Rick Brewer

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Richard Bennett "Rick"
Brewer, Jr.

9th permanent President of Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana
Incumbent
Assumed office 
April 7, 2015
Preceded by Argile Asa Smith, Jr. (interim for Joe Aguillard)

Born April 19, 1956
New Orleans, Louisiana,
Nationality American
Political party Republican[1]
Spouse(s) Catherine W. "Cathy" Brewer

Children:
Jason and Jonathan D. Brewer

Residence Pineville, Rapides Parish, Louisiana
Alma mater Charleston Southern University

University of South Carolina

Religion Southern Baptist

Richard Bennett Brewer, Jr., known as Rick Brewer (born April 19, 1956),[2] is the ninth president[3] of the Southern Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana. He succeeded the interim president Argile Asa Smith, Jr., on April 7, 2015, who filled in for eight months following the resignation in 2014 of the embattled former president, Joe Aguillard.[4]

Background

Brewer is the oldest of three sons of the former Frances Dike (born December 12, 1936) and the Reverend Richard Brewer, Sr. (July 15, 1934 – September 7, 1990), who is interred at the Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery in Edgefield, South Carolina, where he was the pastor from 1972 to 1975.[5] Brewer was born in New Orleans, where his parents lived while the senior Brewer studied at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.[6]

Reared primarily in North Carolina, Brewer received both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration from Charleston Southern University, a Baptist liberal arts institution founded in 1964 and located in North Charleston, South Carolina. He then attended the University of South Carolina in the capital city of Columbia, South Carolina|Columbia]], at which he obtained the Ph.D. in educational administration. He also did post-graduate studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.[6]

Brewer previously resided in Summerville in Dorchester County, South Carolina, where he was a deacon at Summerville Baptist Church,[6] and Ladson, South Carolina; Eatonton in Putnam County in central Georgia, and Lewisville in Forsyth County in west central North Carolina, specific dates unavailable.[7]

Brewer and his wife, Catherine W. "Cathy" Brewer (born November 1, 1956), have two adult sons, Jason and Jonathan.[6]

Career

Brewer was previously an administrator for twenty-eight years at his alma mater, Charleston Southern University. He was the director for external relations, assistant to the president, interim director of athletics, and vice president for student affairs, athletics, and planning. He worked to double enrollment at Charleston Southern from 1,600 to more than 3,400, improve freshmen retention from 50 to 78 percent, to boost endowments,[8] and helped to raise $50 million in student scholarships.[6] Trustees voted unanimously to name Brewer as the Louisiana College president and with a five-year contract which began on April 7, 2015. Brewer referred to the unanimous vote on his behalf "a statement. We believe God brought the right man at such a time as this. ... We're going to learn from the past, but not dwell there."[8] Brewer has been an evaluator for the accrediting body the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He will tap his SACS experience to return LC to full accreditation. LC was placed on probation in June 2014 and had been under warning status for the preceding two years as well. Brewer said that his "3 R"s for LC will be "relational", relevant, and rigorous," meaning the promotion of nurturing relationships among students, faculty, staff, coaches and administration and partnerships with local businesses, the community, alumni, and Louisiana Baptists.[8]

Brewer's arrival on campus ended much of the controversy stemming from the Aguillard years. Two bloggers who had worked to expose questionable practices under Aguillard, Drew Wales and Joshua Breland, have left the institution to pursue graduate studies elsewhere. The two said that they believed their activities set the framework to improve the academic climate at the college.[9]

In a 2015 address before Rotary International in Alexandria, Brewer said that LC seeks to engage students in their own learning. Instruction, he suggested, should incorporate the arts within the technical fields. Future classes, he said, will have less lecture and more discussion or practice sessions: "We must be finding new and creative ways to bring students and educate them."[10] In December 2015, Brewer announced that LC's accreditation had been restored by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. "This means our accreditation is no longer in question. It means we can continue to advance the college and its vision and mission. ... It means we have met the standards," Brewer said.[11] In the fall semester, 2016, LC had a 14.5 percent increase in first-time students. President Brewer said that the numbers were "trending in the right direction." The college enrolled 255 new freshmen and 61 transfer students; overall enrollment was 1,126, the first in five years to show growth in the number of new students.[12]

Legal issues

Aguillard suits

In September 2016, former LC President Aguillard alleged in a suit in state district court that he is fighting a "civil conspiracy" by Louisiana College to commit assault and battery, to inflict emotional distress, and breach of contract. On October 6, 2017, he not only lost his suit in state court but was ordered by Judge Monique Rauls to pay nearly $18,000 in arbitration fees to LC.[13]

In late May 2017, Louisiana College filed a civil suit seeking unspecified damages for defamation against former President Joe Aguillard, who it alleges "engaged in a regular and pervasive campaign to undercut" the institution including "ghostwriting faculty member grievances" against the administration. The suit cites an "anonymous package" reportedly circulated by Aguillard of "derogatory statements" about the college. Individual plaintiffs include President Brewer and Cheryl Clark, whose title is unspecified. Aguillard accuses Clark of having illegally changed the final grades of more than "a dozen nursing students."[14]

Then on December 27, 2017, former Aguillard again filed suit against LC, this time in the Alexandria-based United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. He contends that LC discriminated against him for "disability" since his heart attack and quadruple by-pass surgery in 2011. When Aguillard left the college presidency in 2014, he cited health issues as a factor. After a year as president emeritus, he became a tenured faculty member in the LC graduate teacher education program. Aguillard also claims religious discrimination because he contends that his permanent successor, Rick Brewer, is a Calvinist, a claim which Brewer repudiates. Aguillard is seeking a jury trial and "all of the relief" to which he claims he is owed, including back-pay and front-pay. James T. Trimble, the presiding judge in the suit, was assigned after Dee Drell recused himself.[15]

Jewish heritage suit

On a separate matter, Brewer on February 21, 2018, was sued in the United States District Court by a former LC graduate, Joshua Bonadona (born October 20. 1989), who was an unsuccessful applicant for a position at LC as assistant football coach. Bonadona converted from Judaism to Christianity while he was an LC student. He contends that Brewer discriminated against him in the coach selection process because of Bonadona's Jewish heritage. Bonadona's lawyer said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 offers legal protection at private colleges to Jews facing discrimination. Formerly of Baton Rouge, Bonadona instead took a lower-paying position as assistant coach at Hendrix College in Conway in Faulkner County, Arkansas. Bonadona said that he was told by head football coach Justin Charles (born July 21, 1982) that Brewer had rejected Bonadona's application because of Bonadona's Jewish background. Brewer himself denies any anti-Semitism. The suit, he said, had led to his having been unfairly "vilified and determined guilty by certain persons from across the nation."[16]

Dr. Carolyn Spears suit

In March 2018, Carolyn Spears (born c. 1941), a faculty member and administrator in physical education and teacher education at LC since 1977, who was tenured in 1984, filed suit in the United States District Court in Alexandria regarding her dismissal on grounds alleged age, gender, disability, and non-Calvinist religious beliefs. She claims retaliation while she underwent apparently successful cancer treatment in 2016 in Houston, Texas. She claims that the college rejected her request for medical accommodation and cut her pay by $500 per month. The suit maintains that Brewer and Cheryl Clark, the vice president of academic affairs, conspired to "embarrass and humiliate" Spears into resigning from the faculty and alleges further that Clark "openly attacked" Spears and called the courses she taught a "joke" during a faculty meeting in April 2015 shortly after Brewer became the president.[17]

In a letter, Brewer claimed the college paid Spears a full salary for two years "without her ever teaching a single student, although the college was not obligated to do so. LC cannot sustain such a practice, which has never been afforded any other faculty member." Spears denies that she was paid without teaching duties and instructed four hundred students while undergoing cancer treatments.[17]

Like former President Aguillard in his pending suit, Spears alleges in her lawsuit that Brewer is a "Calvinist." Aguillard had called Calvinism beyond the faith statement adopted by the Southern and Louisiana Baptist conventions. Brewer, however, again declared himself "neither a Calvinist or an Arminian, but a Baptist."[17]

References

  1. Richard Brewer, April 1956. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on December 8, 2016.
  2. rRichard Brewer. Mylife.com. Retrieved on Mach 2, 2018.
  3. He is the tenth president if the preceding interim president, Argile Asa Smith, Jr., is included.
  4. Leigh Guidry, "Louisiana College trustees consider new contract for Aguillard," March 2, 2014. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on March 3, 2014.
  5. Richard B. Brewer. Oldfindagrave.com. Retrieved on March 3, 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Brian Blackwell (March 6, 2015). Rick Brewer to lead Louisiana College. The Baptist Message. Retrieved on July 23, 2015.
  7. Richard B. Brewer. intelius.com. Retrieved on July 23, 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Leigh Guidry (March 25, 2015). LC board names South Carolina VP as ninth president. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on July 23, 2015.
  9. Leigh Guidry (April 18, 2015). Student bloggers have moved on from La. College. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on July 23, 2015.
  10. Leigh Guidry (July 28, 2015). How is LC making its education ‘relevant’?. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on July 29, 2015.
  11. Leigh Guidry (December 9, 2015). Louisiana College off probation. What's next?. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on December 11, 2015.
  12. Miranda Klein (September 7, 2016). La. College reports enrollment gains for the first time in 5 years. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on February 22, 2017.
  13. Leigh Guidry (October 19, 2017). Judge dismisses former president's claims against Louisiana College. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on February 16, 2018.
  14. Louisiana College files civil suit against former president Joe Aguillard for defamation. KALB-TV (May 31, 2017). Retrieved on June 2, 2017.
  15. Leigh Guidry (January 4, 2018). Former LC president suing college again. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on February 5, 2018.
  16. LC president denies not man over Jewish heritage. The Alexandria Town Talk (February 28, 2018). Retrieved on March 3, 2018.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Miranda Klein (March 21, 2018). Another federal lawsuit against Louisiana College alleges discrimination. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on March 23, 2018.