- The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the selection of former Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens as the next president of Kennesaw State University without a formal search or solicitation of campus input.
- Olens, a critic of gay rights, has drawn the rebuke of faculty and students who say the selection ignores the traditional academic process of finding a campus leader, and will change the composition of the school's efforts to move towards progressive climate for LGBT students.
- Three faculty members, all female and with expressed interest in applying for the presidency, say that the non-advertised position and appointment cements a belief that system leaders and legislators only believed a white male with connections to Georgia influencers would be fit for the job.
The conversation at Kennesaw State again underscores the need for diversity and the building of racial tolerance at all levels of academe. But there is a deeper issue in Georgia, and throughout the nation, on the subject of appointments being made without formal searches.
The growing culture in system and legislative circles is to bring in leadership with prior experience or connection to governance, as we've seen at Florida State University and other campuses. While there is distinct strategy in this leadership targeting, and logic in expediting the headhunting and appointment process, there will always be opposition from faculty and student audiences. And for system leaders, the process has to be a consideration of if these audiences have enough clout in media or with external communities to make the controversy a short-term headache, or a long-term injury to institutional culture.