UL System Board Chairman Winfred Sibille said it was a “difficult decision” to make between Williams and MSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jan Daboval.

“Williams has a unique combination of experience in the public and private sector. President Hebert has successfully led McNeese for 23 years, and I look forward to President-elect Williams building upon that success,”

 UL System President Randy Moffett added, “We are very proud to have Philip Williams as part of the University of Louisiana System. I am confident the McNeese community will welcome Philip and Sandra with the same open and honest atmosphere the search committee and semi-finalist candidates experienced during the week of campus interview.”

 “I am very honored and humbled. I know that the board had a very thorough and deliberate process. To those who supported Dr. Daboval, we will reach out and listen. Now is a time to unify the campus,” said Williams.

During his interview Williams characterized his administration as “inclusive, transparent and visionary,” and he believes a president should be a “facilitator.” He also said McNeese has “tremendous potential, especially in developing and expanding partnerships with business and industry.”

He described himself as a student-centered president, who believes “every encounter with a student is a retention opportunity,” and he looks forward to meeting with McNeese students and attending campus events.

Williams holds a doctorate in health policy and administration, a master’s degree in public health and a bachelor of arts in history all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also earned a juris doctorate from the Columbia University School of Law.

Williams has served as president of the University of Montevallo since 2006. Prior service includes vice president for academic affairs and dean of Methodist College in North Carolina, assistant vice president for academic affairs and assistant professor of business administration at Gardner-Webb University and a fellowship at the Association of Schools of Public Health. He also served as corporate legal counsel for Sea World and its parent company Harcourt Brace Jovanaovich, Inc.

He has published children’s stories with his wife, Sandra. They have a 20-year-old son, Grant, who plans to transfer to McNeese and pursue a degree in computer science.

Established in 1939, McNeese is classified as a Carnegie Master’s University. The university enrolls more than 8,600 students and primarily serves the five-parish region of southwest Louisiana.

In January, McNeese’s fifth president, Robert Hebert, announced his decision to retire after 23 years as president effective June 30.