Perhaps because of the large number of great minds involved, elaborate revisions to the regulations for scholarships from the LSU Board of Supervisors have missed an important question: Why should members of the LSU board give out scholarships at all?
We know this notion violates the code of political perks that has at one time or another corrupted every office and every relationship in Louisiana government since colonial beginnings.
The Legislative Auditor’s Office found inconsistencies and other lapses in how the tuition-covering grants were doled out. That set in motion, apparently, a huge process of meetings and paper-shufflings about the program; what it ought to inspire is the question of why board members, pure political appointees of the governor except for one student member, can waive expensive tuition at LSU campuses or at its many professional schools.
Now that the existence of the political scholarships is well known, the board policy is set to limit the scholarships in number — down from 20 to 15. Fifteen!
LSU board members gave out 226 scholarships for the 2013-2014 school year, up nine from the year before. LSU’s scholarship report for the 2012-2013 school year showed the total valued at $1.35 million.
The audit released last June raised concerns over the board’s poor handling of applications, noting that some applicants have gone entirely overlooked. It also concluded that there were no criteria regarding academic excellence, special talent or financial need, nor did the university keep records of such qualities of recipients.
There are presumably, among so many recipients, some who are poor and deserve the financial boost to advance their educations. We would expect that most recipients are friends or family of the politically connected.
Tuition is usually covered at LSU’s main campus by the state’s TOPS tuition waivers but not at professional schools. The most lucrative award was $19,603 waived at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans.
We wonder if the Legislature, no slouch when it comes to perks, should allow in this time of financial austerity a number of tuition waivers purely on the basis of friendship with the governor or extensive political contributions — a route to board appointments in this administration and too many of its predecessors.