Claitor to file transparency bill

A Baton Rouge state senator wants to shed light on who receives the college scholarships awarded by members of Louisiana’s higher education management boards.

Each member of the LSU Board of Supervisors is allowed to award 20 scholarships, said state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge.

Members of the Southern University Board of Supervisors also have some scholarships to award, Claitor said, adding that legislation will be filed Monday for consideration in the session which opens April 8.

Claitor sponsored legislation previously that would have required members of college boards and other elected officials to file reports with the Louisiana Board of Ethics on the scholarships they have awarded.

The legislation died.

“I’m reversing direction not putting the onus on the (board) appointee, but placing it on the university,” Claitor said. “They are better situated to share the information anyway.”

The proposed legislation would require the chief executive officer of each higher education management board to file an electronic report annually with the Legislature on every scholarship awarded by a member of their board.

The management board would also post the report on its website for public inspection.

Under Claitor’s proposal, the report would include the name of each scholarship recipient, the name of the board member making the award, whether such scholarship consists of a waiver of tuition or a cash award or both and the annual dollar value of the scholarship.

He said the disclosure is similar to what Tulane University does with legislative scholarships.

Officials of LSU and Southern confirmed that board members award scholarships while officials of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors and the Louisiana Community and Technical College Board said their appointees do not.

“Ours go back to the ’60s,” said Robert Rasmussen, LSU System vice president for system relations.

LSU board members control 20 scholarships each that cover basic tuition at whatever undergraduate campus in the system and the equivalent value to the basic tuition for LSU graduate schools, about $2,900 toward law school, medical school, dental school and the like, Rasmussen said.

The scholarships are good for a year. Those receiving TOPS scholarships are not eligible, he said.

Southern Board member Tony Clayton said board members use money raised from prestige Southern automobile license plate sales to fund scholarships.

Southern University System communications officer Henry Tillman said each board member may recommend students to receive the board’s “Educational Assistance Scholarship” valued at $1,000 each semester.

The board chairman gets five; the vice chairman four; the immediate past board president if he is still a member, three; and two each for other members. Two others are allotted for award by board staff, Tillman said.