This letter comes to comment on your report (The Advocate, July 26, Page 1A) on the town hall meeting held by Ronald Mason, president of the Southern University System.
I would like to begin by correcting a statement I made. While this correction is minor, the connotation of my misstatement is profound. Indeed, it could be used by some to malign tenured faculty in order to appear competent and qualified by implication.
The report attributed to me a quote stating, “We are not about to accept a wholesale firing of tenured faculty in the name of efficiency.” Considering that others had questions, I was talking rapidly and hence could misspeak. I meant to make the quoted statement with “tenured faculty” replaced with “employees without tenure.” Tenured faculty members have recourse in cases of unjustified dismissals.
For context, your readers need to know that, at the instigation of the vice president for information technology, Tony Moore, termination letters were sent to all employees (more than 20) of the Office of Technology and Network Services at Southern University, Baton Rouge. These letters were sent in early June, with an effective end of employment on June 30. The dismissal letters indicated that these employees could apply for some fewer positions.
Moore and the occupant of a new office of chief information officer conducted the rehiring interviews. What this action did was to have the rehired employees have their allegiance to the president, Moore and the CIO to whom they report in substance, as opposed to Southern University-Baton Rouge.
It has also made room for patronage hiring of new employees whose allegiance is to the system. In a responsible organization, instead of power-trip firings, one utilizes valid and reliable evaluations to reduce a workforce, if there is a need to do so. The new CIO has a yearly salary more than $100,000! Former Chancellor Kofi Lomotey held a meeting with Moore and the IT personnel, including this writer, to state that Moore would have authority over all IT issues and personnel on the Baton Rouge campus.
The current town hall meetings are to inform people of what has already been implemented, despite the appearance of a planning process for something to come. Indeed, the personnel, business and finance operations on the SU campuses, like information technology, have already been taken over by the system!
This takeover places the budgets of the campuses under the total control of the system. This situation permits President Mason to circumvent the legislative restrictions on system office budgets, as compared with those of campuses. Further, the above firings at TNS also place the SUBR student technology-fee funds at the disposal of the SU System.
Diola Bagayoko, Ph .D.
SU System distinguished professor of physics