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Nakamoto: Embattled SU administrator in line for high-dollar school gig

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BATON ROUGE – A top-level Southern University executive wants to forgo the hiring process and prevent other people for applying for an open position in order to re-hire an embattled, former Southern employee for a high-paying position, the WBRZ Investigative Unit has learned.

In a letter from Southern University Executive Vice President James Ammons to Southern System President Dr. Ray Belton, Ammons asked that a special assistant position assigned to his office and currently open be reserved for embattled former AG Center Chancellor-Dean Bobby Phills. The position will pay $172,000 and the Southern Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Thursday in Shreveport on whether Phills gets the job.

Bobby Phills abruptly resigned on February 1. Following his resignation, multiple women accused Phills of sexual harassment in interviews with WBRZ. Last week, at least 75 people showed up for a #metoo protest marching from the AG Center to the Southern University administrative building. Signs in the march were directed to university officials amid the resignation and possible rehiring of Phills.

In between news of his resignation and the march, Phills wrote in an email to former staffers that he had plans to be re-hired by the university for the fall.

Advocates are bothered.

Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR) found the situation concerning.

"...It doesn't send the proper message,” an agency official said. Adding, it is likely hard for victims of abuse of any kind to feel they are being heard.

"That is not sending the message it should be. It's definitely not showing they are a zero-tolerance campus,” STAR's Capital Area Regional Director Kirsten Raby said.

"I don't think any perpetrator has any business being in a place where they already were and violated people," Raby said. "Especially someone who has a position of power, they should be held to a much higher accountability."

A Southern spokesperson would not elaborate on the job, or Phills being considered. Instead, referred to the discussion and vote planned for Thursday.

Raby was more forthcoming with thoughts on Thursday’s vote: "I'm really hoping when the board comes together to make this vote they take a look at what this would mean to people not only on their campus but the prospective student staff and others that want to be on the campus," Raby said.

Phills’ attorney previously issued a statement denying the claims and saying the employees who participated in the march were disgruntled employees.

“Shame on those SU employees," the attorney said.

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