Special Reports

Presidential Search Of Kentucky State University Met With Controversy And Criticism


Kentucky State University's search for a new president has been filled with controversy and criticism. The issue stems from the list of final candidates that the institution has announced last week.

Diverse Education reported that the search committee excluded Kentucky State University's interim president in the list of finalists that they recommended for the role. This led to complaints and criticisms from the faculty senate.

Several people from the university's staff senate as well as state lawmakers questioned the qualifications of the candidates. KSU officials refused to comment on the presidential search issue.

The school's interim president, Aaron Thompson, and acting provost Candace Love Jackson were also unable to comment on the issue. They were both out of the state last week.

The protest surrounding the list of finalists began about two weeks ago. This was when the KSU Board of Regents' five-member Presidential Search Committee voted three to two in favor of accepting the three final candidates from its consultant, Academic Search, which is based in Washington, D.C. The two who voted against the list said that they were not provided with the background information of the candidates.

Two candidates, M. Christopher Brown and Said Sewell, have higher education experience but also had questionable past service. Oklahoma judge Thomas Colbert has had less than two years' experience in higher education when he served as an assistant dean in a university law school.

It was also noted that Kentucky State University paid Academic Search $125,000 for the list of finalists. Meanwhile, according to the Lexington Herald Leader, the school's faculty was told last week to stop discussing the presidential search in their classes.

Provost Jackson has said that some students complained about how some teachers discussed the search in class. In an email, the class discussions about the issue were described as "unacceptable" and "inappropriate."

Elaine Farris, chair of the academic affairs committee, noted that it is important that teachers keep the focus on teaching and learning in class. However, she did acknowledge that they did not want to trespass upon the faculty members' academic freedom.

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