BR.govcorona.033121 TS 549.jpg

Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at a press conference updating COVID-19 restrictions March 30 at the State Capitol.

With a sexual misconduct scandal roiling LSU and a group of female state lawmakers demanding accountability, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday that he was appointing two women to positions on the LSU Board of Supervisors and the Board of Regents.

Edwards — who appoints all but a lone student member of the 16-person LSU Board of Supervisors — has been taking heat over the board's handling of allegations that high-ranking LSU officials failed to report and properly investigate allegations of sexual harassment, domestic violence and rape at LSU. Several members of the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children have argued that LSU needs more women in supervisory roles; only two of 16 board members are women.

Now, there are three. Edwards is appointing Laurie Lipsey Aronson to a seat on the board that had been held by former Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation president Ronnie Anderson since 1997. In a news release announcing the appointment, Edwards said Anderson's term had expired.

Aronson is the chairwoman of Lipsey's, the Baton Rouge-based wholesale firearms distributor. She is also the president and chief executive officer of the men’s apparel company Haspel, another business started by her family that is known as the originator of seersucker suits.

Aronson’s father is Richard Lipsey, a former Board of Regents chairman who frequently weighs in on matters involving LSU.

Last week, Lipsey sent out a message through his Put Louisiana First organization calling for LSU to hold a "transparent, nationwide search" for its next president.

Louisiana governors often use appointments to the LSU Board of Supervisors to reward their friends and donors. Edwards recently said he regretted not appointing more women to the board. None of the 16 members of the board, which oversees grants, research, medical schools and more, is an academic.

Anderson said in an interview Wednesday that he’s also worried about the LSU Board of Supervisors losing members who have an agricultural connection, given that the full university’s name ends with “agricultural and mechanical college.”

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

“I know there’s concern about not having enough female representation on the board,” Anderson said. “Agriculture is underrepresented on the board now … It needs to be looked at in the future, since it is a land-grant university for the state, there does need to be more ag influence on there.”

He said that during his time on the board, he’s been particularly proud of the LSU AgCenter for generating new varieties of soybeans, rice and improving varieties of sugarcane. But Anderson also said his board service came with its share of difficulties: when he was first appointed by Gov. Mike Foster, he said LSU was well-funded. Over time, budget cuts meant that LSU struggled to offer pay raises and to improve campus infrastructure as he would have liked, he said.

Anderson also defended LSU’s handling of the response to the report from law firm Husch Blackwell, which probed cases of rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment and more on LSU’s campus going back several years. He said LSU took appropriate action based on the report, including the decision to suspend two high-ranking officials in the LSU Athletic Department, Verge Ausberry and Miriam Segar.

“Really, those are good employees who tried to do the best they could under the circumstances,” Anderson said.

“A lot of this information that’s coming out, you don’t have the whole story with all of it,” he added. “There’s two sides to every story — I think the university and some of the employees there and the board are getting a bad rap.”

The governor also appointed Terrie Sterling to the state's Board of Regents, which oversees all higher education institutions. She replaces former state Sen. Marty Chabert of Houma on the board.

The Board of Regents also has 16 members; none have had a career in academia though they oversee the state’s institutions of higher education. Sterling will be the fourth woman on the board.

Sterling, who now runs her own health care management consulting firm, is the former chief operating officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. She is a registered nurse with a master’s of science in nursing.


Investigative reporting is more essential than ever, which is why we’ve established the Louisiana Investigative Journalism Fund, a non-profit supported by our readers.

To learn more, please click here.