The LSU Foundation is paying for R. William Funk and Associates to conduct the search for a permanent LSU System president and chancellor, rendering the contract and its financing unavailable to the public.
The only information the foundation provided is a contract summary, which outlines the parties, compensation and scope of the firm’s work.
Compensation for the search includes a fixed fee of $120,000 and out-of-pocket expenses, which Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications Herb Vincent, described in an email as “miscellaneous expenses incurred during the search,” such as transportation and hotel charges.
The Board of Supervisors decided to fund the search through the foundation, said Interim LSU System President and Chancellor William “Bill” Jenkins.
Foundation money is being used instead of public money because it allows the search firm to avoid the financial restrictions that would exist if the contract had been the property of the LSU System, which is a public entity, according to Vincent.
“Considering the budgetary limitations of the System, the Board appreciated the effort of the foundation to fund this search,” Vincent said.
The cost of a search depends on the scope of work it involves, Vincent said.
“The investment is certainly worth it to attract a candidate that is expected to lead for many years the flagship institution of higher education in very challenging times,” Vincent said.
University administrators said using private funds will attract the best candidates to the position and high-profile candidates want their involvement to be confidential.
The contract summary states the firm will work with the Board of Supervisors to establish a timeline for the search, develop an understanding of the position’s responsibilities and ultimately advertise for the job, compiling information and communicating with the Board throughout the process.
Vincent said although privacy is a concern for the type of high-profile candidates that the search will attract, the foundation’s contract only involves the foundation and the search firm.
Releasing the contract to the public is at the discretion of the foundation, which has the authority to keep its records private, Vincent said.
“The contract was done before the search began,” Vincent said. “It wouldn’t have anything to do with candidates’ names. Names aren’t on the contract.”
Sara Crow, LSU Foundation ‘s Director of Communications, said private contract information is not shared with the public out of respect for the foundation’s donors.
“It’s not about keeping information from anyone,” Crow said. “Certainly we can understand why students would be interested; that’s why we were happy to take out the key points and put them in the summary. That’s not something we have to do.”