The University of Louisiana System Board has unanimously named Willie “Dynamite” Larkin, chief of staff in the Office of the President at Morgan State University, as Grambling’s next president.
“I’ve got a big job ahead of me, and I really owe it to a lot of people who have paved the way,” Larkin said. “I will do my very best every day to make sure that this board’s selection of me as the president was a wise decision, and I will validate that they were right in selecting me.”
Sandra Woodley, president of the University of Louisiana System, said the board has been looking for a strong leader who will move Grambling to the next level.
“Dr. Larkin has a wealth of experiences from a lot of different universities. I find him to be full of ideas. Dr. Larkin is also very balanced in his approach. He is very programmatic. He brings a lot to this university,” Woodley said.
Grambling’s alumni are also looking forward to working with Grambling’s next president to bring long-term stability to the institution.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Larkin to the Grambling State University family,” said Grambling State University National Alumni President Melissa Bickham. “Dr. Larkin brings a wealth of academic and transformative leadership to Grambling. He has proven himself to be an effective and entrepreneurial leader who promotes innovation, collaboration and an unwavering commitment to academic excellence and student success. We look forward to building a strong relationship with Dr. Larkin during his tenure as the ninth president of Grambling State University.”
Willie Larkin grew up as the son of a sharecropping farmer, the oldest of eight children, whose mother encouraged him to pursue a college education, even though his father wanted him to stay and work on the farm.
Larkin received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Tuskegee University in 1973 and his master’s degree in extension education from Tuskegee University in 1974. He completed his doctoral studies in agricultural education/extension at Ohio State University in 1980.
Prior to his five years of service as chief of staff, Larkin spent four years as senior special assistant and chief of staff to the chancellor at the University of Wisconsin Colleges and UW-Extension, where he had oversight of nearly 3,000 employees and an operating budget of more than $300 million.
He also served as the faculty advisor to the Auburn University Board of Trustees and chaired a 90-member University Senate at Auburn University. Prior to that, Larkin spent more than 20 years working as a leadership and organizational development specialist at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.