Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Thursday called on the Oregon State University Board of Trustees to fire President F. King Alexander if its independent review finds he did not uphold his ethical and legal responsibilities to protect students during his time at Louisiana State University.
Additionally, the OSU Faculty Senate Thursday preliminary approved votes of no confidence in Alexander and the board of trustees, calling for their resignations.
The Senate also approved a demand for more funding and staffing for survivor advocacy and violence prevention programs on campus, with an increased focus on Black, Indigenous and people of color and members of the LGBTQ community.
And they want the university’s hiring and appointment practices for high-level positions to be more open and transparent.
The board decided Wednesday after a seven-hour meeting to place Alexander on probation until June 1 for his role in the mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints while at the helm of LSU and the erosion of trust created since.
Alexander was president at LSU from July 2013 to last July 1, a time when outside investigator Husch Blackwell found there was a “serious institutional failure” related to Title IX cases. Issues were detailed in a 148-page report issued to LSU, which the university requested in response to reporting by USA TODAY and released publicly on March 5.
Alexander is now the fifth person to face accountability in connection with the failures at the southern university.
During his probationary period, Alexander must come up with an “action plan” outlining how he will rebuild campus trust. The board said it will then evaluate the plan and receive feedback from the community.
OSU will also hire an outside consultant to review the recommendations of the LSU Husch Blackwell report, as well as answer specific questions about the report and OSU’s own Title IX compliance.
But the board’s sanction fell short of numerous calls for Alexander’s termination.
Brown said the board made this decision — the result of a 12-2 vote — “in light of already troubling findings.” Trustee Michele Longo Eder and Khawater Hussein, the student representative on the board, were the dissenting votes.
Members of the OSU community and a few elected officials drew attention on social media to Wednesday’s hearing, including Brenda Tracy, a survivor of gang rape and an activist from Oregon who testified before the board.
Oregon state Rep. Sara Gelser and Louisiana state Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman both called for Alexander’s immediate termination.
Here is Brown’s statement in full:
In Oregon, we must hold our university presidents to the absolute highest standards for leadership and accountability. Not only are they responsible for leading our academic institutions, but they also have the responsibility to ensure the safety of all students under their care.
It is my expectation that a university president take action when students come forward with allegations of sexual assault, stalking, or other serious criminal acts. The Oregon State University Board has established an independent investigatory and disciplinary process for President Alexander to review the facts and assess the next steps for action. The Board has made its decision in light of already troubling findings.
I support the Board’s independent review process, but if it confirms that President Alexander did not uphold his ethical and legal responsibilities to protect the safety of the students at LSU, I expect the board to take decisive action to remove him.
-Gov. Kate Brown
Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal. She can be reached at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, Twitter @NataliePateGwin, or Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist.
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