The Board of Supervisors’ decision to let the LSU Foundation pay for the search for our next system president and chancellor makes us awfully suspicious that the Board does not want the public to know how much money LSU is spending on the search.
We thank the LSU Foundation for releasing the fixed fee of $120,000 for the search firm R. William Funk & Associates, but we can’t help but wonder how much more money the foundation is spending under the category of “out-of-pocket expenses.” With the prices of travel and hotel rooms plus whatever else the category includes, it’s likely $120,000 could easily multiply.
Since the contract lies with the LSU Foundation, we may never know the full amount being spent on the search for the next president and chancellor. As a private entity, the LSU Foundation does not have to disclose public records the way the University or the LSU System would if they had conducted the search.
As students, we have a vested interest in knowing who will be the future leader of our university, what the job description is for that person and how much money we’re paying to find him or her. What else does the contract say? What salary is being advertised for the person who comes to our university?
LSU’s former System President John Lombardi, who was fired last April, earned a salary of more than $600,000. Given that his job will be combined with the chancellor’s job, it’s likely the salary for the new head of LSU will exceed $600,000.
Legally, the LSU Foundation does not have to turnover the contract. But for the sake of transparency, the LSU Foundation should release it. We don’t need to know the donors’ names, we don’t need to know who any of the potential candidates for the job are, we just want the process of finding the leader of our university to be public knowledge.
LSU, as a public institution, performs public research and hosts events open to the public. Thus, the public deserves to know what kind of person could be the figurehead of the state’s flagship university and how much money is being spent to find that person.
In the past, we’ve been able to find out how much money we’re spending on search firms because they’ve gone through the University and student money has gone toward conducting the searches. When LSU contracted Greenwood/Asher & Associates to search for Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Stuart Bell, we could report on the nuances of the contract and better inform our readers about the search process.
Turning over the contract is the right decision for the public and for LSU’s students.