A Leadership Crisis

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By Dayne Sherman

Bob Mann, LSU mass communication professor and columnist, is perhaps Louisiana’s most vocal critic of Gov. Bobby Jindal and his disastrous policies. Many people wonder why he has not been Jindalized, fired from his faculty position.


Mann is a personal friend and an inspiration. I would like to call your attention to a pair of articles he wrote over the past year. The first, “Gov. Jindal’s Trained College Presidents,” addressed the ways in which Louisiana university leaders are like lap dogs begging for kibble at the governor’s feet. It was not flattering.


The second article was titled “Seven Proposed Reforms for Louisiana Higher Education,” which argued for the necessity of real leadership among higher ed officials in order for progress to occur in the state. In essence, Mann said higher ed leaders need to develop social power and influence.


On Feb. 3, former president of Southeastern and retired head of the University of Louisiana System, Dr. Randy Moffett, penned a letter to the Hammond, La., Daily Star newspaper calling various people in Louisiana “leaders” and “statesmen.” It, along with Mann’s articles, left me thinking about leadership in Louisiana.


Make no mistake, we do need leaders.


However, Louisiana is not facing a $1.6 billion budget hole next fiscal year because we have “leaders” and “statesmen” in the Legislature and in higher ed. Real leaders would have never allowed this mess to occur in the first place.


Sure, representatives such as John Bel Edwards, Jerome “Dee” Richard, Brett Geymann, and Katrina Jackson have fought hard for Louisiana (I don’t agree with all of their positions but admire their work.). They have been the minority. Mostly, our legislators have stabbed Louisiana and higher ed between the shoulder blades while simultaneously kissing Gov. Jindal’s lower backside.


So, please, let’s call a nutria a nutria.


Louisiana has more universities under censure by the American Association of University Professors than any other state, five campus administrations: Southeastern, Northwestern, Nicholls, LSU, and Southern University in Baton Rouge. Ironically, the first three schools are members of Dr. Moffett’s old University of Louisiana System.


Allowing campuses to be censured shows anything but leadership. Censure is a blight on an institution’s reputation, and it can usually be avoided through honest dialogue, good judgment, and shared governance. Indeed, seeing $700 million cut from higher ed since Jindal was sworn in and witnessing proposed cuts of $200-400 million more next fiscal year is an absolute lack of leadership.


Poor leadership is not confined to Louisiana higher ed. The recent firing of a popular Hammond airport director by freshman Mayor Pete Panepinto appears on its face the thuggish handiwork of a schoolyard bully. It showed poor leadership.


Furthermore, some of the worst trouble we have ever dealt with in Louisiana can be attributed to either literal or de facto nepotism, better known as cronyism. Often times I root for the guy not handpicked by a powerful bureaucrat like former Hammond Mayor Mayson Foster. Recall, it was Gov. Mike Foster, a true dolt, who gave us the little gift of Bobby Jindal.


Louisiana’s political elites rarely know best, and the common people have to fin for themselves.


This is why I am a proud member of the American Association of University Professors. I pay my dues knowing they have my back when our higher ed leaders do not.


Louisiana needs to listen to Bob Mann and comprehend the difference between real leadership and fraudulent leadership. It’s important, and the issue is not going away anytime soon.


Dayne Sherman’s new novel is Zion, a $4.99 ebook. Signed first editions available from the author. And he does not speak for any of his employers.

Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker

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