Gov. Edwards adds Laurie Lipsey Aronson to LSU board, bringing the number of women to 3

Appointment follows governor’s acknowledgment that he should have appointed more women

LSU
LSU Clock Tower (Photo by Julie O'Donoghue / Louisiana Illuminator)

Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed Laurie Lipsey Aronson to the LSU Board of Supervisors Wednesday, bringing the total of women on the 16-member board up to three.  

Earlier this month, a reporter asked Edwards if an investigative report detailing LSU’s systemic indifference to violence and sexual violence against women made him regret not having appointed more women to the board that oversees the university system.  “Looking at it today, I wish I had,” Edward said. “That board does not represent the gender diversity that it should,”he said. “Especially in light of what’s been transpiring over the last few weeks.”

Aronson is the chairwoman and CEO of Lipsey’s, LLC, an independently owned firearms distributor in Baton Rouge. She is also the president and CEO of Haspel, a men’s clothing store.

Aronson is the daughter of Richard Lipsey, a big donor to LSU, a former chair of the Louisiana Board of Regents and an outspoken critic of F. King Alexander when he was president at LSU.  The Board of Regents coordinates all public higher education in Louisiana. 

Edwards announced Aronson as his replacement for Ronald Anderson, who had been on the Board of Supervisors since 2009 and whom Edwards had allowed to remain on the board after his most recent term expired on June 1.

The low representation of women on LSU’s board had received the most attention because LSU is the state’s flagship university and because LSU is currently under fire for not seriously taking allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence involving women victims.  However, as a recent report from the Illuminator noted, the boards of all the state’s university systems are underrepresented by women.

Edwards’ appointment of Aronson to the LSU board means that women make up three of the 16 board members. (The student representative to the board is the only member not appointed by the governor.) Three women serve on the board for the Southern University System, a board that has 16 members total. On the Louisiana Community & Technical College System’s 17-member Board of Supervisors, there are four women.  The University of Louisiana System’s 16-member Board of Supervisors has five women.

Merrill Schwartz, senior vice president of content strategy and development at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, said in a March 22 interview that across the country, women account for 32 percent of people who’ve been appointed to such boards. None of the boards of the state’s university systems boards even reaches that average. At 31 percent, the UL system board comes closest.

But speaking specifically of LSU, Schwartz said, “two out of 16 sounds like it’s low.”

Shauna Sanford, communications director for Gov. Edwards’ office, said in a March 22 statement that “the boards are now more diverse both racially and when it comes to gender than during the prior administration.”

“However, as (the governor) has expressed, there are not enough women currently serving. And he understands the need for more gender diversity in light of recent events and will be aware of that going forward.”

 Aronson will serve as an at-large member of the board. Her term is set to expire June 1, 2026.