‘Business Report’ Publisher: Are we all putting LSU first?

    In his latest column, Publisher Rolfe McCollister weighs in on a controversial blog post by Richard Lipsey, former head of the Board of Regents. McCollister, an LSU graduate, declares, “The university is our flagship and an international brand that is near and dear to most in our state—and alumni worldwide.”  He continues by writing, “LSU is a point of pride, but like any institution, it is not without its challenges or faults” and points out that “the decisions are often not easy to make and people often can disagree. Some believe they could do better calling the shots, like coaching the Tigers on Saturday night in Death Valley. Easier said than done.”

    “Richard Lipsey seems to think that way. He is a successful businessman, an LSU graduate and a friend of mine. But his recent blog online appeared to be a personal attack towards President F. King Alexander and Athletic Director Joe Alleva. This mean-spirited rant seemed out of character for such a distinguished citizen. But thank God we live in America and sharing one’s views is protected.”

    McCollister questions the blog saying, “While Lipsey wants to point at all the negatives at LSU, he didn’t note that LSU has set records for the most graduates, the most incoming freshmen, the highest incoming GPA and other achievements in recent years. He also left out that LSU athletics has more teams ranked in the top 20 than any other university and has achieved the highest graduation rate and GPA for student-athletes in its history. Aren’t these the goals and results you want for LSU? Or is there another agenda here? Is it personal?”

    McCollister raises concerns about the origin of the blog and its intent: “I have since learned from Lipsey that he did have help with his blog. He admits openly that he hired a political consultant, John Mathis of Baton Rouge, to help him with his group, Putting Louisiana First.”

    “In addition to the help with his words, he also confirmed they spent money to boost the opinion shared with ‘some paid promotion of our content with Facebook, Google…’ So it seems this rant is more than just exercising one’s free speech and personal views. It’s an organized campaign.”

    McCollister expresses concern about Mathis, saying, “(H)e has been active in state and national politics. Just Google “John Mathis” with the “Solution Fund,” “Warrior PAC” and “Judge Roy Moore.”

    McCollister looks at recent events and concludes, “Coach Will Wade created this recent firestorm after he was caught on an FBI wiretap and wouldn’t discuss it. That is his right and his choice. He knew the consequences. …But it is also LSU’s duty to protect its 159-year international reputation and brand for the students, faculty, alumni, donors and citizens. You may disagree, but I believe LSU did what it had to do and put the integrity of the university ahead of the athletic competition. It can be painful, but the right choices are not always the easy ones. We are all following this situation closely, as is the rest of the nation.”

    McCollister concludes, “As a publisher, Tiger and former Board of Supervisors member who loves LSU, I understand we will all have our opinions about decisions at LSU and at times must agree to disagree. In this case, I disagree with Lipsey and believe he is not “putting LSU first.”

    In his editorial, McCollister also celebrates the return of KIPP Academy to Baton Rouge, a nationally acclaimed charter school who first applied to come in 2001.  McCollister points the blame for that at Rep. Pat Smith, then on the school board, and he laments the loss of 18 years and all the children who suffered that loss. McCollister credits New Schools for Baton Rouge with getting KIPP back.  He is confident this school board won’t make that same mistake.

    Read the full column here. Send comments to editor@businressreport.com


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