Tempers flare over search for Kentucky State University presiden - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Tempers flare over search for Kentucky State University president

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – The faculty senate of Kentucky State University is considering a no-confidence vote of the school’s Board of Regents.

After hiring a search firm at the cost of $120,000, the Board of Regents landed on three candidates for the position of president.

Back in May, Raymond Burse suddenly resigned as president. Dr. Aaron Thompson stepped in to fill that role on an interim basis.

“I came here with the idea of really moving the university forward, and we have,” Thompson said Wednesday.

The Board of Regents three finalists for the job are:

  • Said Sewell, a provost at Lincoln University in Missouri. Last September, the faculty Senate there voted to say it had no confidence in Sewell’s abilities.
  • M. Christopher Brown, a provost at Southern University in Louisiana. In 2014, he resigned as president of Alcorn State University after numerous reports of failures to seek required bids for upgrades to the president’s house.
  • Thomas Colbert is a justice on the Oklahoma Supreme Court and alumnus of Kentucky State University.

However, at least some members of the faculty say they dismayed at the three finalists, particularly with the fact that Thompson was not included.

“We were surprised that Dr. Thompson was not included as a finalist,” said faculty senate President Kimberly Sipes. “He has come in, and the university has changed.”

While addressing those gathered for the faculty senate committee meeting Wednesday, Thompson said nothing to suggest he would be interested in the permanent position.

“I know there’s a lot of stuff floating around,” Thompson said. “I'm not going to comment on all that. I will say that anything we do, let’s make sure the heart of this institution is in place.”

Sipes questions whether the search process was done fairly.

“The process unfolded as planned, and three candidates were selected as finalists through a thorough, confidential process,” said student body president and Board of Regents member Ralph Williams. “While each person is entitled to his opinion about the process, each person does not have the right to express ‘alternative facts’ because they do not like the results.”

Williams was also among the board members who were on the search committee that landed on the three candidates.

“The search process itself was not unethical,” Williams said. “I think the search process we had was very fair.”

Sipes said the executive committee intends to ask the faculty senate if a no-confidence vote “for the entire board or certain board members” should be taken. If yes, the entire faculty would have a vote as well.

Board chairperson Dr. Karen Bearden could not immediately be reached for comment.

The board is expected to meet Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 5 p.m. for a further discussion of the selection process.

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