Will LSU’s new president speak truth to power?

English: F. King Alexander speaks at the U-Pas...

F. King Alexander (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Robert Mann

So, LSU has a new system president — at least it will, once the Board of Supervisors endorses a search committee’s recommendation.

F. King Alexander is the visionary leader announced as the sole finalist after an executive search firm found the California State-Long Beach president in a search marked mostly by its secrecy.

The public, students, faculty and staff know virtually nothing about their new president, other than what little we’ve learned from reading his impressive speeches online. (He’s on campus this week, meeting with students and faculty, which amounts to conducting the job interview after making the hire.)

We don’t know the names of other potential candidates who were contacted by the search firm. We don’t know what questions potential candidates asked about LSU and Baton Rouge and how those questions were answered. We don’t know the criteria the board used in identifying prospective candidates for the job.

In fact, we have no idea if the search firm or board committee interviewed anyone other than white men.

Was there any attempt to recruit a minority candidate or a female? We have no idea.

Just about every question you could conceive to ask about this search cannot – or will not – be answered by the Board of Supervisors, because everything it did was behind closed doors.

We’re told that secretive searches are necessary to discover great candidates for such jobs, but scores of public universities find their leaders in open searches.

This is not about effectiveness as much as respect – or, really, lack of respect for the public, students and faculty.

In Louisiana, the unwashed are apparently not competent to judge the suitability of King Alexander and the other candidates who were interviewed for the job. The only people competent to assess the qualifications of an LSU president, it seems, are the 16 white males and one black woman (all appointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal) who sit on the board.

Isn’t it surprising that 16 white men, deliberating behind closed doors, hired a white man for the job? Maybe no minorities applied; maybe none are qualified. But how would we know this without an open search?

There’s so much we do not know. And that is precisely the problem.

What we do know is this: In the past year, there’s been a disturbing exodus of top talent from LSU, not to mention the hemorrhaging of top faculty.

Jindal and his board don’t brook dissent in their ranks and have fired or forced out System President John Lombardi, General Counsel Raymond Lamonica and LSU Health System head Fred Cerise.

And then there’s the stampede of senior officials who have left willingly, more or less — Chancellor Mike Martin (forced to “resign” by Jindal and his board for his dissent), Vice Provost Katrice Albert, Vice Chancellor and CFO Eric Monday, Business School Dean Eli Jones, and Dean of the College of Science Kevin Carman.

Jindal and his board didn’t fire all of these individuals. But he has pushed out or chased off enough top LSU officials to cause one to ask why anyone who is as dynamic, innovative and independent as Alexander would want his new job.

If he speaks truth to power, it’s clear he won’t be here for long.

If he doesn’t assert his independence or if he refrains from speaking inconvenient truths, then I’m sure the LSU board and Jindal’s aides will love him.

But will he be of any use to LSU and its students?

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10 Responses to Will LSU’s new president speak truth to power?

  1. Judith says:

    King Alexander? Will he rule like a king? Inquiring minds want to know, but his subservient have no right to ask questions.

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  2. chrisshows61 says:

    “Jindal and his board did fire all of these individuals.” I suspect there’s a typo here, and it was intended to read “didn’t fire.”

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  3. Fredster says:

    And of course Howard, this is an opinion blog of Bob’s and that being said he’s free to express his own opinion as he sees fit.

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    • Fredster says:

      No Howard, the thing is you don’t like the opinions that Bob has so you want to hold him to your supposed standards that you think he has to follow. This is a personal blog, not the Times. And it is your opinion that he is not following the standards for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Bob has no requirement to follow what you think he should.

      Oh and I forgot the first rule of blogs: don’t feed the trolls. 😉

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    • Fredster says:

      Howard said:

      I don’t like what he’s doing in Louisiana. If you notice, I also applauded the Faculty Senate’s “no confidence” vote of the Board of Sups, and as a former adviisor to the Daily Reveille, I have offered my assistance to challenge the search committee’s secretive method of selecting Alexander

      snip

      (he’s been recognized by the Washington Post)

      No Howard, I did not see that you applauded the Faculty Senate’s no confidence vote. And fwiw, I was one of the folks who nominated Bob’s blog to Ciliza’s list, along with Louisiana Voice.

      I called you a troll because the only comments I’ve seen by you have been totally negative in content regarding this blog. If you have written something positive then I’ve missed it and I will apologize.

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  4. Fredster says:

    This was too funny.

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  5. S. LeJeune says:

    Let’s no be so quick to call him “King” before we see how he performs. After all, he didn’t create the conditions under which he was hired. LSU did.

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  6. Pingback: Despite what LSU officials say, open presidential searches aren’t rare at all | Something Like the Truth

  7. Pingback: Oh, the shame and humiliation of applying for the LSU president’s job! | Something Like the Truth

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