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Tom Galligan, Interim LSU president, withdraws from consideration for permanent job

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BATON ROUGE - The search for a new head of LSU came to an abrupt about-face Tuesday as assumed favorite Tom Galligan announced he was withdrawing his name from consideration.

In a sit-down interview with WBRZ, Galligan said he has been wrestling with this decision for the last month making the final call just two days ago.

"It's been a stressful year for all of us. My youngest daughter Jennifer when I told her Sunday said you know, dad, that's probably better for your health, and she's probably right," said Galligan.

When Galligan first took on the role in January 2020 there was no pandemic and no accusations of sexual assault complaints against the university.

"I would be lying if I didn't say it was a challenge," said Galligan.

Those issues, though aren't the main reason why he has had a change in heart. He and his wife recently visited his family, including his 14-month old grandson after not seeing them for a lengthy amount of time.

"Our kids are in Nashville, they are in New Hampshire and in California and I realized that I'm not going to be able to see my family that much if I'm in this job no matter how hard I try, and that's really important to me," said Galligan.

He also missed spending time in the LSU Law Center where he will be returning to teach.

"Over however many years I've been in higher education, 30-plus years, I've never been out of the classroom this long so I'm getting classroom withdrawal," said Galligan.

Hours after the news broke Tuesday, LSU's Presidential Search Committee said it will convene Wednesday to consider candidates for interviews. 

The announcement comes as LSU grapples with the fallout from its Title IX controversies. 

Galligan also wrote a letter to the LSU community about his decision, writing: 

Dear Friends,


As the search for a permanent president moves to the critical stages, I have given much thought to the future, what is best for LSU, and what is best for me and my family.


When I first arrived at LSU in 1986 as a faculty member at LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, I learned very quickly how much I loved teaching and writing about my subjects: torts and admiralty. My tenure as Interim President marks the longest period of my higher education career that I have not been in the classroom. To say that I miss teaching very much is an understatement.


Life brings about many moments of reflection and transition, some that require you to rethink your priorities. Many of you know, though many may not, that my family experienced a great tragedy in the months immediately preceding my taking this position. Our middle daughter, Aisling, was diagnosed with a very aggressive and rare form of non-small cell lung cancer in October 2018 during her second year of medical school at Brown University, and passed away in August 2019. It was a time when our family needed to continue to band together, and we did. Just a few months after Aisling died, the Board of Supervisors asked me to consider accepting the role of Interim President. I did so eagerly, but I had no idea how much change lay ahead.


It has been exciting and challenging but since the onslaught of the pandemic, we have not been able to see our children or our 14-month old grandson as much as we would have liked. We were finally able to go to New Hampshire a few weeks ago to see our grandchild for the first time since he was seven days old. I do not have to tell you how special that was, and it was during that wonderful visit when I began reflecting on what is most important and realized that it was time for me to make a change. It is now time for us to be able to spend more time together.


So, given both personal and professional considerations, I have decided it is time for me to return to the Law Center and spend more time with my family and my students. Consequently, I have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the presidential search, though I will remain onboard as Interim President while the university completes its selection process.


It has been and continues to be an honor to serve LSU as Interim President, and I look forward to working with whomever is selected to fill the seat permanently. Thank you for all your hard work, dedication and support.


Tom Galligan

Interim LSU President and Professor of Law


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