Louisiana Board of Regents names interim commissioner of High Education

BATON ROUGE - Following the controversial resignation of the former commissioner, Sally Clausen on July 1st, the Board has been looking for a suitable replacement for the position. Clausen retired for a day and then was rehired which netted her a lump payment of $90,000 in accrued vacation and sick leave time. The interim commissioner, Tom Layzell,72, is a former Kentucky and Mississippi college leader.

Regents Personnel Committee Chairwoman Maurice Durbin said Layzell brings great experience and an likeable personality to the job.

Layzell said his top priority is to implement the newly enacted LA GRAD Act that would allow public colleges and universities to raise tuition by 10 percent as early as next month. The LA GRAD Act agreements require that a school meet specific performance goals and requirements to apply to raise tuition rates in the fall.

Layzell said the new law is a landmark in Louisiana for “linking performance with budgets.”

Layzell will receive a pro-rated $318,000 pay package, which includes a $1,500 a month housing allowance. Clausen’s pay package was $425,000, but she had volunteered to cut her salary to $199,000 because of state budget cuts and layoff before she instead decided to resign.

Layzell is a lawyer by training. He said he got into higher education in Illinois almost on a whim when applying for a job in 1966 as an administrative assistant and budget associate. He said he has no interest in the commissioner job beyond the interim.

“They need someone younger who’s going to be here a lot longer,” he said.

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