It’s not that James Llorens isn’t an improvement over Troy Bell, and it’s not that he doesn’t have some qualifications for this job, but…damn.
BATON ROUGE, LA –Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome appointed a chief administrative officer Monday afternoon.
“Last week, I announced the appointment of Troy Bell as my chief administrative officer. As the week unfolded, more information emerged about his professional history and academic credentials. It became obvious, even after a number of meetings and talking with the mayor of the last city where Mr. Bell was employed, that additional vetting should have occurred. I made a mistake with this important hire and I accept full responsibility,” said Broome. “Mr. Bell was not the person that this city and parish deserved. I immediately accepted his resignation before the close of business on April 21. This action was taken so that my administration could put this completely behind us, and continue to serve our fellow residents and more our city-parish forward” said Broome.
Broome says Dr. James Llorens will serve as interim CAO, effective Tuesday, April 25 and her hopes is to hire a permanent replacement soon.
“I look forward to having Dr. Llorens join our team. I know that he will ‘hit the ground running’ and contribute immensely to the important work we do daily. He has spent several years serving this community in a number of capacities, including here in city hall,” said Broome.
Llorens was most recently the president at Cristo Rey High School in North Baton Rouge, but retired last October. Prior to that, he was fired, more or less, as the chancellor at Southern University in 2014.
Southern University System board of supervisors voted Friday not to renew Baton Rouge chancellor James Llorens’ contract when it expires June 30.
Llorens was successful in making numerous improvements at the Louisiana institution. Under his leadership, enrollment on the campus increased, and most notably freshman enrollment rose from 743 in fall of 2012 to 1,115 in 2013.
Southern-Baton Rouge (SUBR) is the flagship school in the five-campus Southern University System, the only historically Black university system in the country.
Llorens took the helm amid serious financial and academic setbacks in July 2011. The following year, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed Southern-Baton Rouge on probation for not providing adequate records on its compliance with academic standards. But Llorens’ staff produced the required data and SACS lifted the probation in June 2013.
System president Ron Mason told Diverse he favored keeping Llorens’ at SUBR ― with conditions. “My recommendation was to extend his contract for one year under certain conditions and by July 1 to make recommendations to the board to address those issues.”
Mason said the conditions involved developing a plan to improve operations on the campus and to have an assessment from the system about how the improvements were working.
“The chancellor did not agree to those conditions. When he did not agree, the board rejected my recommendations,” Mason said, adding, “My job is to recommend and the board’s job is to decide. They decided.” The vote was 9-6 against renewing Llorens’ current three-year contract which originally paid $270,000 per year.
Most people who know will tell you that Llorens didn’t do all that bad a job as Southern’s chancellor, and the complaints folks had about him weren’t necessarily the products of his mismanagement more than just reflections of what’s always been true there.
And Llorens had been a deputy CAO for the city-parish under Broome’s predecessor Kip Holden. So he does have relevant experience to the job at hand, which he’s taking on as an interim, short-term thing. What he really is doing is allowing Broome to do damage control after the Bell disaster, but Llorens, as a short-timer, isn’t exactly going to be a chief administrative officer who establishes and implements a vision or anything like that. He’ll try to keep the trains running on time, so to speak, for a few weeks and then he’s back to his retirement porch.