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LSU board repeats vote on contentious job merger

Last Modified: Friday, December 07, 2012 8:23 PM

BATON ROUGE (AP) — LSU's governing board on Friday again approved plans to merge the jobs of university system president and flagship campus chancellor, refusing requests by faculty to slow reorganization efforts and postpone the merger.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously backed the idea in its second vote on the issue.

The latest vote was designed to address concerns from the attorney general's office that the board's October decision violated the state's open meetings law because the public wasn't properly notified that a vote would be taken.

"In the spirit of being very clear about our commitment to transforming and moving LSU forward, and also in the spirit of removing any doubt about our commitment in the way that this is handled, we would offer a resolution again," board chairman Hank Danos said, introducing the new vote.

Also, the language of the resolution was changed to respond to questions raised by the Georgia-based accrediting agency that reviews the LSU campuses.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, has said a merger needs its approval and has sought more details about university plans. The new resolution spelled out that a merger would be done in accordance with accreditation requirements.

The job consolidation is part of a planned, but still undetermined, revamp of the university system, which includes medical schools, a law school, an agricultural center and several smaller campuses in addition to the Baton Rouge flagship campus.

Board members ignored the request of the LSU Faculty Senate, which passed a resolution asking for a suspension of consolidation plans until university faculty and staff could evaluate the idea and offer their recommendations for reorganization.

"We're not adverse to change. We're just used to being very slow and deliberative about it," said Ken McMillin, vice president of the Faculty Senate.

Members of the Board of Supervisors said they had sought advice from consultants and university leaders in other states about the wisdom of a job merger. They defended their deliberations as well-reasoned.

A search already has started for a new leader to take the merged job of LSU president.

Danos said the reorganization will help make LSU more competitive and improve its national rankings in higher education reviews.

The president of the LSU Faculty Senate, Kevin Cope, has filed a complaint with the SACS Commission on Colleges, saying the decision-making about the reorganization has been too secretive and appears rife with political meddling by the governor.

William Jenkins is currently working as both interim system president and interim chancellor of the main campus. He pledged Friday that reorganization discussions will be inclusive and have strong input from the faculty and staff who work on the campuses.

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