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.

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

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

As Georgia’s first lady, Sandra Deal has read to more than 850 classes
As Georgia’s first lady, Sandra Deal has read to more than 850 classes

Sandra Deal is Georgia’s first lady and a former teacher. She wrote this piece in anticipation of Georgia Pre-K Week, Oct. 1-5.  By Sandra Deal  One of the things that I will miss most when my husband Nathan leaves public office is traveling around the state and reading to children. It has been a privilege for me to have the opportunity...
Errors in financial, housing red tape can snarl first day on campus
Errors in financial, housing red tape can snarl first day on campus

The fall semester often begins with familiar complaints from some students and parents on many college campuses. The school didn’t properly process the student’s financial paperwork. The college erred and the student has nowhere to live on campus. This year was no different for some metro Atlanta campuses. More than 150 Clark Atlanta University...
DeKalb Schools: Recent departures highlight administrative turnover
DeKalb Schools: Recent departures highlight administrative turnover

The DeKalb County School District has confirmed in the last two weeks two departures from the superintendent’s staff cabinet, high-ranking officials in charge of key departments. Chief of Staff Ramona Tyson will be stepping into a new role with the school board, according to an announcement during the Sept. 10 DeKalb County Board of Education...
School systems find inexpensive safety alternatives
School systems find inexpensive safety alternatives

Not all aspects of school safety have to be expensive. That’s the message some local schools are sending out as districts across the state and country focus on that topic. Although technology such as cameras and key-card entry systems, and highly trained personnel such as police officers and counselors require a considerable amount of funding...
Schools try to thwart a troubling trend: childhood suicide
Schools try to thwart a troubling trend: childhood suicide

Doris Adhuze saw no signs on April 21, 2017, that her son planned to take his life. Jovany, she said, was a black teen from a two-parent household known for high-fiving friends and teachers, and quietly buying lunch for students who needed one. Still, she found him hanging from a coat hook on his closet door about 10 minutes after the 13-year-old arrived...
More Stories