Despite being drafted more than a year ago, the governing provisions have not been executed. All that's required is the signatures of UL President Ray Authement and the president of the UL Foundation's board. The version of the bylaws given to The Independent is the same version that was drafted more than a year ago.
That draft states: "The business of the Museum shall be managed by a Museum Governing Board, which shall have full power and authority â?¦" The provisions add: "The Museum Governing Board will have sole responsibility and authority for the operation and maintenance of the Art Museum and all physical facilities comprising the Museum project." Although there is no direct reference to whether the board is responsible for terminating museum staff, it does state that the board is to be responsible for managing "the selection of a museum curator and staff."
UL Vice President of Academic Affairs Steve Landry says the board was never consulted before Authement placed former Director Herman Mhire on administrative leave in August ("Museum Meltdown," Nov. 23). Whether the board or Authement had that authority is unclear since the board has apparently been operating without provisions.
But that's not what the current UL Foundation president says. Rusty Cloutier, president of the foundation board, says in an e-mail, "I have seen the agreement, and it was done and signed by Jim Prince." But former foundation President Jim Prince, under whose watch the bylaws were drafted, says that isn't the case. He writes in another e-mail: "I may have seen a copy of the draft agreement; however, I do not recall whether said agreement was ever finalized and/or executed."
Mark Tullos, UAM's deputy director, says he can't locate a copy of the provisions but believes they had been adopted and signed by Authement. "Of course, I wasn't involved in any of that, so I don't know," he says. But a memorandum from last year states that not only was Tullos involved, he was provided with a draft of the provisions. Dated Nov. 2, 2004, Foundation Executive Director Julie Falgout sent Tullos the eight-page copy of the bylaws with the following cover letter:
"Mark, per our conversation, I am enclosing the final draft of the Governing Board provision bylaws for the University Art Museum Governing Board. The documents need to be authorized by the University President and Foundation President.
"However, I wanted you to have them to include in your board manuals. I will forward final copies for your records once authorized." Copies of this memo were also sent to Mhire and Landry.
And if the status of the bylaws isn't confusing enough, no one seems to know who has authority over the governing board. Landry says, "I think the governing board was formed to try to establish a close working relationship between [the university and the foundation]. It's hard to say it's one or the other. It's intended to guarantee participation by both." While the foundation owns the land and the museum facility, the university leases the property from the foundation and provides the museum with staff and operational costs.
Lead donor Paul Hilliard, who pledged a $3 million gift for the museum, is still confused about the governing board. "I don't know what its job is," he says. "Was it ever supposed to do anything? As far as I know, Authement came to every meeting of the governing board and controlled the agenda. So I would guess that most of them just sat there and didn't say anything because they knew this was just out there to make people think that there was actually a group of citizens." Landry says it is common for Authement to attend the meetings of university boards.
Mhire says Authement attended the meetings and controlled the governing board, even though the university president wasn't a member of the board. "He dominated most discussions whenever significant decisions had to be made," Mhire says. "The governing board usually followed the president's lead and voted accordingly. I cannot recall a single moment when a board member expressed a point of view different from the president's, or openly disagreed with the president's position on any aspect of museum policy or operation."
Hilliard is also unclear as to if or why the bylaws have never been signed or executed. "Maybe it's a fraudulent document, what they call a spurious instrument ' it doesn't mean anything," he says. "Was it just out there for public consumption? I don't know the answer to that."
Authement says, "The governing board is in a state of flux, but it is very near to completing its bylaws." For now, Landry is taking responsibility for the bylaw confusion.
"I was personally responsible for having those executed between the president and the foundation," Landry says. "We totally began to operate in the context of those governing procedures without me having them executed. â?¦ Given the attention that we're giving to it now, and recognizing my own failings in not having this executed, I will bring it to the next governing board meeting to see if they still stand now."
A new long-term strategic planning committee is studying the bylaws to see if they are in line with the stringent accreditation process administered by the American Association of Museums, a goal the university will have to attain in order to attract the large-scale exhibitions that will sustain the museum. Given the confusion and lack of clear governing authority for the museum, national accreditation seems little more than a pipe dream without significant changes to the museum's bylaws.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Ten departing CEOs rake in $430 million; profile of FSU gunman emerges; Buffalo's weather woes and more national and international news for Friday, November 21, 2014.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.
The money came through a general obligation bond sale Thursday.
A legend in the Acadiana Oil Patch, Comeaux died Monday, Nov. 17.
With a growing number of alleged sexual assault victims coming out against Bill Cosby in recent weeks, upcoming projects have been canned by NBC and Netflix, but that won’t affect the once-loved comedian and actor’s scheduled performance in Lafayette.
The Baltimore Ravens' retooled secondary had no trouble against a rookie quarterback at home. This week, however, their task is far more challenging: stopping Drew Brees on the road in New Orleans.
Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry's name to the list of possible Republican presidential candidates flooding the campaign trail for GOP Senate candidate Bill Cassidy.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is in Florida this week with his fellow Republican governors for another gripe session aimed at their favorite target, the president, this time taking aim at his immigration plans.
Early voting for the runoff is shortened by two days because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Coach Don” Gagnard is running for school board. Today he offers his critique of the socioeconomic relationship between government subsidies and obesity.
Former Le Rosier chef who cooked at the James Beard House and was named one of the “Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine in 1995 was 48.
Pat Cooper is contesting his termination by the LPSB, filing a petition Tuesday that calls the recent decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
A look at the numbers highlights the challenge facing Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu as she tries to win a fourth term in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.
A national animal rights group has been rebuffed by a Baton Rouge district court judge, although the group might still get its day in court.
The administration says public college campuses won't be on the chopping block.
The legendary musician is performing at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser Dec. 1 in New Orleans.
Old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil and gas royalty payments and other unclaimed money is sent to the state when a business cannot locate someone.