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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Alumni's lawsuit undermines progress made by GSU president

Yet another lawsuit filed with Grambling University National Alumni Association President James Bradford as a plaintiff punctuates the unwillingness by the organization to resolve differences with the Grambling State University administration.

Such legal manuevering threatens to stall progress under way at the Lincoln Parish campus.

Filed in federal court, the lawsuit alleges mistreatment of employees and claims the university is being led in a negative direction.

To the contrary, progress under Grambling State President Horace Judson's direction is clear. ACT scores of students enrolling at the university are up. Graduation rates are climbing. The school received its first million-dollar chair in mathematics. New apartment-style dormitories are under construction.

Says University of Louisiana System member Mike Woods: "It's a shame with all the positive things going that you have a few disgruntled alums."

This is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by the alumni association since Judson was named to his post by the University of Louisiana System two years ago. Defendants include Judson, Grambling State Vice President of Finance Billy Owens, University of Louisiana System President Sally Clausen, the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors and the Louisiana Board of Regents.

Plaintiffs joining Bradford in the action include the Grambling mayor, other alumni and some former employees.

Such negativity commanding the spotlight takes the focus off more important issues and concerns affecting the day-to-day lives of students, including crowded campus housing. It also undermines efforts by Judson and his administrative team to provide effective leadership for the university that was stymied during the rotation of six presidents in a 10-year period.

The discord between Bradford and the school administration is no secret. The latest move by the alumni association follows two other recent lawsuits. One claimed wrongful termination of several former campus employees, many of whom were laid off during cash-strapped times following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The other was filed by Bradford against Judson's wife, alleging libel and slander.

To be sure, Grambling State's history and contribution to North Louisiana are too valuable to be compromised, and it seems senseless to prolong such conflict. Quick resolution is in order.

In his short tenure, Judson has demonstrated his interest in strengthening the school's foundation and shoring it up for the future. It is reasonable to expect the same from one of the campus' main advocates, its alumni association.

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