LSU reached outside of academia Wednesday to select a leader for its expanded civil rights and Title IX office and directed him to improve the campus community for students, staff and faculty.
Todd Manuel, currently the vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion transformation with the Edison Electric Institute, will become a university vice president to handle all allegations of discrimination on LSU campuses, regardless of their basis.
“When I think about the great work that is happening here at LSU and the desire to be a global force for change, I couldn’t think of a better place to be to deliver the type of work that I have been engaged in for much of my career,” Manuel said in a statement. The university did not make Manuel available for interviews.
LSU struggled through several high-profile sexual harassment cases in recent years, and an outside review criticized the school for essentially having just two people dedicated to handling claims under Title IX, the federal law targeting gender-based discrimination at educational institutions.
Manuel, who is also the director of organizational health and diversity at Entergy, is expected to have 18 employees at LSU, and his duties will include overseeing initiatives that ensure students from historically underrepresented populations matter and belong in the LSU community.
“He has a strong background in diversity, equity and inclusion, along with a legal knowledge to understand and interpret Title IX laws and policies to better help our students, faculty and staff,” LSU president William F. Tate IV said. “Todd brings the leadership and experience needed to build a true national model for an integrated approach for inclusion, civil rights and Title IX.”
During his time with EEI, the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies, Manuel has also served as the director of Organizational Health & Diversity for Entergy.
Manuel graduated from LSU in 1995 and has a law degree from Southern. He received an executive certificate in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion from Georgetown University in 2020.
He and two other finalists had on-campus interviews last month. He spoke of changing behavior as a means to improving the campus environment.
“When I look at the office of inclusion, civil rights and Title IX, bringing these three components together really makes sense,” Manuel said. “It makes sense because the common thread that runs through all three of these offices and that’s equity.”
“My approach to that is to understand the complexities of what we’re dealing with and bringing together stakeholders to create a solution process where we’re actually addressing behavioral change,” he said. “When you drive behavioral change, you’re actually making progress.”
After a 2020 outpouring of complaints over how LSU handled complaints of sexual misconduct on campus, the university commissioned the Husch Blackwell law firm to investigate. Their report faulted LSU, a campus with more than 30,000 students, for having only one investigator and another employee who took in complaints.
In March 2021, LSU established the Division of Inclusion, Civil Rights & Title IX. Jane Cassidy, a senior vice provost, served as interim vice president, and during her tenure LSU completed 17 of the 18 recommendations made by Husch Blackwell following its review of LSU’s Title IX processes.
The sole remaining recommendation is completion of a violence climate survey during the upcoming academic year.
“We thank Dr. Cassidy for her work in standing up the Division of Inclusion, Civil Rights & Title IX; bringing in quality staff; and helping to implement the Husch Blackwell recommendations across campus,” Tate said.
Cassidy will return to her previous role.
The other finalists for the vice presidency were Tanya Lowery, chief compliance officer and the interim chief diversity officer at The University of Texas Permian Basin, and Nicole Roberson, director of equal opportunity and diversity at the Texas A&M system.