LSU board chair ‘beyond offended’ by Alexander’s claims, sends letter to OSU Board of Trustees

Robert Dampf, chair of the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors, has sent a letter to Rani Borkar, chair of the Oregon State University Board of Trustees, refuting several claims made by OSU President F. King Alexander.

Millicent Durand, News Contributor

Editor’s Note: Content warning—story contains mention of sexual harassment and assault.

Robert Dampf, chair of the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors, has sent a letter to Rani Borkar, chair of the Oregon State University Board of Trustees, refuting several claims made by OSU President F. King Alexander.

Alexander has been embroiled in controversy following the release of a report by law firm Husch Blackwell, outlining mishandling of Title IX complaints during his time as president of LSU.

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“During your board meeting last week, an individual raised the question of why Dr. Alexander was only offered 13 written questions by Husch Blackwell, after which he espoused his frustration at not being interviewed. In actuality, Dr. Alexander was twice invited to be interviewed and instead communicated through Oregon State’s general counsel that he would only accept questions in writing,” Dampf said in the letter. “Husch Blackwell consented when it was the only way to get answers from Dr. Alexander, but stated their preference for a live interview so that there could be follow up questions. Had Dr. Alexander accepted the invitation for a detailed interview, naturally the report would have included many of the details he indicated that he wished he would have been able to provide, and perhaps he wouldn’t be in the position he currently faces.”

Dampf also went on to claim that LSU already had Title IX coordinators on each campus prior to Alexander’s tenure. 

“Had Dr. Alexander consented to be interviewed, Husch Blackwell could have sorted through the inconsistencies and provided an opportunity for correction. That time has passed and it seems fruitless to quibble with the previous president about what happened during this tenure.” Dampf said in the letter.

Dampf, speaking of the recent actions taken by Interim LSU President Tom Galligan, said Galligan attempted to find solutions to LSU’s Title IX issues within the current budget, in contrast with Alexander’s claims of “limited budget” when it came to matters regarding the LSU Title IX office. 

“President Galligan has made no bones about his responsibility to manage the change necessary to protect LSU students from ever experiencing these indignities again. It is unfair that Tom must labor under such duress, but we are grateful to him and feel confident the university is heading in the right direction,” Dampf said in the letter. 

Dampf also called Alexander’s recent comments regarding the culture at LSU arrogant and condescending.

“I feel confident that I can speak not only 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 said. “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 seven years. In general, I think it’s a fair assessment to say that most Louisianans are, at their core, very similar to most Oregonians. They work hard, raise families, and look to their land-grant universities to educate their children while extending research to improve the state’s well-being. 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 these hard-working people was evident enough to make me question his commitment to those we serve.”

In all, Dampf wishes luck to the OSU community, ending his letter with “Geaux Tigers and Geaux Beavs.”

“I wish this letter was not necessary, and it would not be if Dr. Alexander had spoken with Husch Blackwell and shared his perspectives. But, I felt it was necessary to clarify the record, as well as respond to some of his observations,” Dampf said. 

Rani Borkar, OSU Board of Trustees chair, was unable to be reached for requests for comment by the time of publication.

The Oregon State University Board of Trustees will be meeting again on March 23 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. in public session to further discuss and consider action regarding Alexander’s leadership. As part of the agenda, the board may hold an executive session to consider the dismissal or disciplining of the OSU president.