Embattled Oregon State University President F. King Alexander was not truthful in his testimony to school leaders deciding his fate last week, the chairman of the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors said in a letter sent to the OSU Board of Trustees on Monday.
Alexander misled OSU about his willingness to be interviewed for an investigation into LSU’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations under his watch, wrote LSU Board Chairman Robert Dampf. In addition, Dampf wrote, Alexander’s comments to the OSU Board about his role in the scandal were “arrogant and condescending.”
Alexander was president of LSU from 2013 to 2019. He began his tenure at Oregon State University in 2020.
“I feel confident that I speak on behalf of my university, but also for my state, in saying that I am beyond offended by Dr. Alexander’s arrogant and condescending comments about Louisiana’s culture, our state and our university,” Dampf wrote. “When sharing his opinion that Louisiana has a different moral standard than Oregon, he omits the fact that he enthusiastically counted himself as one of us for almost eleven years.”
The letter comes one day before another OSU Board of Trustees meeting to further discuss Alexander’s fate. The board first met last Wednesday to discuss revelations that LSU systematically mishandled sexual misconduct complaints during Alexander’s time as head of the university. After a nearly seven-hour meeting, trustees voted to put him on probation rather than fire him.
Alexander told the board last week that the law firm Husch Blackwell never interviewed him for its investigation into LSU’s handling of sexual misconduct and dating violence, which finished in March and focused on systemic failures that occurred on Alexander’s watch.
LSU hired Husch Blackwell to conduct the investigation in response to investigative reporting by USA TODAY.
Dampf pointed out that Husch Blackwell asked to interview Alexander twice. Oregon State’s general counsel, however, responded on Alexander’s behalf and said he would only take written questions.
“In the pursuit of truth, Husch Blackwell diligently collected information amounting to 2,500 documents totaling 75,000 pages and more than 60 interviews with LSU employees plus 27 community outreach interview sessions with 10 participants per session,” Dampf wrote. “But they had only one and a half pages of responses from Dr. Alexander.”
While placing Alexander on probation, the OSU Board also said it would conduct an additional review into his role in the scandal. Alexander told the Board during a public hearing on Wednesday that he was not responsible for the problems at LSU, blaming budget cuts and suggesting that Louisiana citizens weren’t as concerned as they should have been about campus safety.
That struck a nerve with Dampf.
“I think it’s a fair assessment to say that most Louisianans are, at their core, very similar to most Oregonians,” Dampf wrote. “They look to us for the type of leadership necessary to make our campuses safe and effective educational environments. From Dr. Alexander’s remarks, his contempt for those hard-working people was evident enough to make me question his commitment to those we serve.”
Alexander also claimed at last week’s hearing that he had built LSU’s Title IX office from nothing to having seven Title IX coordinators, one for each LSU campus. And he took credit for shutting down a problematic fraternity due to Title IX violations.
Dampf noted in his letter, however, that the Title IX coordinators were hired before Alexander’s arrival in 2013, and the fraternity was shut down because a pledge died during a hazing ritual, not because of Title IX issues.
Alexander’s refusal to take responsibility for what occurred at LSU has caused outrage at Oregon State, with the Faculty Senate issuing a vote of no confidence last week. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has also expressed her displeasure.
The Women’s Caucus of the Louisiana legislature also leveled criticisms at Alexander in a statement to the OSU Board, saying it has “no confidence that he will protect your students, because he chose not to protect ours.”
Dampf echoed the sentiment.
“Perhaps in the past, an administrator or coach could leave a university and feel comfortable in the knowledge that any mistakes at a prior university would remain there in secret,” Dampf wrote in his letter. “… We are all participating in a reckoning that demonstrates administrators can not leave their universities as a means to avoid responsibility.”
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