By Kevin Shannahan/Opinion
There are times when reading the news lately, that one knows, just knows, that the article accurately describes an event because no satirist could possibly conceive of something that craptacular. Such was the case when I read in the news that the president of the University of South Carolina had resigned, a resignation initially refused and later accepted, after giving what had to be the worst commencement speech in recent history. This fiasco touches upon Louisiana in that there was a concern that the recently hired LSU president and current provost of the University of South Carolina, Dr. William Tate, IV, was to be lured away from LSU to serve as president in South Carolina.
I was thinking about that as I leaned back in my recliner for some deep contemplation………
“Newsflash! In a surprise move, the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors chose Dr. Kevin Shannahan (Doctor of Inhumane Letters in Curmudgeonly Arts) as the new president of LSU. Below is Dr. Shannahan’s statement upon his swearing in.”
Good afternoon. I would like to begin my tenure by returning to first principles before anything else. Louisiana State University is just that, a university, and a public one. We are entrusted by the people of Louisiana with their tax dollars and more importantly, their trust. We are also entrusted with their sons and daughters, their grandchildren, and their hopes for the future. They send them in the hopes that their children’s lives will be a bit better than theirs and their grandchildren’s better yet. That trust is a heavy responsibility and will underlie every action I take as president. What this university is not, or sadly is, but should not be, will also be a focus of my administration. LSU is a university; it is not a farm team for the NFL or NBA. I will touch upon more of this later, but for the moment, rest assured that the only “strong ass offers” that will be made by our athletic department will be for the chance to play a sport at LSU and receive an education.
We are Louisiana State University, a university meant to serve every corner of our state from New Orleans to Lake Providence, from Plain Dealing to Plaquemine. For all too long, we have ill served the poor rural areas and poor urban areas of our state. Our coaches scour Louisiana for athletic talent where it may be found, but there is nowhere near the same intensity shown for high school kids from our poorer areas who are not Division I prospects. That will stop and it will stop now.
LSU is uniquely positioned to bring equity of opportunity to every corner of our state. Each parish in Louisiana has an LSU AG Extension office. We have a statewide footprint unequalled by any other educational institution in the state. We will expand that resource. I will sit down with not only our education department, but our departments in mathematics, the arts and sciences, languages, and the liberal arts. We will then meet with public school superintendents across the state to ascertain their needs and see where we can assist. LSU’s Ag Extension offices will host ACT/SAT and PSAT preparation classes for our state’s poorer children on a par with private tutoring. LSU will have the offices hosting PSAT tests with an eye to increasing the number of National Merit Scholarship winners. Every year, the newspapers print the semi-finalist, finalists, and winners of National Merit Scholarships. They are inevitably from the same pool of wealthier schools. LSU can, and will, can bring the same quality of instruction to every corner of our state.
LSU will relentlessly pursue academic excellence. We will, as of tomorrow, start preparing LSU students for Rhodes, Truman, Marshall and other prestigious academic awards. LSU will have at least one student earn a Rhodes Scholarship within the next 5 years.
I have read in the news that a former coach allegedly had a “look” he insisted on having his female staff possess. I will not go into the sordid details, but rest assured that the “look” I insist upon our staff having is that of intelligence, competence, and hard work. Those are the attributes I expect. I will not allow anything or anyone to compromise the dignity of the students entrusted to us.
Starting next signing season, every LSU athlete will have to be eligible for regular admission. There will be no special admissions. Nor will we corrupt a program intended to aid desegregation by admitting a number of students who do not meet regular admission standards by using it to admit athletes belonging to minority groups. This university will no longer be complicit in the cynical abuse of student athletes who have been valued all their lives for nothing beyond their athletic ability.
Louisiana is a poor state that faces many challenges. Louisiana State University will do everything in its power to make our state a better place to live. Let us get to work! Thank you.