Olens Likely to Kennesaw State

Olens Likely to Kennesaw State

The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents is expected to vote Wednesday, Oct. 12, during Yom Kippur, to name Attorney General Sam Olens the president of Kennesaw State University.

If the full board follows the recommendation of its Executive and Compensation Committee to hire Olens, a move backed by Gov. Nathan Deal, Olens will give up any chance of running in 2018 to become Georgia’s first Jewish governor.

Olens’ potential move from attorney general with more than two years left in his second term has been rumored for months, but the first official explanation of his interest in the post came Tuesday, Oct. 4, when University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby released a Sept. 28 letter from Olens and the Executive and Compensation Committee interviewed him for the job.

“As Attorney General, I have had the honor and responsibility to serve ten million Georgians,” Olens wrote. “I would humbly welcome the opportunity and honor to continue my career of service to the community that has been my home for over three decades.”

As an East Cobb resident, Olens would face a much shorter commute to Kennesaw than he has now going downtown. And the previous KSU president, Daniel Papp, was paid more than 2½ times as much as the attorney general gets, so a nice pay raise awaits Olens.

But his 18-year climb from county commissioner to county chairman to attorney general apparently won’t go any higher, at least not in 2018.

Faculty members have complained that Olens does not have any experience in academic administration and was selected without a formal search.

An online petition started by one student and one alum opposes the hiring on the basis of Olens’ positions in legal cases affecting the LGBTQ community, and it has garnered nearly 10,000 e-signatures. A campus protest was held on Rosh Hashanah, Monday, Oct. 3.

But in sharing Olens’ letter, Huckaby urged everyone to keep an open mind.

In that letter, Olens said he offers Kennesaw State experience in government management, consensus building and strategic partnerships, as well as deep community ties and an understanding “of the broader context in which KSU exists.”

He said the university needs administrative accountability to match its rapid growth of recent years, and it must refocus on the needs of students, especially improved affordability and graduation rates.

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