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

Would merging U.S. education and labor agencies help or hurt?
Would merging U.S. education and labor agencies help or hurt?

Does a merger of the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor make sense or would it risk subjugating the needs of schools to the needs of industry? Cast as part of a larger government reorganization sought by the Trump White House, a merger would likely encounter congressional resistance. Past attempts to dissolve the education agency were rebuffed...
As property values rise, APS officials to recommend dropping tax rate
As property values rise, APS officials to recommend dropping tax rate

Atlanta Public Schools officials will recommend lowering the district’s millage rate after preliminary numbers showed a nearly 25 percent increase in property values on which the district collects taxes.  The APS millage rate currently is 21.74 mills. An $818 million general fund budget approved by the board on June 4 was based on the...
Atlanta college getting accounting help amid staff vacancies
Atlanta college getting accounting help amid staff vacancies

Atlanta Metropolitan State College has been getting assistance in recent months from the University System of Georgia and another college to help manage its financial paperwork, officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A report last year by the state’s Department of Audits and Accounts found numerous problems, such as the inability...
Georgia teacher says HOPE, pre-k program helped her reach new heights
Georgia teacher says HOPE, pre-k program helped her reach new heights

Georgia high school social studies teacher Lindsay McMichael is a vocal proponent of the state’s HOPE Scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs for a good reason. She participated in both as a 4-year-old growing up in Columbus and as a student at the University of Georgia. McMichael was one of the speakers at a ceremony Wednesday to celebrate...
DeKalb to debut early learning center for 3-year-old students
DeKalb to debut early learning center for 3-year-old students

Addressing continuing issues with student outcomes, the DeKalb County School District has set its sights on younger students to better prepare them for the educational environment. The district’s first Early Learning Academy will open in August, in time for the 2018-2019 school year. The district will be accepting members of the public for a...
More Stories