Less than a year into his tenure as president of Oregon State University, F. King Alexander resigned from his post on Tuesday over a Title IX and sexual misconduct scandal that has rocked Louisiana State University, an institution he led from 2013 to 2019.
Oregon State’s Board of Trustees, which had voted to put Alexander on 10 weeks probation pending further investigation on March 1, accepted that resignation and offered him a settlement of around $670,000 from the school’s private donors, roughly equivalent to his one-year salary. Alexander will not be exiting the university officially until April 1, but he has been placed on administrative leave.
A search for a new president will begin Wednesday, according to several reports. In the interim, Provost and Executive Vice President Edward Feser has been installed as president. A professor of public policy, he has been with the university since February 2017. Prior to that he was Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and professor at the University of Illinois. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina.
During a public meeting with the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, Chair Rani Borkar said, “Dr. Alexander no longer has the confidence of the OSU community. This broken trust was expressed not only by the faculty senate, but an outpouring of heartfelt statements from students, alumni and survivors. We admit when we make mistakes.”
The decision to accept Alexander’s resignation comes on the heels of a lengthy investigation by independent firm Husch Blackwell into misconduct that occurred at LSU during his reign. The report found that the university under his leadership failed to properly oversee and staff its Title IX offices and also failed to act on reports of sexual harassment that were reported about then football coach Les Miles. Like Alexander, Miles lost his most recent job, mutually agreeing to part ways with the University of Kansas.
In leaving Oregon State, Alexander said in a statement after the Board’s decision: “I offered my letter of resignation to Oregon State University to allow us to move on.” By allowing the Board to accept those terms, Alexander cannot sue the university for potential back pay.
The decision brings to a close a bizarre week for Alexander, the Board and current leadership at Oregon State and Louisiana State. Alexander, who was highly critical of LSU last week, was called out in a three-page letter addressed to Borkar by Robert Dampf, Chair of LSU’s Board of Supervisors.
In it he noted Alexander’s lack of cooperation with Husch Blackwell, which made several attempts to interview him only to be told by Alexander he would only answer written questions. This despite “2,500 documents totaling 75,000 pages and more than 60 interviews with LSU employees.”
Dampf noted Alexander’s “arrogant and condescending comments about Louisiana’s culture, our state and our university. When sharing his opinion that Louisiana has a different moral standard than Oregon, he omits the fact that he enthusiastically counted himself as one of us for almost seven years.”
He also told Borkar in the letter, “there has to be hierarchy of discipline that appropriately applies to perpetrators, administrators, and employees based on the scale of their transgression and the scope of their responsibilities. Your Board of Trustees must be of a similar mind-set, since you collectively determined that probation, an uncommon admonishment of a sitting president, was an appropriate action.”
Dampf did, however, note the extra step Kansas did not take initially by removing Miles, “a firmer action.”
And on Tuesday, the OSU’s Board of Trustees, facing mounting public pressure, did the same, heeding the words of LSU’s current interim president Thomas Galligan who was cited in Dampf’s letter that “transparency is required for rebuilding trust.”