BATON ROUGE, La. — Southern University System President Ronald Mason Jr. won’t seek or accept an extension of his contract when it expires next year, unless certain terms he has outlined are met.
The Advocate reports that the Southern Board of Supervisors will meet Saturday, and the extension of Mason’s contract, which expires June, 30, 2015, is on the meeting’s agenda.
“Absent the terms stated in my letter to you on June 27, 2014, copied to the entire Board, I do not seek, nor will I accept, appointment to the presidency of Southern beyond June 30, 2015,” Mason wrote in a letter to the board dated Aug. 18. The letter was circulated this week by leaders of the Southern University Faculty Senate — frequent critics of Mason.
In an email to The Advocate, Mason said Wednesday that the letter is part of an ongoing conversation with the board and a reminder. “I was reminding the board that there were certain conditions that would have to be met for me to accept a reappointment, if offered,” Mason wrote.
The terms outlined in the June letter include the board agreeing to a strategic agenda to make Southern University’s Baton Rouge campus a top five historically Black university and top 200 public universities nationally within seven years. Mason wants the ability to hire a team of employees and consultants as he deems necessary to reach that goal.
“I will be allowed, within available resources, to bring together a team of employees and consultants, organized as I deem necessary, to do the work,” Mason wrote.
Mason has pushed for the consolidation of the president and chancellor roles at Southern University, much like LSU’s recent merger of the positions. Mason wrote he would be willing to serve in a new dual administrative role, but only for three years — no fewer, no more — in the June 27 letter.
Former Chancellor James Llorens’ contract expired at the end of June, and the Southern System board recently named longtime finance administrator Flandus McClinton Jr. to serve as interim chancellor.
If Mason’s contract isn’t extended — either solely as president or in a new dual role — the contract stipulates that he’ll still have a job at the school as a tenured full-time professor at the Southern University Law Center, with a salary calculated as the average of the three highest-paid professors at the law school starting fall 2015.