AAUP Letter to Kennesaw State


Below is the October 10, 2016 letter to the Kennesaw State Board of Regents from the AAUP:

Members of the faculty at Kennesaw State University have urged the American
Association of University Presidents to take an official interest in the issues of academic
governance raised by the recommendation of the board of regents’ Executive and
Compensation Committee to appoint Georgia attorney general Samuel Olens as
president of Kennesaw State University. These faculty members have expressed concern
that the apparent decision to forego a national search for the Kennesaw State presidency
is at odds with widely observed principles of academic governance, a concern that we

The Association’s interest in the role of the faculty in such matters as presidential
searches stems from our longstanding commitment to sound academic governance, the
principles of which are enunciated in the attached Statement on Government of Colleges
and Universities, originally formulated in conjunction with the American Council on
Education and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. The
Statement on Government rests on the premise of appropriately shared responsibility and
cooperative action among governing board, administration, and faculty. It refers to “an
inescapable interdependence” requiring “adequate communication among these
components and full opportunity for joint planning and effort.” While the statement
recognizes that “[t]he governing board of an institution of higher education in the
United States operates, with few exceptions, as the final institutional authority,” it also
recognizes that “the interests of all are coordinate and related and [that] unilateral effort
can lead to confusion or conflict.”

As one facet of the “interdependence” called for in the Statement on Government, the
document provides that “[j]oint effort of a most critical kind must be taken when an institution chooses a new president. The selection of a chief administrative officer
should follow upon cooperative search by the governing board and faculty.” The
statement, in emphasizing the shared responsibility of faculty and board in the selection
of a president, envisions the faculty’s playing an active role in the decision-making
process. Genuine faculty participation in the selection of a college president is likely to
enhance confidence in the final selection and thus offer greater promise of a successful

The AAUP’s derivative statement on Faculty Participation in the Selection, Evaluation, and
Retention of Administrators (also attached) adds the following procedural

The Statement on Government emphasizes the primary role of faculty and board in
the search for a president. The search may be initiated either by separate
committees of the faculty and board or by a joint committee of the faculty and
board or of faculty, board, students, and others, and separate committees may
subsequently be joined. In a joint committee, the numbers from each
constituency should reflect both the primacy of faculty concern and the range of
other groups, including students, that have a legitimate claim to some
involvement. Each major group should elect its own members to serve on the
committee, and the rules governing the search should be arrived at jointly. A
joint committee should determine the size of the majority which will be
controlling in making an appointment. When separate committees are used, the
board, with which the legal power of appointment rests, should either select a
name from among those submitted by the faculty committee or should agree that
no person will be chosen over the objections of the faculty committee.

In a letter to the board of regents, dated May 23, 2016, Professor Humayun Zafar, chair
of the faculty senate, and Professor Andrew Pieper, president of the local AAUP
chapter, outlined a proposal on how to include faculty in a search committee for the
new president. When reports began to surface in the news media indicating that Mr.
Olens was to be appointed without a national search, the faculty senate adopted a
resolution on August 29, 2016, calling upon Chancellor Henry M. Huckaby to advocate
for the inclusion of the faculty in a presidential search committee. On October 4,
Chancellor Huckaby announced the decision of the board committee to recommend Mr.
Olens for the Kennesaw State presidency to the full board.

While the decision of the regents to forego a national search may be permissible under
the applicable University System of Georgia policies, the decision is at odds with widely
observed principles of academic governance, as it deprives the faculty of its appropriate
role in the process. We urge the board of regents not to remove the faculty from the
process and instead to conduct a national search with full participation from the faculty.

Hans-Joerg Tiede, PhD
Associate Secretary
Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance

One thought on “AAUP Letter to Kennesaw State

  1. The AAUP is absolutely correct to focus in this letter on the glaring procedural violations of longstanding association principles and best practices in university governance. But it might also be mentioned that, as Inside Higher Ed reported, “As attorney general, Olens defended Georgia’s ban on same-sex marriage. And his office, on behalf of the state, joined in a lawsuit seeking to block the U.S. Education Department from applying Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to transgender students and ordering colleges and universities to provide bathroom facilities consistent with those students’ gender identities.

    “Leonard Witt, professor of communication at Kennesaw State, wrote an essay in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution outlining his concerns. He wrote that Kennesaw State could expect boycotts such as those that have hit North Carolina if Olens adopted policies he favored at the university. ‘Just see what is happening in North Carolina, where the state Legislature and governor passed laws opposing gender-neutral bathrooms. In North Carolina, sanctions are piecemeal around the whole state. Not so here. Kennesaw State University will be ground zero and there will be plenty of collateral damage,’ Witt wrote.

    “He added that, in a regular search, Olens could be welcome to apply — but he would be vetted through the process.”

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don't impersonate a real person.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s