An Open Letter to the Board of Trustees
March 10, 2021
Dear Members of the OSU Board of Trustees,
As an organization, United Academics of Oregon State University values respect, equality, and social justice. The Executive Council of UAOSU is deeply disturbed by the recent corroboration of President F. King Alexander’s role in protecting the head coach and star players of Louisiana State University’s football team. In doing so, he prioritized athletics over protecting victims of sexual harassment and assault. President Alexander’s tepid mea culpa to the OSU community minimizes his responsibility and has done nothing to ameliorate our disgust at his inaction or to address the unsavory aspects of his leadership at LSU.
Oregon State University has worked to regain the trust of the university community following our own problems with sexual violence. Trust is the cornerstone of making our university a safe and welcoming environment for all. Trust that when victims come forward, their experiences will be heard and addressed; trust that we can count on our administration to be honest and forthright; trust that victims will be protected by those in positions of authority. In his message to the university, President Alexander stated, apparently without irony, that the things that happened at LSU couldn’t happen here because we have a more robust institutional framework. But the news of President Alexander’s poor choices while at LSU has undermined the important, on-going work being done on our campus, the very work that has helped to create that institutional framework. Alarmingly, you, as the Board of Trustees have yet to publicly acknowledge the depth of the problem created by this hire. The damage to our institutional reputation is significant and the longer this situation is allowed to fester, the greater that damage will be.
There are a number of questions that members of the Board must answer. How did you come to hire F. King Alexander? Did you know of his past problems and choose to ignore them and hide them from the public? Were you misled by the expensive headhunters you employed to manage the search? Were you misled by Alexander himself? Did you ask about any past issues he may have had in his previous position and, if so, what was the response? It is clear that this search was badly bungled, and we deserve answers to these questions so that we can prevent a repeat in the future. You should begin by committing to open search processes so that candidates for leadership positions can be fully vetted, as is true for all other hiring at OSU.
OSU must move forward with a demonstrated commitment to our stated institutional values. The Executive Council of UAOSU calls upon the Board to hold yourselves and President Alexander accountable for the damage that has been done to our university. Let us build a better future, a future built on a foundation of equitable, transparent, and responsible leadership.
Kathleen Stanley, President
On behalf of the UAOSU Executive Council