KSU faculty, students want more transparency in presidential search

Several Kennesaw State University faculty members and students pressed at a town hall meeting Monday afternoon for greater transparency in the search for the school’s next president.

The hour-long meeting included pleas for the names of candidates and that top candidates visit KSU to meet students and faculty before a finalist is chosen by the Georgia Board of Regents.

Sam Olens resigned as KSU’s president earlier this month after a rocky 16-month tenure. Olens, who was Georgia’s attorney general before the Board of Regents hired him to lead KSU, was the only candidate for the job then. Olens did not meet with students and faculty before he was hired.

VIDEO: Previous coverage of this issue

Search committee members have thus far decided to keep the names of potential candidates confidential. Many who spoke at Monday’s meeting said more transparency is necessary, citing the process of Olens’ hiring.

The committee hopes to recommend finalists to the Board of Regents by May.

The high degree of concern about the process was evident as the first two speakers during the question-and-answer part of Monday’s meeting suggested KSU’s president had already been picked.

“Do I get to talk to (the finalist)?,” asked KSU senior Edmund Tella. “If we don’t get to do that, I can promise you they will have an uphill battle.”

Laurie Wilder, president of Parker Executive Search, the firm hired to help KSU find its next president, said many potential candidates will be reluctant to apply for the job if their names are shared with the public, for fear of jeopardizing their current employment status.

“If I am going to be exposed, I cannot be a candidate,” Wilder said she’s heard in other searches.

Others disagreed with Wilder, saying finalists for prior KSU presidential searches were hired for other jobs.

KSU management professor Doug Moodie, who chairs the presidential search and screen committee, said he would share the requests for names of candidates and other concerns with the Board of Regents.

KSU has undergone major changes in recent years, including the merger with Southern Polytechnic State University. It has about 35,000 students, the third-largest enrollment in Georgia.

Speakers at Monday’s meeting said they want a president with academic experience, a background in research, someone who’s done work engaging with minority communities and who has proven he or she can raise money.

About 40 people attended Monday’s meeting. A second town hall meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at KSU’s Marietta campus.


The AJC's Eric Stirgus keeps you updated on the latest happenings in higher education affecting metro Atlanta and Georgia. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in state and local education. Subscribe to myAJC.com.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Education

Roswell student disciplined for ‘whites only’ water fountain sign
Roswell student disciplined for ‘whites only’ water fountain sign

A Roswell High School student was disciplined after school officials said he posted signs above two hall water fountains -- one sign read “whites only” and the second said “other.”  Roswell principal Robert Shaw wrote in a letter to the school community that the Thursday incident was brought to his attention by a student...
Cobb students ask school board for leniency in walkout discipline
Cobb students ask school board for leniency in walkout discipline

Several Cobb County students who walked out of school to protest gun violence asked the school board Thursday to be lenient when doling out punishments and expressed disappointment with the district’s response to their demonstration. Neither the board nor Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, who was awarded a one-year contract extension at the same...
Few metro Atlanta students disciplined so far after walkouts
Few metro Atlanta students disciplined so far after walkouts

Five DeKalb high schoolers received a one-day suspension for continuing to demonstrate after a 17-minute Wednesday walkout to protest gun violence ended. The disciplinary action is the first punishment connected to the walkouts reported by a metro Atlanta school district. Students in Cobb and Gwinnett were warned that they would be punished for...
Gwinnett County Public Schools releases graduation schedule
Gwinnett County Public Schools releases graduation schedule

To the relief of parents throughout Gwinnett County, the school system released the schedule for graduations today. With 22 high schools, coordinating the ceremonies for the expected 12,000 graduates was no small feat. Running from May 21 to 26, the majority of the events will be at the Infinite Energy Center with the rest at the respective high schools...
Cobb’s resistance to national walkout met with student resolve
Cobb’s resistance to national walkout met with student resolve
Cobb’s stance on Wednesday’s national student walkout brought the world to its door – although that door was shut to media attempting to cover how students fared in a system that vowed punishment for participating.  Below, I share two accounts by Cobb students providing a glimpse of how the district discouraged students from...
More Stories