One of the more remarkable aspects of F. King Alexander’s ill-fated attempt last month to save his job at Oregon State University was the way he threw LSU under the bus.
Blaming the board, boosters and culture of LSU for his failure to do more about Title IX violations while at the helm of Louisiana’s flagship, however legitimate, made Alexander at once look like a spineless leader and a clueless communicator during his hearing before the OSU Board of Trustees.
But the other thing that was really interesting about the marathon March 17 hearing was to observe the dynamics of the OSU board, which looks and interacts quite differently than LSU’s Board of Supervisors, Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel writes in her new opinion piece.
This is in no small part due to the fact that half of the OSU trustees are women—seven of the 14, to be exact.
That’s more than the total number of women who have served on LSU’s board in the past decade, which has had just six female supervisors altogether since 2010, including current members Mary Werner and Valencia Sarpy Jones.
Now, there will be a seventh. In late March, Gov John Bel Edwards appointed Laurie Lipsey Aronson to replace an outgoing male member so there will actually be three women serving on the board simultaneously. For most of the past 10 years, that has been just one. For a time, there weren’t any.
Think about that. Perhaps it will help contextualize the sordid scandals currently embroiling LSU, which include allegations of sexual violence and misconduct against women by male athletes, an administrator, an AgCenter researcher and a football coach; probes of alleged corruption involving men’s basketball; and complaints of fraternity hazing and underage drinking.
Only in an environment that shrugs off boys-will-be-boys behavior is that kind of conduct normalized. Board members call the shots, and the current mess at LSU belongs squarely at the feet of the mostly men who have been calling the shots for years.
Would things be any better today if more women had been in positions of power at LSU to challenge the status quo? Could they be any worse?
Read Riegel’s full column about the need for gender equity on the LSU Board of Supervisors from the latest edition of Business Report.