By Kelly Boggs, Message Editor
A group concerned about the future of Louisiana College has sent a letter emphasizing key points it believes “decision makers” for the college must consider if LC is to have its reputation restored and its future enhanced.
The letter, dated April 25 and signed by 90 individuals, was from a group identified as “Concerned Friends and Alumni, Louisiana College” and addressed “To the Decision Makers for Louisiana College.”
The letter called attention to what the group said are “some obvious ‘big picture’ steps that need to be taken.” Five areas were highlighted by the group.
The first item the group said needed to be a priority was: “Restore integrity to the office of president.” In order to achieve this objective the group wrote, “The search for a new President [sic] should be a nationwide search for a person with experience as a ‘turn-around specialist.’”
Additionally the group indicated, “The new President [sic] must be a Baptist of impeccable character and reputation, have a proven record of success in collegiate or university administration, and be willing to work diligently to restore the reputation and integrity of both the office of President [sic] and the College [sic] as a whole.”
A second area the group cited as needing attention was: “Work with SACS [Southern Association of Colleges and Schools] to ensure full accreditation and removal of all notations from fiscal, administrative, process, facilities, organizational, and transparency concerns.”
“It is almost unfathomable to think LC spent not one, but two consecutive years on warning status from SACS,” the group said. Later in the letter, the group stated, “Concerns regarding accreditation should be a rarity in any institution. That is continues to occur at a college where integrity should be unquestionable is beyond belief.”
The third item the group indicated must be addressed is: “Develop a culture of integrity and transparency at all levels.”
The group cited several issues that point to this need including confusion over trustee confidentiality agreements, the loss of the institution’s “largest donor in LC history” and what seems to be the college’s reluctance to share pertinent information on the school’s academic and fiscal health as well enrollment figures.
“Increase fiscal responsibility,” is a fourth area the group believes needs attention. A recommendation that LC join The Evangelical Council for Fiscal Accountability and submit to a full audit by the organization would, according to the group, indicate “that LC is serious about getting its fiscal house in order and would help with the recruitment of potential donors.”
A final item the group drew attention to was: “Reach out and involve alumni.” The letter stated, “Louisiana College has a strong group of alumni who would dearly love to be involved in helping restore their school’s standing and reputation. The new administration would be well-advised to reach out to them now, during the transition phase” The group added, “A word of warning – don’t ignore them now and expect them to give later.”
The letter pointed out, “These are not individual initiatives. The must be undertaken as a comprehensive group. Restoring integrity to the presidency is useless without increasing transparency and integrity. Alumni involvement isn’t possible without increased fiscal responsibility. Together, they provide a solid framework for the next steps in LC’s journey towards regaining respect and credibility.”
The letter goes on to seek clarification concerning the future direction of LC. “If, however, the vision for Louisiana College is not to ‘provide liberal arts, professional, and graduate programs,” the Trustees and leadership of the LBC need to make that clear so that students, faculty, alumni, and supporters can move on to other things.
“If the goal is to convert LC into a Baptist Bible college (as more followers of the LC saga are beginning to believe is the case), the Trustees and the executive leadership of the LBC need to make that clear. While that decision would likely anger and frustrate thousands of alumni and supporters, at least the direction of the school would be made clear.”
The group added, “Churches and potential donors would know exactly what their contributions will be going towards and would be able to make informed decisions regarding whether or not to support the school. With clear direction, contributions may even increase.”
The group opened its letter by saying: “On April 15, 2014, the Louisiana College trustees took an initial step towards restoring LC’s credibility as a Christian liberal arts college. The issue that remains to be addressed is, what next? [sic] How will the Board of Trustees and the Louisiana Baptist Convention move forward with LC?”
The letter concluded as follows: “The actions over the next few months will determine whether LC will be able to turn the corner and continue her 108 year history, or if she will continue her downward slide towards a future as a footnote in the story of what might have been a once great institution.
Louisiana College, the prayers of your alumni are with you. We pray for you daily and dilligently work to see you restored. We pray that those in the position to make that happen will join us. Together we can insure that Louisiana College greatest days are ahead of her.”