By Robert Mann
So, LSU finally has a new president, but has it lost its soul?
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.
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.
But you’d be wrong.
We’ve lost our soul. Or at least it’s been stolen.
- The most powerful man in Louisiana and the power he wasted (bobmannblog.com)
- They can’t handle the truth: Why the LSU Board won’t let Fred Cerise testify before the Legislature (bobmannblog.com)
- Jindal gets what he wants from the LSU Board of Supervisors (bobmannblog.com)
- How low can we go? Louisiana higher education leaders decry deep budget cuts (bobmannblog.com)
- Records in LSU presidential search not released (sfgate.com)