- Associated Press - Saturday, March 3, 2018

KENNESAW, Ga. (AP) - Some faculty members and students at one of Georgia’s largest universities say the names of finalists in the search for the school’s next president should be made public.

They say greater transparency is needed in the search for Kennesaw State University’s new leader, and that top candidates should visit the campus and meet with students and faculty before the decision is made.

Search committee members so far have decided to keep secret the names of potential candidates, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Sam Olens resigned as Kennesaw State’s president in February. Olens, who was Georgia’s attorney general before the Board of Regents hired him to lead KSU, was the only candidate for the job then.

During a recent campus meeting, students and faculty members said they’ve lost faith in the university and questioned whether the school’s next president has already been chosen. Others questioned whether keeping the candidates’ names secret is allowable under Georgia law.

“Do I get to talk to (the finalist)?” asked KSU senior Edmund Tella. “If we don’t get to do that, I can promise you they will have an uphill battle.”

Laurie Wilder, president of Parker Executive Search, the Atlanta-based firm hired to help KSU find its next president, said many potential candidates will be reluctant to apply for the job if their names are shared with the public, for fear of jeopardizing their current employment status.

“If I am going to be exposed, I cannot be a candidate,” Wilder said she’s heard in other searches.

But the same firm is now conducting a search in Florida that’s dramatically different in terms of transparency.

The names of candidates vying to become the next president of the University of Central Florida are being made public, so that students and faculty can learn more about them, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

By mid-February, eight candidates, all of them men, were in the running to lead the Florida university, the newspaper reported with a final decision in that search expected as early as this month. Four men were later named as finalists in the ongoing search.

Wilder expressed disappointed with the lack of diversity among candidates for the Florida school’s presidency, the Orlando newspaper reported. She and her colleagues “spoke to as many people as humanly possible,” she said, adding that four strong potential candidates who were female or non-white decided not to seek the position.

The Kennesaw State search committee hopes to recommend finalists to the Board of Regents by May.

With about 35,000 students, the public institution northwest of Atlanta is Georgia’s third-largest university.

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