Why choose Louisiana
for Higher Education?

The benefits of a Louisiana higher education degree are endless! Whether choosing an Associate’s degree at one of our Community and Technical Colleges, a Bachelors, Masters, or Ph.D. at one of our four-year institutions, or even a professional degree at one of our medical or law schools your educational experience at any Louisiana public institution is guaranteed to positively impact your future. Read More >>

Narrowing the Gap Speakers                                                                 

King Alexander
President & Chancellor, Louisiana State University System and Chancellor of LSU A&M College


Dr. F. King Alexander is the President and Chancellor of Louisiana State University, which enrolls more than 44,000 students and includes institutions across Louisiana. He began at LSU on June 24, 2013. 

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Alexander was president of California State University, Long Beach (2005-2013) one of the nation’s largest public universities. During his more than seven-year tenure at California State University, Long Beach, Dr. Alexander was twice named the California State University Student Association (CSSA) “President of the Year,” which represents all 23 California State Universities and its more than 440,000 students.

Prior to becoming president of California State University, Long Beach, Dr. Alexander was president of Murray State University in Kentucky (2001-2005) and was a faculty member at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where he was the director of the graduate higher education program.

A Kentucky native who grew up in north Florida, Dr. Alexander received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in higher education administration with a focus on finance and educational policy analysis, and a Master of Science degree in comparative educational studies from the University of Oxford in Oxford, England.

As a teacher and administrator, Dr. Alexander has received many honors, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education Alumni Achievement Award (2002) and has research university faculty affiliations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for the Study of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) and Cornell University Higher Education Research Institute (CHERI).

Dr. Alexander also has been asked to represent public higher education colleges and universities on numerous occasions to the United State Congress on issues of college affordability, student indebtedness, and institutional efficiency and effectiveness in efforts to address many of the growing challenges facing American higher education. Due to his national recognition and involvement in higher education issues, Dr. Alexander has served on numerous U.S. higher education and statewide organizational leadership boards, and remains very active in policy and planning discussions.

Dr. Alexander and his wife, Shenette, have three children: Kylie, Savannah and Madison.

Ray Belton
President & Chancellor, Southern University System and Chancellor of SU A&M College


The SU System Board of Supervisors named Ray L. Belton President-Chancellor of the Southern University System, the nation’s only historically black university system, on June 12, 2015.  Previously Chancellor of Southern University Shreveport (SUSLA) since 2000, Belton has accumulated more than 27 years of experience in higher education. 

As the Chief Executive Officer of one of the member institutions within the Southern University A & M College System, he brought oversight to three campus sites, an undergraduate population of more than 3,000 students, and an operating budget of approximately $24 million. During his tenure as Chancellor of the Shreveport campus, the university enjoyed unprecedented growth resulting in an enrollment increase of over 156 percent.  The campus has been nationally recognized as both the 22nd fastest-growing institution of its size and as one of the best performing institutions in the country. Currently, the institution’s graduation rate has doubled and the University has realized extraordinary success in shaping opportunities for high school students and fostering economic and workforce development initiatives for the community to include the establishment of a Center for Business Development and Incubation.  

Further, under Dr. Belton’s leadership, the University initiated the establishment of an ASN program in nursing and expanded the academic inventory of allied health offerings that average first time passage rates of over 90 percent on national registries.  Over the last 14 years SUSLA acquired more than $34 million to support capital improvements including: academic structures, student centers, and the first time development of student apartments (one of only two at community colleges in the state) at the institution.  Previously, Dr. Belton served in administrative roles at the university level to include Director, Department Head, Associate Professor, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and Executive Vice Chancellor.  His teaching experience spans over 12 years, and his demonstrated leadership led him to be nominated and elected Faculty Senate President. 

Dr. Belton has held several national leadership positions including serving on the Board of Trustees of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (COC-SACS), as a Commissioner on Diversity and Inclusion for the American Association of Community Colleges, the Executive Board of the Louisiana Campus Compact, and the National Advisory Board of Community Renewal International.  His statewide affiliations include serving in senior leadership roles with the Consortium for Education, Research and Technology (CERT), Biomedical Research Foundation, Alliance for Education, Coordinating & Development Corporation of Northwest Louisiana and as a member of the local Chambers and Committee of 100.

Early in his career, he served on active duty in the United States Army for eight years on assignments stateside and abroad and was recognized as one of the top non-commissioned officers of his brigade.  He also endeavored to serve as a licensed professional counselor while engaging with individuals, groups and families in various therapeutic settings prior to venturing into higher education. Dr. Belton has received numerous awards, to name a few, they include: the Leader of the New Century, from the Shreveport Times and the Distinguished Achievement Award, from Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.  He is also the recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Community Service Award sponsored by the Black Lawyers Association and is recognized as the  “2001 Distinguished Graduate,” University of Texas at Austin, Community College Leadership Program, Austin, TX.  

Dr. Belton is a native of Shreveport, Louisiana who graduated from SUSLA and continued his studies at Southern University A&M College where he graduated first in his class.  He further earned a Master of Arts in Counseling from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.   Belton is married to Norma B. Belton.  They have a combined family of six children and four grandchildren.


Barry Erwin 
President, Council for a Better Louisiana 


Mr. Barry Erwin is a Louisiana native who serves as President of the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL). CABL is a statewide, nonprofit membership organization that works on issues that impact the quality of life in Louisiana. CABL is involved in numerous public policy issues at the state level, including education, workforce development, state fiscal policies and governmental ethics.  The organization also operates the nationally recognized Leadership Louisiana program, which now boasts an alumni base of more than 1,000 state and community leaders from across Louisiana. Erwin began doing consulting work for CABL in 1995. He became President in 2001. 

Mr. Erwin worked on numerous public affairs projects prior to joining CABL on issues such as education, health care and the judiciary. He spent 15 years as a television journalist and was a capitol correspondent for WBRZ-TV. His work as a journalist has garnered state, regional, and national awards.  Mr. Erwin graduated from Louisiana Tech University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.  He is active in the Baton Rouge community and has served on the Board of Directors of Baton Rouge Youth and is Past President of the ARC of Baton Rouge. 

CABL is a nonprofit, nonpartisan statewide organization working on issues in the public interest. It does this by raising citizen awareness, advancing public policies, holding government accountable, and fostering civic leadership.   CABL was founded in 1962 with the mission of improving the quality of life for all citizens of Louisiana.  CABL values cultural diversity within its programs, and is dedicated to the powerful ideas and issues that bind people together, as they work to move Louisiana forward.
Unique among statewide organizations, CABL promotes ideas for the betterment of Louisiana that cut across political, social and ideological boundaries. CABL's greatest asset has always been its members. The organization draws from a rich resource of citizen leaders who bring a wealth of experience, expertise and fresh ideas to the discussion of important public policies.
CABL's members are involved. Collectively, they offer an independent voice of reason, articulating public concerns on the critical issues of the day, while holding elected officials accountable to voters.  Involvement in CABL yields results. State leaders look to CABL as an active participant in efforts to improve education, economic development and the operations of state government.
Over the years, CABL has continued to grow because it is a place where people who are truly concerned about Louisiana can come together and work for the common good. It focuses its resources on the positive changes needed to move our state forward economically, educationally and culturally. CABL's record is one of committed involvement, advancing positive ideas in the public arena and the corridors of government. The organization's priorities are a clear reflection of its mission, to make Louisiana a better place for all who live here.

Curt Eysink
Executive Director, Louisiana Workforce Commission


Mr. Curt Eysink serves as executive director for the Louisiana Workforce Commission. He joined the agency in 2008 and was appointed executive director in July 2009 by Gov. Bobby Jindal.  During Eysink’s tenure, the Workforce Commission has made great strides.  It imposes the lowest unemployment insurance tax burden on employers in the nation, and operates one of the strongest unemployment insurance trust funds in the nation.

The Workforce Commission has implemented game-changing reforms in workers’ compensation that are saving employers and injured workers millions of dollars of unnecessary litigation costs while improving medical treatment and speeding up the time it takes for injured workers to return to work.  And in the past year alone, the Workforce Commission has helped nearly 170,000 people in Louisiana get a job or a better job.

Before joining LWC, Eysink was the director of marketing for Louisiana Health Care Review, Inc., a Baton Rouge-based healthcare improvement and medical management company serving federal and state clients. As a member of the company’s leadership team, he was primarily responsible for all business development and communications activities.

Before that, he was the city editor of The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, with responsibility for local news coverage and the newspaper’s Washington, D.C., bureau.

He is a graduate of O. Perry Walker High School in New Orleans and LSU in Baton Rouge.

Vision -- We will make Louisiana the best place in the country to get a job or grow a business, and our goal is to be the country's best workforce agency.

Mission -- We put people to work.

Core Values

  • Integrity and respect: We treat each other with respect; our actions and our words are considerate, honest and ethical; we do what we say we will do.
  • Open communication: We seek first to understand--we listen, we give and receive meaningful feedback, we value different opinions and perspectives.
  • Accountability: We work on the right things, we hold each other accountable, we follow the rules and we use LWC resources wisely.
  • Teamwork: We all work as part of the larger LWC team, we collaborate across boundaries, we agree on and work toward common goals.
  • Continuous improvement: We set high standards and goals using external benchmarks, we are data-driven and self-critical, we analyze and improve our processes.
  • Adaptability: We welcome and adapt to change, we respond quickly to customer needs, economic challenges inspire new ways of doing business.

Scott Jenkins
Director of State Policy at the Lumina Foundation


Scott Jenkins is currently theDirector of State Policy at the Lumina Foundation. Prior to Lumina, Scott served as the Senior Education Policy Director for Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana. In this capacity, he directed the Governor’s education agenda in the Department of Education, Commission for Higher Education and the Legislature. Scott was instrumental in creating WGU – Indiana under the leadership of Governor Daniels.

He has worked for 20 years in both the state and federal government, culminating his public sector work as a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the United States Department of Education. In his varied career in public service, he has worked in Florida and Michigan Departments of Education and State Legislatures. He also served as former Michigan Governor John Engler’s Education Policy Coordinator.



Ben Kennedy,
President & Founder, 
Kennedy & Company, Higher Education Consulting Firm


Ben Kennedy is the President and Founder of Kennedy & Company, aboutique higher education consulting firm specializing in helping universities with their toughest challenges related to enrollment, student retention, online offerings, and financial sustainability.

Ben is the former leader of Huron Education Group’s Enrollment and Retention practice, a former growth strategy consultant with Bain & Company, and a former member of the Duke University Board of Trustees. Ben has also worked within a University, as the Strategic Advisor to the Chief Financial Officer at the University of South Carolina and to the Chancellor of USC’s Palmetto College.

In all, Ben has served more than 25 colleges and universities on issues ranging from enrollment strategy, to administrative cost reductions, to comprehensive reevaluations of institutional strategy and sustainability. His most recent publication/presentation, for NACUBO, addresses trends in tuition discounting nationwide.

Joseph C. Rallo Ph.D.
Commissioner of Higher Education, Board of Regents


Dr. Joseph C. Rallo became the 8th Commissioner of Higher Education of the Board of Regents on January 2, 2015. 

Previously in 2012 he was appointed as the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the Texas Tech University System (TTUS), which enrolls over 42,000 students, with a system budget of more than $1.7 billion.

Dr. Rallo also served as President of Angelo State University, a component campus of the Texas Tech University System, in San Angelo, Texas from 2007 to 2012.  Prior to that appointment he served as Provost and Academic Vice President at Western Illinois University, and as the Dean of the College of Business and Administration and the Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

Dr. Rallo has published extensively on global business topics with an emphasis on the European Union and Japan.  Dr. Rallo has also been named as a Fulbright Scholar and NATO Fellow and has testified before United States Senate committees on technology transfer policy for the United States and the European Union.

Dr. Rallo has held senior leadership positions on several boards and served as the Chair of the Texas Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors (CPUPC), President of the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC) and member Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS COC).

Dr. Rallo served on active duty in the United States Navy and the United States Air Force, with multiple assignments in complex command level organizations. After 27 years of active and reserve service, he retired from the Air Force with the rank of Colonel.

Dr. Rallo received the B.A. in Russian History from Lafayette College, the J.D. from Western New England University, as well as the M.A. and Ph.D. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Monty Sullivan
President, Louisiana Community and Technical System


Dr. Monty Sullivanwas selected as the 4th President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System on February 12, 2014.  He officially began his presidency on February 27, 2014.  Prior to being selected as president he served as Chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans for nearly two years. Under his leadership, Delgado experienced a systemic and cultural resurgence with nearly $200 million in facility developments, significant gains in foundation giving, substantial increases in student success rates, record numbers of graduates, and a reconnection with the business community.

Dr. Sullivan has served in six different colleges and in two state community and technical college systems over the last two decades providing a broad background understanding the importance of higher education in solving the most pressing needs of communities, industry, and people. He has worked successfully in both state and federal advocacy efforts to improve the policy environment.

He previously served as Executive Vice President for the LCTCS where he led efforts to target federal Carl Perkins and state Rapid Response funds to solve critical workforce needs. He also provided leadership for Louisiana’s technical colleges and oversaw the development of WorkReadyU, the state’s adult basic education effort.

Prior to joining the LCTCS, Dr. Sullivan served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Services and Research for the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). In addition to his duties as Vice Chancellor, he also served a dual role as Interim President of Eastern Shore Community College. While in Virginia, he provided leadership for the Vice Presidents of Virginia's 23 community colleges advancing transfer, developmental education, student success, and faculty professional development initiatives.

Dr. Sullivan was one of the founding employees of Louisiana Delta Community College in 2001. He has also served as Director of the Center for Rural Development at Louisiana Tech University, Director of Continuing Education at Louisiana State University at Eunice, and Coordinator of the Mobile Automated Learning Lab (MALL) Project at Grambling State University.

Dr. Sullivan is married to Kelley Miles Sullivan, a Registered Nurse and a graduate of John Tyler Community College. The couple has four daughters - Logan, Maci, Baylee, and Allie.

John White
Superintendent, Louisiana Department of Education


John White was named Louisiana State Superintendent of Education in January of 2012. That year he launched Louisiana Believes, the state’s plan to ensure every child is on track to college or a professional career. In the time since, White has worked to unify the state’s fragmented early childhood system, to modernize expectations for students, to empower teachers, to guarantee economic opportunity for high school graduates, and to provide families with expansive school options.

Since 2011, Louisiana’s high school graduation rate has risen by 3.2 percentage points. Roughly 6,300 more graduates annually achieve a college-going ACT score than did in 2011. Louisiana is now the nation’s fastest-improving state on Advanced Placement tests, increasing the number of students earning passing scores by 89 percent in that time. And the number of students entering college has grown by more than 3,100 - a 16 percent increase.

Prior to being named State Superintendent, White served as Superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District, overseeing the nation’s first system of publicly-funded charter and non-public schools in New Orleans and launching the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone to replicate successes in New Orleans.
Prior to moving to Louisiana, White worked in New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein. While in New York he served as Deputy Chancellor, launching the Innovation Zone, a network of 100 21st Century schools that use technology to personalize student learning, and leading the city's efforts to turn around more than 100 failing schools and start 500 new charter and district schools.

White previously served as Executive Director of Teach For America – Chicago and Teach For America – New Jersey. He began his career as an English teacher at William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City, New Jersey.
White received a B.A. in English with distinction from the University of Virginia and a Master's in Public Administration from New York University. He serves as chairman of the independent non-profit advocacy organization Chiefs for Change.

Sandra Woodley
President, University of Louisiana System


Dr. Sandra K. Woodley is President of the University of Louisiana System, one of the largest public university systems in the country and the largest in the state, enrolling about 90,000 students with more than 16,000 graduates each year.

Prior to coming to Louisiana, Woodley served as the Vice Chancellor in charge of strategy, performance and policy research for the University of Texas System. She also previously served as chief financial officer and strategic planner in the three higher education systems in Arizona, Kentucky and Alabama.

A role model for non-traditional students, Woodley completed her education while working and raising three children. She started out in the community college system before earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Administration from Auburn University and a doctorate in Business Administration and Management from Nova Southeastern University.

During her first two years as UL System President, Dr. Woodley conducted three presidential searches; led a statewide peer analysis project; developed and implemented the system’s first interactive data dashboard to enhance transparency and strategic planning; explored ways to use technology and social media to connect students and employers; and negotiated a collaborative strategy that stabilized higher education funding for the first time in six years with a new $40 million strategic investment in higher education called the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) Fund.

She holds several national leadership positions including serving on the Board of Directors of the National Association of System Heads (NASH), participating in the Council of State Representatives for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). Her statewide affiliations include the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Council, the Louisiana Innovation Council, and the Committee of 100.

Woodley is a native of Weaver, Alabama, and is married to Stan Woodley. She has three grown children and one grandchild.