AgCenter researcher, reinstated after Title IX findings, applies for full professorship

The LSU AgCenter building in Baton Rouge. (File photo)

An LSU AgCenter researcher at the center of a Title IX scandal has applied for promotion to full professor, university officials confirm.

It’s the latest development in the curious case of Niranjahn Baisakh, who was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting a female graduate research assistant in an escalating series of incidents from 2014 to 2016. Following a Title IX investigation, it was determined there was credible evidence to support the allegations.

Despite those findings, Baisakh was not removed from the faculty. Rather, his academic tenure was “paused” for three years—a highly unorthodox sanction, during which time he was prohibited from working with graduate students but allowed to remain at the AgCenter as a researcher.

In March 2020, Baisakh’s tenure was reinstated by then AgCenter Vice President Bill Richardson, and he was again allowed to resume working with graduate students—until Daily Report filed a public records request earlier this spring about the case, at which time he was placed on paid leave pending the outcome of a review.

Following the review, Baisakh was reinstated in July as a tenured researcher with associate professor status. More recently, he has “put in his papers,” as the process is called, for promotion to full professor, which, if granted, would automatically increase his salary and also enhance his perks and prestige within the university.

LSU officials decline to comment except to confirm that Baisakh has applied for the promotion.

LSU interim vice president for civil rights and Title IX, Jane Cassidy, also declines to comment, according to a university spokesperson.

Just because Baisakh, a prolific researcher who has brought lucrative research grants to his department, has put in for full professor, does not mean it will automatically be granted, according to LSU Faculty Senate member Kevin Cope, who served for years as that body’s president.

The approval process takes months. First, a committee within Baisakh’s department reviews the application. Then, it goes to the full faculty of the department and continues up the academic hierarchy until it is approved by the provost and the president, the university’s No. 2 administrator.

Cope says Baisakh’s case is one for the books and has defied traditional academic norms every step of the way. That the researcher is now applying to become a full professor, shows an amazing audacity, he says, not to mention that it’s “not exactly the best demonstration of taste and public relations.”