9/18/20 Provost Interview

LSU's Provost, Dr. Stacia Haynie, sits in her office on Friday, Sep. 18, 2020 at Thomas Boyd Hall.

President Tate has announced his first major personnel rearrangement. He has demoted Provost Stacia Haynie. This comes roughly a month after the Baton Rouge Business Report ran a story detailing her efforts to increase the number of women in upper leadership at the university. She was working on improving the lack of female representation across the university.

Tate has been on the job for less than a week, and the optics of firing the highest-ranking female on campus as his first decision are not good. Especially in a campus environment where women have no reason to trust the university.

The lack of female representation is apparent not only in the university administration, but also the university’s Board of Supervisors. Until recently there were only two women on the 16-member board that governs the university.

During the 2021 Legislative Session, the legislature passed HCR-20, a resolution urging the governor to appoint additional women so that these governing boards comprise at least 50% women. LSU’s Board of Supervisors is currently 25% women with four out of the 16 seats belonging to female members.

Gov. John Bel Edwards controls 15 of 16 appointments to the board, with one reserved for a student selected by a committee of LSU student body presidents, which selected Monica Aguilera, the student body president at the Louisiana State University-Alexandria as their representative.

Edwards, under intense pressure during the ongoing and ever-expanding Title IX scandal appointed Laurie Lipsey Aronson to the board. She is a well-connected university benefactor and gun store CEO. Her father is a longtime opponent of former university President F. King Alexander, the president who presided over the national search that led to the hiring of newly demoted Provost Haynie. F. King Alexander detailed the backroom inner-workings of the Board of Supervisors in an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education. Alexander describes an athletics-obsessed board that made decisions behind his back, namely, to fire Athletic Director Joe Alleva and to replace him with their chosen successor, Scott Woodward.

The backroom dealings did not stop there. Board Chair Robert Dampf reportedly remarked to fellow board member James Williams, “we need to get this guy,” in reference to Tate at a post-game dinner at the Governor’s Mansion where the three met. Tate was not one of the original eight finalists elected by the university. There was, however, one woman.

The former provost at the University of Maryland-College Park, Mary Ann Rankin, was the only woman selected to be a finalist for the LSU President Position, however she withdrew her name from consideration before she could be interviewed and was replaced by a late applicant.

William Tate IV was that applicant. Dampf did say, “we need to get this guy,” months before after all.

The demotion of Haynie will surely prompt her to begin exploring options at other universities and contribute to Louisiana’s perpetual brain drain. At a time where women do not feel like they belong at the university, this is the wrong decision.

At the very least, we the students deserve an explanation for the dismissal of Provost Haynie.

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