lsu shreveport medical school campus

LSU Shreveport medical school campus

Dr. Ghali E. Ghali was reinstated by LSU late Wednesday as chancellor of the university’s medical school in Shreveport.

Ghali had been suspended on April 12, the day before four women at the LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport officially filed federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints against Ghali claiming he had retaliated against them for raising sexual misconduct allegations against top administrators at the medical school.

Ghali released a statement Wednesday night after LSU's decision saying an outside investigation into the allegations has been concluded. "I have been advised that given the results of the investigation my administrative leave has ended and I have been returned to the active chancellor position without restrictions," Ghali wrote on official stationary identifying him as chancellor.

LSU confirmed his statement.

Allison Jones, the attorney for the four women who filed the federal complaints, said Wednesday night: “Something is truly rotten in the State of Louisiana and at LSU. No investigation that was appropriately conducted could reach a conclusion that completely cleared Dr. Ghali of improper conduct. We should all demand immediate release of any investigatory report.”

The action took place hours after one of the women filed a lawsuit in state district court claiming that she was illegally suspended from her job for blowing the whistle on the sexual harassment claims.

Dr. Jennifer Woerner, from whom some students had sought advice on what to do about sexual misconduct incidents, was one of four women who filed complaints against Ghali for allegedly retaliating against whistleblowers trying to bring attention to the claims. “Three medical students came to me in writing about a host of offenses to include: writing pornographic book reports, asking students out for wine, derogatory comments about their looks, and taking photos of young women,” Woerner wrote in her allegations formally filed April 13 with the federal EEOC. She also filed a complaint with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.

LSU System President Tom Galligan on April 12 suspended Ghali as chancellor, but allowed him to continue working and seeing patients at LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport.

On May 21, Woerner was “put on administrative leave pending an investigation into complaints against her,” according to the lawsuit. She wasn’t told the substance of the allegations against her or who had filed them. But Woerner was barred from campus. Staffers and students were told that they needed to contact the administration if Woerner attempted to contact them.

Ghali and another physician took over Woerner’s duties.

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“We believe this is a direct retaliation against Dr. Woerner for her part in speaking out against injustices at the school,” said Jones, Woerner’s attorney. “We are very disappointed that the school has clearly acted in an unlawful and punitive manner.”

“LSU Health Shreveport offers no comment at this time,” Lisa Babin, executive director of Communication and Public Affairs for LSU Health-Shreveport, said in a statement released Wednesday.

The allegations against Ghali, a nationally recognized oral and maxillofacial surgeon, came as LSU came under fire over reports that university administrators had, for years, ignored and covered up the complaints of female students for subjected to sexual misconduct on the Baton Rouge campus. Galligan and the current LSU Board, saying the cover ups took place in the past, enacted sweeping and expensive changes to the way LSU handles sexual harassment complaints. The Louisiana Legislature passed requirements of strict oversight and reporting in the future.

Former LSU football coach Les Miles lost his job at the University of Kansas because of reports, which he denies, of improper conduct with female students. And former LSU President F. King Alexander, who was in charge at the time, resigned under pressure at his new post as head of Oregon State University for his role in the scandal. An associate athletic director filed a $50 million racketeering suit against the school.

Woerner, two physicians and a staffer alleged in the April EEOC filings that 16 medical students had reported being sexually harassed by an administrative faculty member and that the dean of admissions had required good-looking female applicants and students to write book reports on pornographic stories. Both of those accused administrators retired recently, but the LSU Health Sciences Center employees who students went to for help were denied promotions and saw their job duties constricted by Ghali, the women said.

Woerner pointed in her lawsuit to LSU bylaws that give only the Board of Supervisors or the LSU System president the authority to change the work conditions of tenured faculty, as she is.

“It is one of the personnel action matters that cannot be further delegated. This, the President’s authority to appoint and terminate tenured faculty can be exercised by the chancellors, but not by anyone subordinate to a chancellor,” the lawsuit stated, adding that Woerner was suspended by an assistant chancellor. “Dr. Ghali directly benefited from Dr. Woerner being removed from her duties as tenured faculty and placed on administrative leave. Once she was involuntarily relieved of her duties, he took over many of her duties and assigned other to his supporters.”

First Judicial District Court Judge Craig Marcotte, of Shreveport, was assigned the case.

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.

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