LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – Dr. Philip C. Williams was officially inaugurated as the sixth president of McNeese State University on Sunday.
Following a ceremony rich in university tradition, Williams laid out his vision for the university in his inaugural address and shared how he planned on tackling imminent challenges like the fiscal crisis.
Williams said McNeese is fortunate when compared to most universities in Louisiana thanks to the fiscal policies of his predecessor, Dr. Robert Hebert.
"Because of his unselfish commitment to McNeese, I have inherited a strong administrative team and an institutional financial structure uniquely positioned to weather the economic storm we are experiencing," said Williams.
Williams said while cuts would have to be made to such things like travel, he would fight to ensure that the quality of education students expect to get does not change.
In a one-on-one interview with 7 News after the ceremony, Williams also addressed concerns over student parking.
Last month, McNeese freshman Ashlea Richard was killed after she was struck by a vehicle while on her way to class. Many blame the school's inadequate crosswalks for contributing to Richard's death, since freshmen who live off-campus have to park near the football stadium across the street.
Williams said the solution to the parking and crosswalk problems are being addressed in the short-term by enforcing jaywalking laws and reducing the speed limit near campus.
"Long-term what we see is a parking garage," said Williams.
Williams wrapped up his inaugural address metaphorically comparing the future of MSU to an airplane that had just lifted off the runway.
"As we rise higher and higher above the clouds, we may begin to notice that the brightness of the sky begins to deepen to a rich shade," said Williams. "I can think of only two words that can capture that beautiful color. Those two words are 'Go Blue!'"
Williams has actually been serving as president of the university since July 1st, after he was selected by the Louisiana Board of Supervisors on April 23, 2010.