Lsu Health Sciences Center Chancellor Resigns Amid Criticism

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The chancellor of the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans is resigning.

LSU issued a statement Thursday evening stating that Larry Hollier was stepping down immediately. His departure follows release of an audit report that was harshly critical of some practices at the center.

The report, according to The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate, includes findings that Hollier tried to pad a colleague’s salary while seeking a pay raise for the colleague's son and others in his inner circle. It also said he fired three top employees without properly checking out complaints against them. There have also been accusations in a lawsuit against Hollier and the center that women were underpaid.

The newspaper reported that Hollier penned drafts of responses highly critical of the audit but ultimately sent a more muted seven-page response to LSU's chief auditor, Chad Brackin. In it, he briefly denied the main findings and said, “Your report gave me a reason to pause, reflect and find room for improvement."

LSU announced Friday evening that the dean of medicine at the center, Dr. Steve Nelson, was appointed interim chancellor. He is expected to remain in that role for 12 to 18 months “to stabilize the institution while focusing on modernizing the university’s financials, reinvigorating its clinical partnerships and refocusing its research portfolio.” A national search for a new chancellor is planned after that, the statement said.

Hollier was named chancellor less than three months after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He was credited for pushing lawmakers to maintain funding levels for medical research and faculty and helped usher through plans to close Charity Hospital after Katrina and to build the new University Medical Center.

But his reputation began to suffer as current and former employees raised concerns with auditors and in court. Plaintiffs in a 2019 lawsuit included Meredith Cunningham, a former staff attorney, and Katherine Muslow, the institution’s former general counsel.

They alleged Hollier underpaid women for years, citing a study that showed, by one measure, that the median salary for top male administrators exceeded that for their female counterparts by almost $70,000.

Muslow and Cunningham alleged they were fired as they pursued legal action. In court papers, LSU denied wrongdoing on Hollier’s part.