*This is an update to yesterday’s story on Kennesaw State and its new President, former State Attorney General Sam Olens*
Many Kennesaw State University professors who were once vocal in opposition to Attorney General Sam Olens being named the school’s new president were silent this week, but professor Susan Raines isn’t dropping her crusade to reverse the decision.
Raines, a professor of conflict management, plans to attack the decision from several angles, including public pressure and filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Olens, who was the only candidate for the job, will start work Nov. 1. Faculty and students protested online and in person at the Board of Regents meeting where Olens was selected.
Opposition to his hiring came from many quarters. Students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered were upset at his opposition to LBGT issues while he was attorney general.
Others worried that he was the only candidate, and a political insider as opposed to a career academic. That is why Raines sees the hiring as improper and possibly illegal.
“Absolutely. It was done mostly in secret, closed-door meetings and is clearly a political appointment from the Governor. It has the appearance of repayment for political favors done by Mr. Olens as Attorney General,” she said . “Mr. Olens does not remotely meet the minimum qualifications for a position as any university president.”
Raines attempted to apply herself. She insists only Olens was allowed to apply, violating Regents’ policy on hiring school presidents.
“They should understand that it will not end until Sam Olens steps down and a real search process is followed,” she said in response to an emailed list of questions. “While the Board of Regents can appoint someone, it cannot be done in secret, without accepting or considering all reasonable applicants. They cannot appoint someone unqualified.”
She said she is working with an attorney and will file her complaint with the EEOC on Monday.
Calls this week to other faculty members who had publicly expressed concern about Olens were mostly unreturned. Those who did answer declined to speak further on the issue.
Olens released a letter to KSU students and faculty after his hiring, promising to work with those who oppose him.
“I know that you have many questions about how I plan to lead this university. As president, I strongly believe in mutual respect, open communication, and tolerance ,” he said in the letter. “ The growth that has created many opportunities for our faculty, staff, and students, also comes with some challenges. We need to work together to find solutions that will enable Kennesaw State to continue to thrive.”
An online petition opposing Olens started by KSU students Lane Hunter and Sarah Rose had more than 16,600 signatures late Wednesday. Hunter and Rose were unhappy with Olens’ record on gay rights issues.
In the letter, Olens encourage those who question his leadership to approach him.
“I am not one to sit behind a desk, so get used to seeing me out and about on both campuses. If you see me, please say hello, and if you still have concerns or questions, simply ask and I will give you an honest answer,” he wrote.