Weathering a Presidential Pseudo-Search

Politics and presidential appointments in higher education.
By Andrew Pieper

In recent years, assaults on higher education have come from every direction. From decreases in Pell Grants to the dismantling of tenure in Wisconsin, from professor watch lists to cuts in federal research grants and state funding, the very idea of public higher education is under assault. Another recent trend eroding the principles of academic freedom and faculty governance is the appointment of nonacademics to lead colleges and universities. At Kennesaw State University, a public institution in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Sam Olens, most recently attorney general of Georgia, assumed the presidency on November 1, 2016. His appointment encapsulates this recent trend and provides a case study for how such appointments will likely play out over the coming years. The KSU chapter of the American Association of University Professors played an active role in opposing the violations of academic governance that occurred during the presidential appointment process. Our experiences may provide a lesson for those AAUP chapters and other faculty bodies that will inevitably face further violations of governance norms.

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Andrew Pieper is associate professor of political science and undergraduate coordinator of the political science program at Kennesaw State University. He has served on the executive committee of the Kennesaw State AAUP chapter since 2010 and is currently serving a two-year term as chapter president. His e-mail address is apieper1@kennesaw.edu.

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