Posted: Mar 7, 2011 5:12 PM by Russell Jones
Updated: Mar 7, 2011 7:30 PM
BATON ROUGE - The state Board of Regents' longest-serving member, Roland Toups, has resigned after meeting with Governor Bobby Jindal and his chief of staff about diversity on the board.
Jindal's office confirmed to News 2 that Toups met with Jindal and his chief of staff, Timmy Teepell, on Friday and that Teepell said Jindal was "interested in his resigning" and that he "voluntarily did it" in the interest of adding diversity to the board.
In his resignation letter, Toups said it was an honor and privilege to serve on the board and he felt a "responsibility" to step down.
"Nothing should stand in the way of achieving excellence in our higher education system," Toups said in his letter. "The Board must be allowed to address all issues without the significant external distractions that exist today."
The makeup of the board was called into question after Jindal's request for the regents to study merging the University of New Orleans and Southern University at New Orleans campuses. A lawsuit was also recently filed on behalf of SU students that claimed the board was unconstitutional because Jindal replaced all its minority members with white men.
Toups was first appointed to the board by Governor Mike Foster in 1997 and reappointed twice more, once by Foster and once by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
"He (Toups) has been a tireless leader in reforming our higher education system so students have a quality learning environment and are prepared to compete for rewarding jobs," said Gov. Jindal in a press release.
Toups is also CEO of Turner Industries in Baton Rouge.