I would like to echo and reinforce the broader call for transparency by editor Mark Ballard that relates to LSU President and Chancellor King Alexander’s comments on university costs (Capitol Buzz, Sept 28).
Dr. Alexander correctly holds up the lower costs of public universities (“better value for money”) than prestigious private ones. But a subtext of his on public versus private should apply more generally to boards of higher education and how they operate with secret searches, expensive airport interviews of “non-candidates” as documented in the above commentary and enormous payouts to consultants behind whom they hide, claiming exemption from public disclosure laws (Far from acknowledging a mistake, LSU spent even more on a court battle it lost). The values that may apply in their private businesses should not govern supervisors and regents when they wear their public hats.
Boards and LSU administrators played along with an irresponsible governor and legislature in signing bills with blank pages to privatize LSU hospitals. This flouted laws and norms, not just transparency. Not surprisingly, these decisions seem to have been disastrous, ill thought out if not corrupt.
Calling for transparency requires consistency, especially from those who speak for “higher” education. Hypocrisy cannot be the other side of the coin without tainting the currency. Public servants, with an emphasis on both words, should behave so as to be credible in upholding civic virtue. The same high standards we set for our students and faculty should be demanded of our administrators, boards and the person who sits atop them, our governor.