Morning-after misgivings and defensiveness by some members of LSU’s Board of Supervisors (The Advocate, Tuesday, page 1A) should not fool anyone regarding their shameful power play at the behest of the governor in firing LSU System President John Lombardi. How can one of them speak of “absolute truth” and deny that it was done behind closed doors when votes had been counted before the meeting as became clear when board colleagues on the other side questioned what was going to happen at last Friday’s meeting (The Advocate, April 28, page 1A)? He is not even internally consistent, saying that the action “took shape informally over several months.” If so, why violate rules of procedure to bring up an item not placed on the agenda by the required date?
The same board member worsens matters when he claims that he “was picked (by the governor) because of my knowledge of higher education!”
What are the credentials of either of these men in higher education? The governor has none, does not even seem to have learned the biology taught for the undergraduate degree he has.
This board member, a protégé of a previous governor as is also the current one, is a CEO of a convention and visitor’s bureau. On the other hand, Faculty Senate presidents of both SU and LSU, senior professors with real knowledge of higher education, were ignored when they spoke against the Friday cabal.
The board member talks of the respect with which the administration has treated him. Should the same not have been shown to a president who has worked five years for the board? Boards are supposed to shield universities from political interference by governors and legislatures. Accreditation agencies such as SACS requiring so. This governor, in particular, seems to dismiss anyone who opposes him including now the president of the major state university system.
With the Legislature and boards in the governor’s pocket, and the same board members who have done his bidding now appointed to find Lombardi’s replacement, some even on the board wonder “who would come to LSU, unless they are a yes-man or a puppet.” Business interests that have appointed themselves as a coalition for LSU may well pop in one of their own, further coloring how the rest of the nation looks at goings-on here.
Gov. Huey Long also unjustly fired (LSU Reveille editors) in his time. But, at least, he was a populist who did good things for the state’s infrastructure and hospitals and had the virtue of being colorful. What we have today is petty and mean-spirited abuse of power with no redeeming aspects and, worse, one destroying health care and education in this state.
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