LSU Shreveport medical school chancellor under probe over allegations of sex discrimination | News
As LSU’s flagship campus continues to convulse in anger over how top officials have handled allegations of sexual harassment and dating violence, the head of the system’s medical school in Shreveport is under investigation by the LSU system over allegations of sex discrimination that some say reached the level of misconduct, according to officials with knowledge of the probe.
Five members of the 16-member LSU Board of Supervisors, along with other officials, confirmed that several allegations involving sexual discrimination on the part of Dr. G.E. Ghali are documented in a report delivered to the university within the past two weeks. They said LSU has launched a Title IX investigation into Ghali, which can probe whether university employees have discriminated against others based on their gender, and which often also investigate allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct.
Ghali has been the chancellor of LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport since 2016 and is a renowned oral and maxillofacial surgeon. He’s been in the spotlight over the past year during the coronavirus pandemic, speaking at statewide news conferences about the toll of the pandemic and imploring people to wear masks. Ghali also garnered national attention last year when he delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention, in which he praised President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
“The university was previously made aware of allegations regarding Dr. Ghali, which were evaluated by the administration at that time and discussed with Dr. Ghali,” said LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard. “Recently, as part of normal operations, the Board of Supervisors requested ‘360 evaluations’ of a number of campus leaders. During this process allegations were raised regarding Dr Ghali that have prompted an ongoing review.”
The complaints about Ghali have surfaced at a moment when LSU officials are facing a firestorm of criticism over the system’s handling of past allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct on the Baton Rouge campus. The university released a report March 5 from the law firm Husch Blackwell that detailed its past failures in handling sexual misconduct allegations, and Interim LSU President Tom Galligan vowed to adopt 17 recommendations included in the report.
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LSU commissioned a review of Ghali’s performance, a typical practice for an executive whose contract is set to expire at the end of this year. As part of the board’s usual routine, consultants were hired through the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges to complete an analysis of Ghali’s stewardship of LSUHSC Shreveport, which board members call a “360 evaluation.”
But the report, which one supervisor described as a “mixed bag,” included allegations that Ghali made sexist comments to female employees that three sources said “could be perceived as sexual harassment.”
No details or names of complainants are included in the report, according to three of the sources. Two others said the report included specific incidents reported by four unnamed nurses.
The Advocate | The Times-Picayune has requested copies of the complaints and performance review, but LSU has not yet publicly released them. Ghali has not given the university permission to publicly release it, either.
Ghali did not respond to a request for comment made Tuesday afternoon through LSU Health Shreveport’s public affairs and communications office.
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“The report was part of a look, an overall review of his job performance,” said one supervisor, speaking on condition of anonymity because supervisors are advised against speaking independently about LSU matters.
During his time as chancellor, Ghali has been credited with forging alliances with other hospital systems that helped shore up the medical school during trying financial times. But one board member and another source close to the investigation described Ghali as a polarizing figure, with three board members saying that they’d “gotten wind of some complaints against him in the past.”
The board’s health care and medical education committee will review the complaints and the probe regarding Ghali, supervisors said.
The ramifications of LSU’s Husch Blackwell report have reached far and wide, while state legislators have called on LSU to take stronger action to protect students from sexual misconduct and to atone for their past failures.
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Former LSU football coach Les Miles, who was accused of sexual harassment in 2013, has parted ways with his coaching job in Kansas. And former LSU President F. King Alexander could lose his job Wednesday as president of Oregon State University, where the Board of Trustees has convened a hearing over whether to discipline him based on the report.