LSU Medical School Chancellor 'Ignored Complaints,' Now on Leave

Marcia Frellick

April 26, 2021

The chancellor of the Louisiana State University (LSU) medical school in Shreveport, Ghali E. Ghali, MD, DDS, is on administrative leave while LSU investigates allegations that he suppressed students' sexual harassment complaints and disciplined faculty who supported the students, according to news reports.

Several news outlets have reported that four employee complaints – two from physicians — were filed April 12 with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The complaints, which are not available to the public, allege that a former administrator inappropriately touched 16 female medical students and spoke inappropriately to them.

The Louisiana Daily News says that allegations also include that the head of admissions required that female students write book reports on pornographic stories. Both of those accused administrators announced their retirement shortly after the allegations surfaced, according to the same report.

The Associated Press also described allegations of retaliation for professors who sided with the students.

According to the AP, "[T]he complaints allege that two professors were denied promotions and a third was demoted and became the target of an official investigation because they supported the students."

In one complaint, assistant professor and director for academic affairs at LSU Health Shreveport Christi Rinaudo, EdD, said, "I have witnessed and been informed about numerous incidents of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliatory actions perpetrated by Dr Ghali and both other members of senior leadership with his knowledge and support," the Louisiana Daily News reported.

Rinaudo did not respond to Medscape's request for further comment.

And LSU interim President Tom Galligan emailed this statement to LSU Health Shreveport employees: "We have been made aware of several EEOC allegations against LSU Health Shreveport. In light of this, we believe the right thing to do is to place Chancellor Ghali on administrative leave until a thorough review is conducted," the Daily News reported.

The contract for Ghali, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who has been the chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport since 2016, is up this December. David Lewis, MD, MBA, dean of the LSU School of Medicine, was named acting chancellor.

Ghali released a statement on April 13, saying: "I am proud of our tremendously qualified team that reflects the diversity of the students we serve. We have consistently elevated female voices to positions of power across our campus, and I continue to believe our model should serve as an example for the rest of the LSU system.

"Yesterday, members of the media reported alleged claims against LSU Health Shreveport. On April 7, I received written notice the Title IX review of these same allegations was complete. The investigation did not find sufficient evidence to support any Title IX concern."

Title IX is a US civil rights law passed in 1972 to prohibit sex-based discrimination in any school that receives federal money. 

"I am confident in a positive outcome of any subsequent review," adds Ghali. "Still, considering the current system-wide controversy at LSU, I agreed to take a temporary administrative leave of absence during this review and return to campus upon its completion."

Claims That Historical Complaints Were Ignored

In November, USA Today published a report that LSU mishandled claims or took no action after at least nine LSU football players were reported for sexual misconduct or dating violence at the school since 2016.

LSU hired law firm Husch Blackwell to investigate the claims, and the law firm released a scathing report in March that described widespread mishandling of student rape allegations, domestic violence and assault, and sexual harassment reported to university officials on the main campus in Baton Rouge. Some claims were entirely ignored, according to the Associated Press.

Included in that report was an admonishment that, "There was a lack of effective leadership at the University with respect to Title IX."

Marcia Frellick is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has previously written for the Chicago Tribune, Science News and and was an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times. Follow her on Twitter at @mfrellick

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