Education

Amid Protest, Sam Olens Begins KSU Presidency

Students and faculty members at Kennesaw State University joined hands in protest Tuesday as former state Attorney General Sam Olens began his first day as university president.
Students and faculty members at Kennesaw State University joined hands in protest Tuesday as former state Attorney General Sam Olens began his first day as university president.
Credit Elly Yu / WABE

 

About a hundred students and faculty members rallied at Kennesaw State University Tuesday as former state Attorney General Sam Olens began his first day as the school’s president.

The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents named Olens as president last month without conducting a national search.

Marni Roberts, a drawing and painting major at KSU, said she’s concerned about how the decision could affect the university’s reputation.

“KSU has grown a lot in the past few years of, like, making itself look like a better school,” Roberts said. “In the past, people used to be ashamed to go to KSU, and lately, we’ve been proud – until now.”

A university spokesperson declined comment on the protest. The Board of Regents isn’t required to conduct a search according to its policy manual.

The university in a statement said Olens would be spending the day meeting with “various members of the campus community.”

“It is truly an honor to serve as president of this remarkable institution,” Olens said in the statement. “Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet with student leaders and faculty members. Based on those conversations, I believe that we share many of the same goals for Kennesaw State, and we will continue to build on those commonalities as we work together – faculty, staff and students – to further the mission and goals of the University.”

Several faculty members who said they applied for the job have filed employment discrimination complaints.

Another group has filed suit to stop Olens from taking the presidency. The hearing for that case is set for Monday.

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