Sasha Thackaberry latest administrator to leave LSU

Influential Women in Business
(Collin Richie)

Sasha Thackaberry, LSU’s vice president of online learning and continuing education, has left the school after a little more than three years for a top administrative post at National University, a San Diego-based institution that specializes in online learning.

She’s the latest of several LSU administrators to step down, relocate or retire since President William Tate took over in July.  

She will be replaced on an interim basis by Kappie Mumphrey, executive director for academic and strategic technology, according to a prepared statement by Matt Lee, who, himself, is serving in an interim position as executive vice president and provost.

“I am thankful to Dr. Thackaberry for her tremendous work over the past few years,” says Lee, who has been serving in the interim role since July, when Tate removed Stacia Haynie from that position during his first week on the job.

Thackaberry was unavailable for comment today, though she says in a text message she left LSU because she was recruited by National University, where she will serve as associate vice chancellor for learning experience design innovation.

During her tenure at LSU, Thackaberry was instrumental in reimagining and expanding LSU’s online learning. When she arrived in May 2018, the university had about 800 students enrolled in online degree or certificate programs. Today, it has more than 2,000, and the number of online degree and certificate programs has increased from 9 to 71.

She also helped lead LSU through the transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020.

It is not unusual for major institutions like LSU to see changes within the upper ranks when a new leader like Tate comes in, according to higher education experts.

Still, the number of changes in recent months has been significant. Besides Thackaberry’s departure and Haynie’s removal and replacement with Lee, other changes include:

  • Mark Bieger, Tate’s former chief of staff at the University of South Carolina, has been named vice president of strategy, a newly created position.
  • Cynthia Peterson, dean of the College of Science, has been named to another newly created position—president’s special adviser on science.
  • Luke Laborde has been named interim vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, replacing Bill Richardson, who recently stepped down from his administrative position to return to faculty in the College of Agriculture.

Other administrative changes are coincidental to Tate’s arrival, and were already planned or in the works when he came. They include:

  • Oliver Garden, who was named dean of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine in June following a national search.
  • Peter Trentacosta, who was named director of the Department of Residential Life following the retirement of Steve Waller.
  • Shawnna Eberhard-Smith, who was named director of the Office of Greek Life, following the retirement of Angela Guillory.
  • Jane Cassidy, who was named interim vice president for the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX early this year.

(Editor’s Note: This story has been revised since publication to correct the spelling of Cynthia Peterson’s name.)