Our Initiatives

On December 12, at the request of President and Chancellor F. King Alexander, LSU Alumni Association President and CEO Cliff Vannoy made a presentation to the LSU Board of Supervisors regarding the Association’s initiatives and to answer questions concerning a special CPA audit.

Mr. Vannoy’s remarks to the LSU Board of Supervisors follow.

Report to the LSU Board of Supervisors

December 12, 2014

I will start by expressing my regret regarding the bad press that was generated for LSU when a law suit was filed by a former employee that discredited the LSU Alumni Association (LSUAA), its staff, and the Board of Directors. We believe that you will see that the LSUAA leadership and Board of Directors have been very prudent in our responsibilities. The law suit and its allegations made by the plaintiff overshadowed the good work done by most staff members and our Board.

As you probably know, when the news of the suit was published the board’s executive committee immediately called in our CPA firm to conduct a special audit. In addition, our attorney engaged an independent third party audit firm mutually agreed upon by the University and the Association. The third party audit included the years 2007 through 2012. In addition, an environmental audit was conducted. Both the attorney and the third party CPA are on hand today and following my comments, are available to answer questions you may have.

On August 22, 2014, a new day began in the history of the LSU and the LSU Alumni Association. That was the day that a collaborative venture began between the LSU administration, faculty, staff, alumni, future alumni, and the men and women of the LSUAA. The staff and the Board of Directors join me in taking this opportunity to thank Dr. Alexander for listening, using sound judgment during a firestorm criticism, and providing feedback and time which enabled an atmosphere of change and improvement. Together we have all taken the important steps to better serve LSU.

The following six steps have been taken by the Association staff and Board of Directors:

1. Review the policy manual and update it to ensure legal and moral leadership principles are followed and expected.

2. Introduce new opportunities for volunteer engagement and leadership.

3. Reinvigorate alumni chapter participation.

4. Call for a review of the Association to examine ways to enhance services to LSU, our alumni, and future alumni.

5. Plan and budget for remodeling and service upgrades to the very popular and successful Cook Hotel and Conference Center.

6. Partner with the University to enhance participation of future alumni.

Step One

We engaged the services of one of the nation’s most experienced human resources professionals to review and make suggested improvements to the LSUAA employee policy manual. New employee onboarding procedures have been established and implemented. In addition, a human resources committee of the Board of Directors was established. Best practices have been recommended that include but are not limited to:

A. Train a member of the staff as a certified human resource professional

B. Conduct annual employee reviews

C. Upgrade corrective and disciplinary procedures

D. Eliminate severance payments

E. Implement sexual harassment training.

Step Two

Improvements have been made to the Articles of Incorporation and By-laws to streamline and update the structure of the Association. The Board of Directors enacted term limits. The nominating committee has an important role to play and will give consideration to alumni population, geographic locations, professional experience, and civic and non-profit volunteer board leadership. The desired results are to provide increased opportunities for alumni service. (See related story on newly appointed members of the National Board of Directors at http://lsualumni.org/news/Annual-MeetingPast-Chairs-Honored-New-Board-Members-Named-1)

Step Three

Increase emphasis on outreach to alumni through our worldwide alumni chapter program. In September we hosted a Chapter Leadership Summit. Fifty-five volunteers around the country attended and learned about the new initiatives of the Association. The LSUAA staff shared our pledge to attend local board meetings in person, via Skype, or conference calls. Additional staff has been assigned new duties to accomplish this initiative. Chapter leaders had the opportunity to voice concerns and suggest improvements. We challenged the chapters to create enthusiasm for increasing the percentage of alumni who donate to LSU.

A newly developed joint membership program was emphasized which allows members to give online and join both the local chapter and National LSU Alumni Association. As a result, 660 new donors have made online gifts to become joint members. The potential for success is huge and we will call upon all alumni to make a difference by supporting this program. Currently, thirty-four key chapters, including Houston and Dallas, have created the online website connection to make joint membership available. Additional chapters are scheduled to go live in early 2015. In fact, Board of Supervisors member Blake Chatelain is among a group of LSU faithful who are working with the Association to reestablish the Central Louisiana "CENLA” Alumni Chapter.

Step Four

I have called for a full review of the Association to assess the best possible ways to serve alumni, future alumni and the University. Consultants have been engaged and are scheduled to arrive in January. The consultants will suggest best practices and fresh ideas as to how we may better serve alumni, future alumni, and the University. The findings will be presented to the Board of Directors and a five-year strategic plan will be written with an emphasis on engagement, collaboration and increased participation by alumni and friends.

Step Five

Hospitality entrepreneurs currently serving on the Board of Managers of The Cook Hotel have begun a study of the very successful hotel and conference center with the goal of modifying facilities and services to deliver finer customer experiences. Once completed, a plan of action and budget will be established to upgrade accommodations and amenities that are stellar in the Baton Rouge market. At LSU we deliver excellence and we intend to offer the best facility and service package possible.

Step Six

Collaboration with University departments and future alumni organizations has already begun to create a new culture of future alumni engagement. It starts when future alumni arrive on campus. The LSUAA will be a part of key programs like STRIPES and Bengal Bound. Preliminary plans are underway to create a network of alumni and friends of LSU who own or operate businesses or who are in positions of authority to interview and hire LSU graduates first and foremost.

Collaborative efforts are already in place with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and with Louisiana Economic Development to fill job openings in Louisiana with LSU graduates who are eager to return to our great state.

In conclusion, the Association will continue to provide scholarships for hundreds of the best and brightest future alumni who attend LSU, fund study abroad scholarships, and underwrite international student scholarships. We pledge continued support of professors who are selected by LSU and are deemed the most outstanding in their field through the Alumni Professorship program and Alumni Departmental Professorships. In addition, each year, ten of the most promising assistant professors are provided a handsome stipend and are recognized by receiving the Rising Faculty Research Award. This is all done at no cost to the University.

The last order of business today is the independent audit of the LSU Alumni Association. You have already received a copy of the compete audit and the summery letter Douglas Williams stating: "the CPA firm which performed the more extensive review requested by LSU, concluded that "there were no funds or assets misappropriated to the benefit of Ms. Heath or any of the above-mentioned employees.

The LSU community, and all friends and supporters of the Alumni Association, should find great comfort in the fact that two independent reviews by well-established and respected accounting firms, found "no evidence of inappropriate use of Alumni Association funds or assets.”

(Introduce Ronald Gagnet, CPA Hannis T. Bourgeois and Douglas Williams, Partner - Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson)

Result: the audience applauded and no questions were asked. The meeting proceeded on to the next agenda item.



   

 

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