- Kennesaw State University and the University of West Florida are the latest institutions to draw heavy criticism for their efforts to appoint politicians as presidents, according to a report from Inside Higher Ed.
- While just 2% of active college presidents were appointed after holding political office, the consideration seems to be a growing practice among university boards seeking experience beyond academe.
- Political backgrounds typically are a point of contention for faculty groups on campuses, who fear the politicization of offices and campuses.
Baylor University and Florida State University are two high profile institutions to have contended with fallout from presidential hires with political ties, and while boards should consider all of the angles of such hires beyond legislative lobbying power, it is the presidents themselves who will confront the greatest amount of strife from students and faculty.
The ideal circumstance is for institutions to cultivate knowledgeable and accessible leadership, but if a political hire is the objective, the goal for all involved in the appointment and installation process is to address stakeholder concerns about the strategy behind the hire. Faculty, students and alumni should be made aware that an open and transparent search could not or would not yield the same kind of benefits in fundraising, resource cultivation and media relations that a seasoned politician would create for the position.