I am not only surprised, but really disappointed to read about the most unreasonable decision by the Board of Regents of the University Systems of Georgia to appoint Attorney General Sam Olens as the new President of the Kennesaw State University. He does not have any experience or educational background even to become the department head of any community college, unless somebody bypasses all the usual procedures to select a president of any state or private university as stated by columnist Tom Crawford’s column “Politics all about connections” published Oct. 19.
I started my career in Georgia in 1997 by becoming an adjunct faculty in Kennesaw State University in 1997. Being new to this country and Georgia, I did not know anybody who could recommend me for that teaching job if I had no previous teaching experience or the minimum required educational qualifications from an accredited university of this country.
After checking my educational credentials and finding it satisfied the minimum requirement, Mr. Merle King, had of the Computer Science Department of Kennesaw State, asked me to give him the contact phone number of a reference who could provide positive feedback about my skills needed to teach CS courses. I provided the phone number of the director of the International Students Services of the University of Evansville, from where I graduated in 1988. It was only when she gave a positive feedback about my teaching skills did I get a job.
If the Board of Regents will not revoke this appointment and appoint a new president of Kennesaw State — which has been consolidated with Georgia Southern Polytechnic State University — and follow the usual procedures to select a new qualified and experienced person, the future of these two great institutions would be greatly affected. It would undermine the integrity of not only the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia but the whole higher educational system of Georgia. Universities all over the world follow this example and the concept of merit would go down the drain.
I would request Gov. Nathan Deal to cancel this appointment immediately and order the Chancellor of the Board of regents to follow the usual procedure of selecting a president of Kennesaw State.
This appointment would prove the concept that in getting the top position in a public institution, it is not what you know — your educational background and working experience — that counts but “who you know.”
Why bother to waste time and energy to get the terminal degree and spend more than a decade in various teaching positions, a few years as a department head, then a few years as dean before you can aspire for the post of the president of any university? Just work on the building your PR with the “right” official.
Syed Riaz Ahmed