- Associated Press - Saturday, February 8, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Southern University Board of Supervisors has voted to not renew the contract of Chancellor James Llorens, who has led the Baton Rouge campus for three years.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1lcX5h1 ) that the 9-6 vote means Llorens‘ last day leading Southern’s flagship campus will be June 30. Llorens took the top job in July 2011. He received a $270,000 annual pay package.

The chancellor’s job status came down to a recommendation from Southern System President Ronald Mason, who endorsed keeping Llorens for an additional year.

But Mason’s recommendation came with the caveat that Llorens work with the system office to assess how the Baton Rouge campus is being run and furthermore help the president come up with a plan to make “necessary financial and organizational changes.”

The board rejected Mason’s plan and chose to cut ties with Llorens when his contract ends.

Llorens said he made it clear to the board during an hour-long, closed-door session that he could not agree to the terms the system president laid out.

Agreeing to the president’s terms would’ve stripped him of his power, Llorens said, essentially giving the system office more authority to handle some of the day-to-day operations involved in running a campus.

“The recommendation from the president contained provisions I’m not willing to accept,” Llorens said. The president’s recommendation “would give him the authority to come to campus, meet with staff and make decisions. I told (the board) I would rather not be usurped.”

Mason countered that he wasn’t trying to take control of the Baton Rouge campus, but rather, work more closely with the university’s leadership.

“This was not about usurping,” Mason said. “I think the majority of the board felt that, as president, I have the authority to help and come up with solutions.”

A regional accrediting agency placed Southern on probation in December 2012 for what was described as insufficient data reporting that would have shown Southern was in compliance with a number of different academic standards. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College lifted the probation June 2013 after the university provided the necessary paperwork.

In June 2013, a national organization of professors voted to censure Southern for its handling of a top-down restructuring of colleges and academic programs. It was part of a cost-cutting process undertaken after the university had declared a financial emergency.


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