The longest-serving member of the state Board of Regents resigned Monday under pressure from Gov. Bobby Jindal, giving the administration an opportunity to appoint a minority member to a panel that has drawn heavy criticism, and a lawsuit, for its all-white makeup.
With no racial minorities and just four women among its 15 gubernatorial appointees, the Regents were sued last month by a group of Southern University System students for allegedly running afoul of a state constitutional requirement that the board “should be representative of the state’s population by race and gender to ensure diversity.”
Although District Judge Tim Kelley refused to issue an injunction halting the merger study, Teepell [Timmt Teepell, the governor’s chief of staff] said the “diversity issue” was a major factor in asking Toups if he was willing to step aside.
Toups is the president and chief executive of Turner Industries, a Baton Rouge industrial construction firm that has been the target of a federal civil rights suit alleging that the company discriminates against black workers. Turner Industries has denied the discrimination claims, and said the company intends to defend itself against the charges.