The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

Get to know Southeastern’s new president: Dr. William Wainwright

Chloe Williams
Dr. Wainwright smiling towards the future just outside of Dyson Hall with Friendship Oak in sight.

On April 27, Dr. William S. Wainwright was announced as Southeastern’s fifteenth president. 

The Louisiana native succeeds Dr. John L. Crain, who held the position for just over 14 years since being appointed in February 2009. 

Wainwright’s educational history spans three schools across the state. After completing his undergraduate degree in criminal justice at what was then the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), he intended to pursue a career in law. During his internship, though, he realized that wasn’t his path. 

“That’s why I’m a huge proponent of our students getting out into industry or business well ahead of their senior year and taking full advantage of opportunities,” Wainwright said.  

He then got a Master of Education in adult and continuing education from Northwestern State University before concluding his collegiate studies with a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of New Orleans.  

After 24 years in higher education administration, most recently as chancellor of Northshore Technical Community College (NTCC), Wainwright is well-equipped to take on his new role at Southeastern. 

During his seven-year tenure at NTCC, Wainwright expanded the campus and tripled enrollment, leading to exponential growth for the institution. 

With this in mind, Wainwright said he is enjoying the change of scenery and looks forward to tackling the challenges that come with being a university president. 

“In community colleges, all of our population is commuter. Southeastern does have a large commuter population, and I’m attuned to their needs. They are balancing a lot, possibly working while going to school and commuting. That’s why I am looking forward to introducing our new commuter meal plan this fall to help tackle some of the challenges our commuters face,” Wainwright explained. 

He also said he is ready to dive into residential Lion life to ensure students benefit from being on campus and can highly engage in activities. And campus life pertains not only to students, but Wainwright himself. 

He and his family have been in the process of moving into the Presidential House this summer, along with exploring campus. He and his wife Misty are regulars at the Mane Dish, and he told students to expect to see them there.  

The new role as president is a change for Wainwright and his family. However, they are no strangers to the Lion lifestyle, which they have fully embraced. Their children have grown up knowing Southeastern and attending events on campus. 

Zachary and Ella, Wainwright’s children, are both current college students and have tons of friends at SLU, according to their dad. Zach is beginning his senior year at Southern Miss as a healthcare marketing major, while Ella will attend the Trent Lott Leadership Institute at Ole Miss. 

With this career change in his father’s life, Zach said, “Out of all honesty, it is very surreal. I’m very proud of my father knowing how hard he has worked to achieve this goal along with the amount of balance he had to maintain between work and family. He is very dedicated when it comes to helping other students strive for success.”

Zach mentioned his admiration for the President’s Residence and wanted to shout out Mrs. Sandra for keeping the house in excellent condition. 

When it comes to Wainwright’s vision for the future of SLU, there are many plans he has in store to help the university be its absolute best. 

During the presidential search, a hot topic that was brought up to all of the possible presidents was how the next leader would improve enrollment and retention rates. Wainwright found that in order to do this, he and others at Southeastern need to know their students in order to predict the challenges they are facing that can cause enrollment to suffer. 

“Recently, we worked with enrollment and admissions and we identified a target group of students who were undecided and did an intentional outreach to them. We later followed up with our commuter meal plan and in total, we received 150 responses,” he described. 

Wainwright remains “cautiously optimistic” that there will be a strong boost in enrollment for the fall in comparison to last year. 

Another question the new president had to face, which was actually brought up by a Lion’s Roar opinion piece, was a concern for how the arts would be treated by the next president, especially considering Wainwright’s background revolving around STEM. However, he admires and appreciates the arts as a former marching band and wind ensemble member. 

He said he is very excited to take a deeper dive into the arts at Southeastern. 

Wainwright stated, “The arts are incredibly important to us, to our communities. When you look at arts and humanities, you’re really looking at global citizenship, respect for design, respect for intelligence, respect for architecture…There is so much that is just missed that we hope to help illuminate.”  

When it comes to Southeastern athletics, Wainwright hopes to continue to give student-athletes access to the tools they need to be successful in academics and health and wellness.   

Lastly, regarding all student engagement, the new president plans to give students a voice and learn more about what SLU could offer students through the use of surveys and asking what they would like to see on campus. 

Wainwright said he is going to be very hands-on and will walk around campus to interact with students and encourage them to be honest with him about their feelings toward the university.  

Overall, the new pride leader is optimistic about the future of SLU.  

“Any leader will tell you they want to leave a place better than they found it, and I found Southeastern in a great position. But I’ll also tell you, what Southeastern will be in 10 years will be a culmination of a university family, students, faculty and staff, who are all sharing the same vision,” Wainwright concluded.

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About the Contributors
Chloe Williams
Chloe Williams, Editor-in-Chief
Chloe Williams is an English major with a concentration in creative writing and minors in communication and theater. She hopes to become a newspaper reporter who will be able to write and travel for the news and spread the voice of the people. You can find her anywhere that contains a stage, hanging out and eating with her friends on campus or taking a nap when she gets the chance.
Chase Gispert
Chase Gispert, Sports Editor
Chase Gispert is a communication major with a concentration in sports communication. He joined The Lion’s Roar in March of 2021 and now serves as sports editor. Chase is a native of Madisonville. He has a strong passion for sports and is excited about where the future may take him.
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    Joey GrazianoAug 23, 2023 at 3:16 am

    Enjoyed the article.. well written piece