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.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”