BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's higher education commissioner said Wednesday that he won't seek a contract renewal when his current deal as the state's chief policy leader for public colleges ends in March.
Jim Purcell, who has been in the job since February 2011, notified the Board of Regents about his decision at its monthly meeting.
"I'm appreciative of the privilege to serve the board and the campuses, faculty and students and citizens of this great state of Louisiana. I look forward to working with you all over the next few months during the search for the next commissioner and the transition as needed," he said.
The announcement wasn't necessarily a surprise.
Purcell's time in Louisiana has been rocky, and he recently applied for a higher education position in Florida, though he didn't get the job.
He has often been at odds with Gov. Bobby Jindal over the depth of budget cuts, with more than $700 million in state funding stripped from higher education by the Jindal administration and lawmakers since 2008.
Earlier this year, several Republican state lawmakers said Jindal was trying to pressure the Board of Regents to fire Purcell.
Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said Purcell didn't tell the governor of his plans to leave the commissioner's job. Plotkin wished him well and noted that graduation rates have been rising despite the budget cuts.
Purcell's $275,000-a-year contract in Louisiana runs through March 20.
Before being chosen as Louisiana's commissioner, Purcell was director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. He'd also worked in higher education planning and policy in Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama.