Southern University Chancellor Fires Congressman’s Wife
BATON ROUGE, La.
Southern University at New Orleans Chancellor Joseph Bouie won a major battle in his bid to fire the wife of U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D.-La., and three other administrators. But allegations made by ousted SUNO Vice Chancellor Andrea Jefferson could wind up costing Bouie his job too.
In a special meeting Dec. 13, the Southern University Board of Supervisors upheld Bouie’s right to fire Jefferson. But the board also launched an investigation into Jefferson’s allegations against Bouie that include financial mismanagement, sexual harassment and enrollment padding.
Board member Tony Clayton’s motion called for SU System President Leon Tarver to conclude the probe by February and to “make a recommendation whether or not we’re going to put him (Bouie) on probation, terminate him, suspend him or whatever…”
“I’ve been here on this board for nine or 10 months, and every meeting I’ve been to, there’s always been some problem with SUNO,” Clayton complained.
Bouie denied any wrongdoing and claimed Jefferson is involved in a conspiracy to assassinate his character.
“This is about political power trying to control what happens at Southern University, and particularly Southern University at New Orleans,” Bouie said.
Meanwhile, Jefferson’s attorney, Walter Wilkerson, said he’s preparing a lawsuit over his client’s termination. To help provide ammunition for the lawsuit, Wilkerson submitted a public records request to Southern University officials, asking for documentation pertaining to several alleged improprieties at SUNO.
One of the improprieties involves a sexual harassment complaint lodged against Bouie by an employee in his office. The employee says Bouie made unwelcome “romantic gestures” and showered her with expensive gifts.
Wilkerson also is demanding that school officials turn over a tape recording the woman secretly made of a conversation with Bouie to help substantiate her complaint.
Bouie called the sexual harassment complaint “lies and
misrepresentations of the truth.” He also dismissed Jefferson’s complaints about a sexually explicit e-mail she allegedly received from an employee in the chancellor’s office. Jefferson complained about the way the chancellor handled her complaints. No disciplinary action was taken against the employee.
Bouie refused to discuss details of that case, except to say he has submitted documentation to Tarver to justify his handling of Jefferson’s complaint. In addition, Jefferson’s attorney has demanded documents related to several alleged financial improprieties at SUNO, including:
• Inflated enrollment numbers.
• Financial problems stemming from recent audits, including a legislative audit yet to be released to the public.
• Financial irregularities in the computer information systems graduate program.
• SUNO financial aid practices that triggered claims for
state and federal reimbursement.
• Improprieties in SUNO’s Evening and Weekend College program.
Bouie has been trying since last summer to fire Jefferson and three other female administrators so he can establish his own management team (see Black Issues, Dec. 6). The other three administrators targeted by Bouie for termination are college of education Dean Denise Charbonnet, associate education Dean Louise Kaltenbaugh and Karen Martin, dean of SUNO’s Evening and Weekend College. Under university rules, all four women will be reassigned from their administrative posts to teaching jobs on the campus.
— By Scott Dyer
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com