Names of LSU presidential finalists must be made public, judge rules

LOUISIANA — A Louisiana newspaper has won its lawsuit against Louisiana State University, with a ruling that makes presidential search candidates’ names public record.

Thursday, a state judge said that LSU must disclose the names of finalists that were considered by the search committee because they are public records, The Advocate reported.

The Advocate Executive Editor Carl Redman said the newspaper is “very pleased” with today’s news, though LSU could still appeal.

“Frankly we didn’t think that there was any doubt that we would prevail,” Redman said. “The public records law is pretty clear about turning over the names of people who are being considered as active applicants for public jobs, and we thought all along the process LSU used was a sham to get around the law.”

A private search consultant hired by a private foundation of the university handled the search, and both entities said their records were not public. The Advocate and Andrea Gallo, editor-in-chief of The Daily Reveille, both sued seeking access to the records. Gallo is scheduled to appear in court next week.

LSU had not issued a statement as of press time.

Though the university has already chosen a president, Redman said the precedent the ruling set is important for schools around the state to see.

The paper continued with its lawsuit even after the president was named in part to set that precedent, but also to gain more information for the general public and for policy makers, Redman said. For example, Redman said the staff wants to look into the quality of candidates LSU was able to pull in light of the financial troubles colleges and universities have been facing.

“If they are having trouble attracting high quality candidates, that is something the public needs to know regardless of the fact that the search is over,” Redman said.

Scott Sternberg, the lawyer representing Gallo, said he was glad the judge agreed that the candidates’ names were at the “core of what Louisiana Public Records Law was created to shine light on.”

Gallo could not be reached for comment. The hearing in her case is set for Tuesday, Sternberg said.

By Sara Tirrito, SPLC staff writer. Contact Tirrito by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 124.