A Baptist college in Louisiana is seeking to remove its controversial former president from a teaching position on the faculty, according to a local media report.
The Town Talk in Alexandria, La., quoted unnamed sources March 16 saying that Louisiana College is taking steps to either terminate or settle the contract of Joe Aguillard, whose stormy nine-year tenure as president ended in April 2014 with the college board of trustees agreeing to name him president emeritus and putting him on a one-year sabbatical before allowing him to return to campus as a senior professor.
The current president, Rick Brewer, said he cannot comment on personnel matters, and the current board chairman did not return messages from The Town Talk requesting comment.
Aguillard’s election as president in 2005 was controversial because it occurred as the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s leadership was shifting from moderate to conservative control. He made headlines in 2008 with the announcement of the Judge Paul Pressler School of Law, which never opened, and in 2012, when he said he would shut the college down before providing abortion-inducing drugs mandated by Obamacare.
In 2013 Aguillard stepped into an ongoing debate in the Southern Baptist Convention between free will and predestination when his administration declined to renew the contracts of three Calvinist professors, who believed that God, and not human agency, is sovereign in determining whether or not an individual is saved. Critics said the conflict was staged to draw attention away from bigger problems at Louisiana College.
Two vice presidents filed a 13-page whistleblower complaint accusing the president of misappropriating funds and intentionally deceiving administrators and trustees. One of the two later filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination, claiming his contract was not renewed in retaliation for the whistleblower complaint.
Documents leaked online alleged extortion, cover up of a sex scandal, forgery and mishandling of a $5 million donation to the Caskey School of Divinity, all on Aguillard’s watch.
Through it all, a majority of the board of trustees stood by the embattled president. Trustees voted to retain him as president in a specially called meeting in April 2013, praying for him with a laying on of hands.
Aguillard chose to step down as president in April 2014. Two weeks later the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed Louisiana College on probation because of issues related to trustee board governance, institutional integrity, personnel policies and audit findings regarding student financial aid and other financial control matters.
Terms of Aguillard’s departure included a one-year paid sabbatical at his full $202,007 base salary, after which he would return to the classroom as a tenured senior professor earning $101,003.50 his first year and $60,602.10 for all subsequent years he works at the college.
Then-trustee chairman Tommy French released a statement crediting Aguillard for serving the college “with diligence, fortitude and Christian commitment” and announcing that trustees “voted to bestow upon Dr. Aguillard the honor of continuing his contributions to Louisiana College in the role of president emeritus.”
French formally conveyed the president emeritus title on Aguillard with a medal and certificate of distinguished service at the first chapel service in the fall of 2014.
Argile Smith, associate dean of the Louisiana College Caskey School of Divinity, followed Aguillard as interim president until the election of longtime Charleston Southern University administrator Rick Brewer as the ninth president of Louisiana College in March 2015.