Editorial: Attrition rate of university officials in Louisiana troubling

The attrition rate for university officials in Louisiana may be cause for alarm.

Here’s the question: Can the changes be chalked up to a set of unrelated circumstances, or is there a larger issue?

Regardless of the reasons, there’s been a high turnover rate.

LSU has been particularly affected as university officials have butted heads with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.

Among the casualties:

LSU System President John Lombardi, who was fired after complaining about state budget cuts to the university.

LSU Chancellor Michael Martin, who resigned to become chancellor at Colorado State University — at best a lateral move.

LSU Vice President Fred Cerise, head of the university’s health services and medical education, was replaced after questioning

reforms to the state’s public health care system.

LSU Health Care Services Division CEO Roxane Townsend, who suffered a similar fate as Cerise.

LSU System General Counsel Ray Lemonica, who resigned in September.

But the job changes have been felt outside Baton Rouge as well:

Louisiana Tech President Dan Reneau, who announced he would retire next year after leading the university for 26 years.

University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett, who announced earlier this year that he was stepping down.

LSU-Alexandria Chancellor David Martin, who announced he was leaving the college to become president of Drury University

in Springfield, Mo.

Some of the higher-ups have moved on without comment. Others, though, have spoken up as they prepared to walk out the door.

Martin complained about higher education budget cuts that have amounted to more than $425 million over the past few years.

‘‘Our ability to invest in ourselves just seems to continue to be hindered by policy and actions,’’ he said.

Moffett, who along with Reneau is

one of the most respected men in the state’s higher education field,

advised that universities

in the state need more freedom to raise tuition. He also said

higher education funding in Louisiana needs constitutional protection

and the popular TOPS tuition program needs changes.

Are all of these departures a matter of coincidence? Are the complaints a matter of sour grapes or sage advice to be considered?

That’s yet to be determined, but there seems to be plenty of smoke here, which causes one to wonder about the source of the

accompanying fire.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,

Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.