Joe Aguillard Exonerated! … oh wait, nevermind

First it was the liberals who were after Joe. Then it was the Calvinists. Or at least that has been the narrative. But, there are some troubling figures for this narrative. I came to Louisiana College because of the conservative doctrine and am not a Calvinist. But, I am from California and lived in NYC so I am easy to brand as a liberal. (Though you may want to read Am I a Liberal?). Then came Tim Johnson. He certainly isn’t a Calvinist or a liberal. He was even the Chairman of the Board when Aguillard was elected President and Johnson was a key figure in making that happen. Now, there comes Tony Perkins. I am not certain, but I do not believe he is Calvinist but he certainly isn’t liberal. In fact, he is a major political figure within conservative evangelicalism’s conservative political scene. His conservative credentials are as strong as any. In fact, when the relationship between Perkins and LC was first developing I remember Aguillard being rather excited about it.

So, what is happening now?

The truth is that Dr. Aguillard has a loose relationship with the truth. Tony Perkins recently wrote a letter (read Perkins letter), released through the Town Talk,  which dealt with two major issues. The second issue he deals with is actually the easiest to explain. For a year, Dr. Aguillard has been repeating the theme “Total Exoneration” regarding his mismanagement of college funds. But, the facts do not support that claim. I’ve dealt with this previously in the article Louisiana College: President Joe Aguillard’s Lie of “Exoneration”. The letter by Perkins adds to the facts we know. As a not-for-profit, LC must undergo annual audits. Well, the audit, performed by the firm PM&H, demonstrated that Aguillard did in fact misappropriate money. Perkins then points out that last year the administration claimed that there were claims of new information that invalidated the findings of the law firm Kinney, Ellinghausen, Richard, & DeShazo which found that Louisiana College had cause to terminate Dr. Aguillard’s contract. However, no such evidence has to this date been delivered to the Board of Trustees. In short, to this point all independent investigations into Aguillad’s behavior the law firm, the accounting firm, and the accrediting agency have supported guilt not exoneration.

The issue which takes up most of Perkin’s letter is more complicated but no less important. Aguillard has tried to argue that Board of Trustee members cannot conduct an independent investigation into Aguillard. I have been told that Aguillard and part of the board are trying to remove board member Larry Hubbard for exactly that. Apparently in December the college attorney down played the board’s fiduciary responsibility and culpability to the board members. Perkins believes that the board was misinformed by the attorney and wants to revisit the issue.

One part of this stood out to me in particular the flow of information from the college to the board. As the policies are currently structured all information flows through the President. In fact, I was told personally, by Aguillard, in no uncertain terms that for anyone besides the  President to communicate with the board was a fireable offense. Perkins refers to a document prepared by the law firm Alston & Bird LLP. Under the heading “Minimizing the Potential for Director Liability” the document reads, in part:

The board should have open communication with more than one staff member. It is very important that staff or a subgroup of the board not control information flow. If all information filters through one person, then the board might not get key information, particularly on issues regarding that staff member. (emphasis added by Perkins)

That is exactly what is happening now. All information flows through the President and then to the Executive Committee. So, both cautions are being violated. This point is very important because this opens the board members up for legal liability proceedings. The very way the policies are currently established violates best practice when it comes to Trustee fiduciary responsibility. This concerns Perkins as it should concern all board members. But, more importantly it is a recipe for hiding the truth.

 

Rondall Reynoso

Rondall is an artist, scholar, and speaker. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. He holds an MFA in Painting and an MS in Art History from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY and is completing a Ph.D. in Art History and Aesthetics from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.

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