A recent audit reveals top officials at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans have engaged in retaliation, favoritism, nepotism and other ethically troubling behaviors. Multiple lawsuits have also brought light to their gender-based discrimination.
In fact, the workplace environment of the Health Sciences Center is apparently so broken that employees feared speaking to auditors at work or using their work email addresses in case of retaliation.
Larry Hollier, who has been chancellor of the Health Sciences Center since 2005, is at the center of many of these findings.
Hollier, in one example, preselected a candidate for Chief of Staff, casting aside the search committee process.
Even worse, “The sole candidate for Chief of Staff, Louis Colletta, was allowed to exert significant influence over the position’s creation, development and advertisement,” the audit concluded.
In another troubling situation, Hollier fought for bloated raises for Keith Schroth, the vice chancellor for administration and finance, whose annual pay now approaches half a million dollars.
But again, it gets worse. Hollier purposely avoided gaining approval from the university president for these raises, even though policy requires it.
Hollier and Schroth also fought for the advancement of Schroth’s son, Jeremy.
Hollier received a memo in September 2020 from Jeremy Schroth’s supervisor, advocating for the Jeremy's receiving a 20% raise. The kicker? Hollier wrote the memo to himself, pretending to be the supervisor.
Lawsuits also reveal troubling patterns in leadership.
Carolyn Johnson, a former secretary who spent over a decade at the university, says a doctor sexually harassed her and hit her rear end at work.
Johnson reported this to her supervisors, who then, in a clear act of retaliation, moved her to work in a bug-filled storage room, Johnson’s lawsuit says.
It is truly heartbreaking the university allowed an employee’s humanity to be disregarded so blatantly. Instead of receiving the support and care she required, Johnson was only subjected to further abuse by the university. Her story says something deeply troubling about the leadership that allowed this to happen.
Female employees have also brought lawsuits concerning gender-based discrimination. One 2019 lawsuit contended two female lawyers were being paid tens of thousands of dollars less than their male peers.
All these findings paint an abysmal picture of the LSU Health Sciences Center. Administrators went to great lengths to enrich certain employees while ignoring the proper treatment of others, especially women.
It’s important to understand how this happened, and the audit provided some insight, saying, “Our review also indicated a general aversion to oversight by the Baton Rouge campus (President and Board of Supervisors) and LSUHSC-NO Administration’s apparent structuring of actions to avoid it.”
It must be a priority of the administration to correct the corruption brought to light by the audit and recent lawsuits. The behavior of these officials does not fit the goal of a fair and ethical university.
The past year has been a damning indictment of various administrators at every corner of the LSU system. Everywhere you look—LSU Health Shreveport, the Ag Center, our own athletic department and Title IX Office and elsewhere—top officials shirk university policy and ethics.
This leaves our community with an uncomfortable question: What about our institution enables these pervasive patterns of corruption?
Claire Sullivan is a 19-year-old coastal environmental science sophomore from Southbury, CT.