John Lombardi (Photo Credit: The Daily Reveille)
John Lombardi (Photo Credit: The Daily Reveille)
Ray Lamonica (Photo Credit: The Daily Reveille)
Ray Lamonica (Photo Credit: The Daily Reveille)

By Chris Grillot | LSU Student

Just before leaving their respective positions under pressure, LSU System President John Lombardi and System General Counsel Ray Lamonica wrote letters of appointment to select staff members in January 2012, providing each with an extended job protection.

The appointments designated the staffers as "key" employees and provided them with a notice of non-reappointment status, a one-year notice before they could be fired. For example, if a "key staff" member were to be terminated or replaced in January 2013, he or she would still have a job until January 2014.

This benefit is nonexistent for campus staff personnel, as opposed to faculty, according to the LSU Office of Human Resource Management.

Lombardi took care of himself, as well. Under his termination agreement, Lombardi, who was granted tenure in the LSU History Department as part of his original contract, is guaranteed a faculty position teaching at least one history class per semester for as long as he wishes at an annual salary just shy of a quarter of a million dollars.

In January 2012, Lombardi wrote "key staff" appointments for Sharyon Lipscomb, the LSU System's human resources director.

Lamonica wrote identical appointments for James E. Marchand, assistant to the general counsel; Tony Gonce, information systems auditor; Sonya McCoy, assistant director of internal audit; and Chad Brackin, director of internal audit.

These weren't the only times Lombardi provided favored aids with additional benefits.

In 2007, he included 12-month notices of termination in three other System staff members' employment contracts:

• Joe Corso, then-assistant vice president for advancement coordination;

• Michael Gargano Jr., then-vice president for student and academic support services;

• Wendy C. Simoneaux, chief financial officer and assistant vice president for budget & finance and comptroller.

"It's not abnormal for people to ask for it in a contract and receive it, or if you're trying to get people to stay for a period of time," said Jim Purcell, the Louisiana Board of Regents commissioner of higher education. Purcell did not return follow up calls requesting what percent of the Regents have such an appointment.

While the LSU System's bylaws allow for such exceptions to be made, no staff members of LSU's campus have this benefit, according LSU Office of Human Resource Management.

The System's concessions mimic the required 12-month notice in LSU's non-tenured faculty's contracts. Since 2008, campus budget cuts forced administrators to issue notices of non-reappointment to the non-tenured faculty.

These incidents "highlighted" the need to protect some System staff, as they do not have notices built in to their contracts, Lamonica said.

Why only certain people were chosen for taxpayer-funded perks is not something Lamonica would discuss, citing them as personnel matters not appropriate for public discussion. But he added Lombardi made the decisions for appointment after evaluations and consultations with staff members.

Lombardi did not respond to requests for comment.

The Board of Supervisors fired Lombardi in April 2012. Lamonica left shortly after in September 2012.

During his time at the university, Lombardi taught one history class each semester but has been on sabbatical since his termination, though he remains a tenured faculty member in the Department of History.

Upon his return from sabbatical, Lombardi is expected to assume teaching duties as a Boyd Professor of History, reaping a $218,073 salary.