Has LSU lost its soul?

LSU Student Union
LSU Student Union (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Robert Mann

So, LSU finally has a new president, but has it lost its soul?

I’m sure President King Alexander is a nice man and a decent leader — although some who know him well would strongly disagree.

But this isn’t about just King Alexander. It’s about a university
community that has allowed a governor to devastate its budget, diminish its reputation and damage its national ranking. It’s about a governor who installed a group of “leaders” — the LSU Board of Supervisors — whose actions demonstrate that they care not a whit about the university, its students, faculty and staff.

It’s about the LSU Alumni Association and other groups supporting the university who have stood by silently — holding their crawfish boils and pep rallies for the football team — while their “beloved” university is slowly being destroyed.

As I discussed in a recent column in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the so-called leaders on the LSU board are slavishly loyal to Gov. Bobby Jindal. It’s his interests and his wishes that clearly remain paramount in their thoughts as they govern (misrule) this institution.

So, King Alexander will only defy his board or Jindal if he finds our climate too hot or our food too spicy. If he wants to keep his job, he will be a dutiful yes man.

And he must know that. He reads the papers like we do. He knows well the price of dissent in Jindal’s Louisiana.

(Actually, Alexander probably knows that in the next six months or so he actually has a window of great power, if he should choose to use it. The board and Jindal might eventually fire Alexander for any apostasy, but they wouldn’t dare do it now. If Alexander has any backbone — which is doubtful — we’ll see it soon.)

But more important than his character or courage is the rotten, illegal process that produced his hiring.

It was all accomplished in secret, in clear violation of the state’s Open Records Law. Students and faculty only met Alexander after the decision to hire him had been made. Alexander himself said he wouldn’t have sought the job in an open search, which is revealing. Don’t expect him to champion the public’s right to know.

Here’s the thing about a rotten, illegal process: it usually produces rotten results.

The LSU Faculty Senate has already approved a resolution of no confidence in the LSU board, based upon its secretive selection process. Alexander may be swell, but he’s the fruit of a rotten tree.

The damage to LSU’s soul, if not complete, will be lasting.

Just today, a friend who knows LSU well, told me,

There is no unquestioned, non negotiable compass that guides [LSU’s] course. As a result, it lists and wobbles in the political winds of the moment. Any course is the course. It somehow lacks the collective confidence to stand up to influences, unconcerned about preserving the essence, the soul, of a great university. Ok is almost always ok. The [board] has no LSU soul to embrace and protect, so whatever works, right or wrong, works. There is no core set of values worth the effort of promoting and preserving.

He’s right.

Where is the outrage, the indignation, over what has happened to LSU since Jindal came to power?

You won’t find it on LSU’s campus.

What you will find is either apathy or resignation.

You’d think the employees of an institution who have suffered without pay increases for almost five years might rouse themselves to begin some kind of protest. You’d also think that students — their courses cancelled, their buildings crumbling, their faculty leaving, their tuition rising — would march on the Capitol in protest.

But you’d be wrong.

We’ve lost our soul. Or at least it’s been stolen.

30 thoughts on “Has LSU lost its soul?

  1. It wasn’t our original plan to spend so much time writing about F. King Alexander but what we stumbled into was very hard to ignore. His coming to LSU exposed him. His CV got shown to the public for the first time to counteract the negativity of the secrecy of his hire. That CV began the downfall of the Alexander family. We are beyond shocked at what our team has discovered about King and his family. He has at least one thing in common with Jindal. He believes he is above the law. You’ve got to read THUG to see all that we have found. But hold on to your hats because it going to blow your mind. Can you imagine that they are all a part of the biggest ponzu scheme in academic history? Come read and review the evidence and you be the judge. http://thugthebook.blogspot.com


  2. Bob,

    I am one of those students. The budget cuts led me to transfer to a university in another state (foreign language refugee), where I am now attending grad school. I keep up with all the news from LSU and am always saddened by the way things are going, but also glad that I got out before things got completely out of control. I voted with my feet. While I was at LSU, I don’t recall any students protesting the way things were headed except for a protest from a few foreign language students and faculty. The general mentality from my fellow students at the time was one of apathy and “who cares? we don’t want to learn foreign languages anyway.”


    1. Voting with their feet is generally what the good students, profs, and administrators are doing. Every prof under sixty is looking for a position elsewhere, and every prof over sixty is checking their 401k to see how much longer before they can retire.


      1. It wasn’t our original plan to spend so much time writing about F. King Alexander but what we stumbled into was very hard to ignore. His coming to LSU exposed him. His CV got shown to the public for the first time to counteract the negativity of the secrecy of his hire. That CV began the downfall of the Alexander family. We are beyond shocked at what our team has discovered about King and his family. He has at least one thing in common with Jindal. He believes he is above the law. You’ve got to read THUG to see all that we have found. But hold on to your hats because it going to blow your mind. Can you imagine that they are all a part of the biggest ponzi scheme in academic history? Come read and review the evidence and you be the judge. http://thugthebook.blogspot.com


  3. I think Thugthebook.blogsport.com can’t be trusted because the blog writer is being forced to leave CSULB for what seems like unethical activity that victimized students.


    Let’s question the BOS and the governor. We don’t need to help questionable people push questionable conclusions.


    1. First the THUG writer is still teaching at CSULB as a full tenured professor. But you don’t need to believe what he wrote the documents and evidence are all there for you to review. Have you reviewed the material? Have you read it? Few people really take the time to read and do research. Do yours.


      1. Article says Lane is only teaching through the summer as part of some kind of deal. You seem to know about this guy. Tell me what actually went down about the scholarship money talked about in http://www.presstelegram.com/ci_22622615/cal-state-long-beach-%20professor-who-allegedly-misused .

        I, or any sensible person, won’t believe anything on any personal website until an explanation.

        I’m getting the vibe that you are Lane or someone very close to him. So, let’s hear it.


    2. Yes the author is a whistleblower. Here’s a link to the recommendation written by the Provost now President of CSULB http://www.brianalanlane.com/DON_PARA_CSULB_Recommendation_2013_Brian_Alan_Lane.pdf Now would the Provost write that recommendation for someone that is being forced to leave? Do the research that what we spend our time doing.


      1. I have more faith in the reporting and opinions of bloggers like Bob Mann, Brian Alan Lane, C.B Forgotston, Tom Aswell, and others than in those of newspapers like the Baton Rouge Advocate and Long Beach Press Telegram. With the bloggers at least you know where it’s coming from. With the newspapers, it is covert pressure from the advertisers that determines what is printed. As always, follow the money. Read intelligently. And do your own fact checking.


    3. Wow you believe in the BOS that hired Alexander in complete secrecy agains the law?


      1. No. I only fully believe in what I can corroborate to my satisfaction. An old saying comes to mind as I read through the blog and articles about Lane: Two wrongs don’t make a right. There’s enough conflicting information out there that makes it seem like truth is not the goal.


      2. Lane has been at CSULB since Fall 2002. In the College of The Arts there, as a professor, Lane has been the biggest donor of his own money and biggest fundraiser of Hollywood money for scholarships. He has never been accused of taking any money — he gives money. The school has at all times written recommendations which make it clear that Lane’s service on budget matters was commendable, and in fact he received promotions and awards for this service as well as his scholarship and teaching. The local press misstated something they heard orally from an Alexander spokesperson. In the same way that The Advocate says that Alexander played basketball for Wisconsin — a total untruth — reporters have turned into repeaters. Do your own research on Lane. His credits and accomplishments at CSULB are recounted in more than a dozen different press reports over the years. Start with the CSULB publications themselves — Inside CSULB, The Beach Review, others. Then you will know the truth. Or, if you want to continue to show your bias, continue to be a repeater rather than a reader, researcher, reporter. In that case, we’ll know just how much credence to give your comments.


      3. I have done my own research, for Lane’s accusations were interesting at first blush. However, there was nothing concrete about criminal acitvity. There was only innuendo and a seemingly lack of knowledge common contract law and procedure.

        http://google.calstate.edu/search?site=csulb&q=brian%20alan%20lane&submit.x=0&submit.y=0&client=csulb-edu&proxystylesheet=csulb-edu&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&ip= … There’s nothing there beyond typical releases and such generated by any faculty member, anywhere.

        He can have achievements, but that doesn’t explain why an innocent man would make a deal that ends his employment. That, epoa, is something that has to be explained.

        The tap dance you are doing is quite telling. As I said earlier, we here in Louisiana have plenty to be concerned about regarding higher education. We don’t need any extra motivation from unfounded assertions. Take your carpet-bagging ways elsewhere.


  4. And here’s another article that explains some of the whistleblowing that Professor Lane was doing at CSULB. Please read the story. It’s all there in black and white. Long Beach papers are controlled by the school just like the Advocate where you are. They pulled all the negative comments about King down after they published their article on sunday. http://www.thugthebook.com/The-Long-Beach-Union-Weekly-Verifies-Thug-The-Book.html


    1. Let’s see something from an independent website, not something run by Lane himself.


      1. You mean from another independent whistleblower who has been or will be smeared by the powers that be? How soon y’all have forgotten the lesson of Ivor van Heerden. Or do you mean an independent newspaper that is not controlled (LOL) by its advertisers? In the end a court will decide truth and punishment based on evidence and law. The only thing that’s certain is that the taxpayers of Louisiana are going to pay the bills. This lack of transparency and democracy seems to have infected every single branch of state government and they are all finding themselves in court time and again over school vouchers, hospital contracts, secretive searches, etc.


      2. Refer to the above reply and research in CSULB publications. You’ll plenty.


      3. I repeat: I mean a source besides a website that Lane runs. That’s not hard to understand. And, it would be great if the website had a record or credibility.

        A tag team…But, you both are dodging the question. 2 x 0 = 0.

        Y’all are just going to appeal to a partial audience until someone steps up to explain why a supposedly-innocent guy made a deal. And, I and a lot of open-minded people won’t adhere to anything y’all have to say.

        There’s plenty to question Jindal and the BOS about. I don’t need unsubstantiated drivel to do that.

        Prove me wrong.


      4. The answer are on the blog. The first chapter explains it all. http://thugthebook.blogspot.com/2013/03/first-installment.html
        And if you think Whistleblowers are liked, admired and tare given Champagne reception by the people they out, think again.


      5. That’s a website run by Lane. Already looked at it. Nothing concrete. I challenged you to provide something else. Please do that. This is getting a little tiresome.


    2. oops typos above
      The answer is on the blog. The first chapter explains it all. http://thugthebook.blogspot.com/2013/03/first-installment.html
      And if you think Whistleblowers are liked, admired and are given Champagne receptions by the people they out, think again.


      1. You have nothing from a website that Lane does not run? If not, I and others are not interested.


  5. Here are some things “from websites that Lane does not run”. What do you think of them?

    First, from The Advocate
    LSU’s new leader: Earning Respect (http://theadvocate.com/news/education/6191543-123/lsus-new-leader-earning-respect)
    Capitol news bureau
    June 25, 2013

    “Alexander later took the same idea and turned it into Project Greenlight in Long Beach, where student advisers actively tracked students who started drifting away from school and helped convince them to return. ‘We clearly knew what we had to do with Project Greenlight,’ Alexander said. ‘We saved almost 600 students in the last seven years who would’ve been college dropouts, who are now college graduates’.”

    “2006-June 2013 — President of California State University Long Beach in California”.

    Second, from the Cal State Long Beach publication called Inside CSULB.
    ‘Graduation Green Light’ Helps Former Students Earn Degrees
    By Anne Ambrose
    Inside CSULB
    Vol 57 No. 11 : June 2, 2005

    “Thus, the Graduation Green Light Project was born. ‘It was originally set up as a pilot program designed to increase the undergraduate graduation rate essentially by reaching out to seniors who had filed for graduation, but for whatever reason, didn’t,’ said Susan Black, assistant director of CSULB’s Academic Advising Center. In 2003, she and center director Marilee Samuelson decided to see how they could help. They contacted Enrollment Services, and with a start-up grant from the CSULB Alumni Association to help pay for student assistants, they compiled a list of students who had failed to graduate a year after filing. Although commencement is once a year, graduation can occur at the end of fall, spring or summer terms.
    Since its inception, the project has contacted 472 students”.

    Note that the Inside CSULB story on Greenlight dates to June 2005 and is reporting on a program first implemented in 2003.

    Note that Alexander, according to the Advocate started at CSULB in 2006 and created the Greenlight Project, somehow, while President of Murray State.

    I don’t claim to know what those conflicting claims and reports mean. It could just be incompetent reporting by the Advocate — hardly a shock. If that is the case, they have embarrassed the new LSU president and, one would think, should apologize, go through that entire article, fact check it, and then run a long correction and apology to its readers and President Alexander for journalistic malpractice.


  6. Michael H. Woods June 27, 2013 — 10:10 am

    Bob- with all due respect, the LSUAA has not been silent in this matter. I appeared before the BOS last year representing the Alumni Association and complained about their lack of inclusion of all groups in the search process. In addition, I wrote a letter to Dr. Jenkins with my concerns, and actually testified last year before the House Higher Ed committee in an attempt to clarify the affiliation agreement with all LSU entities, and also try to get LSUS out of the LSU system. I agree with you that the BOS are simply fetch and tote boys for the Gov., and am sick of what is happening to all of higher ed here in Louisiana. As a former member of the ULSystem, I never had any attempt of influence from the 4th floor from either Gov. Blanco or Foster, and it sickens me to see what Jindal is doing to all of our schools.


    1. I know there are a number of brave souls like you who have been fighting and we appreciate it. You, however, should have an army behind you. Not a scouting party. Thanks for what you are doing. Keep up the fight!!!


      1. There are more than a few who have been fighting for the same vision of LSU as you are, and you do not help your cause by failing to acknowledge them. I will, including the many students and faculty who staged demonstrations when the cuts first began, those who organized a union called LSUnited when they saw this was a long-term fight, the Faculty Senate, their President, and the senate newsletter’s condemnations of the destruction, the former Provost in a speech to the Press Club, and others who should themselves comment on your post to add to the list. As John Lombardi pointed out before he was fired, though, you get what you pay for. The budget cuts have resulted in the loss of many of the faculty, students, and administrators most able and willing to speak out, as they have accepted reality and moved on the employers willing to pay much more than LSU paid them. They have been replaced with administrators who implement the agenda to de-fund LSU and turn it into a minor, non-research, totally undergrad focused university without saying anything — from the Deans through the new Provost, who is notable for keeping his head down so low none of use can even remember his name. The faculty have been replaced with Assistant Professors who are busy looking for their next position while they keep quiet for fear of being fired before they find it. And the senior students are graduating, being replaced by freshmen who come because the like the Board of Supervisor’s Business-and-Football Model of a university. And you are probably right about the new President-Chancellor, just on the basis of his record at Cal State Long Beach. His parting gift to them was to eliminate their highly regarded Africana Studies Department. Time will tell, of course, but remember what Lombardi said — “You get what you pay for.”


      2. You are correct. Some have spoken out. I didn’t say no one has ever fought for the school, as you suggest. I noted the Senate in the piece, in fact. Protests, modest as they were, were years ago. Relatively speaking, our throats are being cut and we are quiet as lambs. That’s just a fact. I should have noted also that BR-area legislators have done almost nothing to protect LSU.


  7. I admit you are right. But let’s look at why we are going like lambs to the slaughter, why we find so little protest on campus. All of our most competent and fearless administrators have been silenced, among them Cerise and Lombardi, and replaced with compliant types. A less direct strategy has been to force many of our senior faculty to accept positions elsewhere by refusing to make counter offers to retain them, instead replacing them with vulnerable and easily silenced Assistant Professors. Even more ingenious, funding has been shifted from direct support for the university to TOPS at the same time that the LaGrad Act makes it imperative to enroll and graduate as many undergrads as possible in order to gain access to that increased TOPS funding through tuition increases. That encourages Deans to pressure faculty to decrease standards and keep quiet about it, while the majority of undergrads celebrate an ever easier free ride to a degree. There sure is a resounding lack of protest on campus, but only because so many have been silenced. I expect that if the Reveille keeps up its criticism, it will be disciplined as well.


    1. I think we’re on the same page, but that post had a different emphasis than earlier ones. Not sure if you’ve been reading my blog for long, but I’ve been writing for quite a while about Fred Cerise and Mike Martin, et al, and they deplorable way they were treated for standing up for LSU. A group of students in my class in 2008 created SOS (Save Our School) and staged some creative protests about the budget cuts. And I’ve also noted numerous times the Reveille and its activism.

      I’m really talking about the broader LSU community. Despite what some say, the Alumni Association has been AWOL in this fight.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment and for reading. And for caring passionately about LSU.


      1. And thank you for this blog. I wish I had your guts, but even though I have been tenured at LSU a long time I do not. People in power can do all sorts of things to discipline and silence their critics. The only recourse is the courts. If one goes the civil route, after much stress and agony one might get a settlement, like Ivor von Heerden did. But Ivor is gone and silenced while the people that got rid of him are still here and got the taxpayers of Louisiana to pay several million dollars to the lawyers to clean up the mess. Or one can go the criminal charges route, like Brian Alan Lane at Cal State is attempting to do now against what he calls the Alexander crime family. If he gather enough evidence to prove his allegations and open an official criminal investigation, it could force the BoS to resign in disgrace. But who would replace them and would it change LSU’s predicament. Just look at the hospitals: Greenstein and CNSI are under investigation by the g-men, he has resigned, CNSI is suing, and the hospital sell off continues full steam ahead. As one of my other favorite bloggers says: “They are like cockroaches”.


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