Q&A: Get to Know LSU Executive Vice President & Provost Roy Haggerty

August 01, 2022

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LSU Executive Vice President & Provost Roy Haggerty 

BATON ROUGE-  Roy Haggerty begins his tenure as LSU’s executive vice president and provost on Monday, Aug. 1. Haggerty formerly served as the dean of the College of Science and Professor of Environmental Geology at Oregon State University since 2017. He has also served as interim dean of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and as associate vice president of research at OSU. 

As a distinguished scholar and academic leader Haggerty will coordinate and consult with all chief academic officers throughout the LSU enterprise to advance the university’s scholarship first agenda and overall academic programs worldwide.  

Haggerty spoke about his humble beginnings, leadership philosophies, the decision to come to LSU and his excitement to put President Tate’s Scholarship First agenda into action.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What led you to a career in academia?
“I grew up on a farm in rural Alberta, Canada and I am the first in my family to attend college.  Ever since I was a young boy, I have always loved learning and trying to understand everything I could about a broad range of topics.  I have had a lifelong interest in Earth science and Earth history, astrophysics (and physics in general), economics, languages (particularly Spanish), philosophy, history, Latin America, and others. I have always been drawn to the fundamentals in the arts and sciences. While I didn't know I wanted to be in academics for many years, in retrospect, it is obvious that I would be an academic. Universities are the greatest force for improving human wellbeing because they are about generating, propagating and preserving knowledge, and knowledge is the most important element (necessary, but not sufficient) in solving any problem.” 

Being new to LSU and to Louisiana, there will be a lot to learn during your first year. What are you looking forward to the most?  
“I am most looking forward to learning about the great scholarship that is going on at LSU and to advancing President Tate's ‘Scholarship First’ vision and to see that vision succeed in helping Louisiana to prosper.” 

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What is your leadership style and philosophy? What leader(s) do you admire the most and strive to emulate? 
“ Four elements of my philosophy are the following. First, you have to have a vision of where you want to take an organization, and the people who work with you need to know what it is.  George Washington Carver said, 'Where there is no vision, there is no hope.’ Second, my top priority is to make the people who work for me successful, and to make my boss successful.  If everyone does that, then the organization succeeds.  Third, good leaders delegate authority to those who need it and are capable of exercising it, and then stay out of their way while holding them accountable.  Lastly, no problem can be fixed without understanding it. Step one is to ask enough questions and get the data. 

I'm not sure if there is a single leader that I admire the most, but there are a few people that inspire me.  Before I give their names, it's important to mention that all leaders have flaws - people are complex and most people contain a mix of good and bad.  I admire Thomas Jefferson for his vision and love of knowledge, Shakespeare's Henry V and Volodymyr Zelenskyy for their ability to inspire in the face of adversity, Martin Luther King Jr. for his call to America to live up to its own ideals, and Katalin Karikó for her relentless, multi-decadal pursuit of the mRNA vaccine.” 

What (piece of research/publication/grant/discovery) are you most proud of in your career thus far?   
“Scientifically, I am probably proudest of my 2008 publication and discovery of ‘smart tracers.’  I did a sabbatical in Catalonia, and in that year, I conceived of and developed the world's first smart tracer, which is a tracer that, while moving with water in the environment, senses and records information about the environment through which it moves.  Administratively, I am probably proudest of my leadership to form, with nine colleagues, an organization (TRACE) which did tremendous work to test 80,000 people across Oregon for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, with a particular focus on communities of color.  This was done in the heart of the pandemic, and we showed that universities can move quickly to do very important work that applies knowledge to a pressing problem, and that the work can be done in a way that increases equity and inclusivity.” 

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What makes LSU unique in the research environment?   
“LSU is unique in the scholarship pentagon - Agriculture, Biotechnology, Coast, Defense and Energy.  These five scholarship themes are uniquely important and strong at LSU, linking the university to the needs and strengths of Louisiana, and I look forward to helping LSU to build them all to the absolute best they can be.” 

How have you empowered faculty to be innovative in their research and in their teaching? How do you celebrate those accomplishments?  
“Faculty need support for their scholarship and teaching.  For example, that is why we are soon going to announce new seed funding to help support the creation of teams and their initial work to go after great ideas to move LSU forward in the scholarship pentagon and allied areas.  Faculty are the foundation of all great universities. It is their ideas that students seek, and their ideas that change the world.  You will see and hear me celebrating our faculty all the time, in everything from giving them awards recognizing their work to developing funding to seed their research to touting their accomplishments to the public and to our leaders.” 

You have mentored more than 30 students during your time as a faculty member. What advice do you have for a new faculty member looking to be a successful mentor? 
“The most significant thing that a faculty member can give any student is their time, and the next most valuable thing is the resources they need to make discoveries on their own.”  

What do you like to do during your free time?  
“I am a runner.  I'm not very fast anymore, but I like to get out for an hour or so at least six times a week.  I am a Spanish speaker, and take every opportunity I can to read, speak or listen to Spanish with friends and colleagues.  My wife, Amanda, and I enjoy long walks with our Great Dane, Darwin.” 

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Anything else you would like to add?  
“I can't wait to meet all of you and to see what great things LSU students, faculty and staff will do in the coming years.  Geaux Tigers!” 

For more information on the LSU Office of Academic Affairs, visit https://www.lsu.edu/academicaffairs/