FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – The Board of Regents at Kentucky State University has chosen a new president after a contentious battle over the search process.

Dr. M. Christopher Brown was chosen as president at a special-called Board of Regents meeting on Monday.

Brown is a provost at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.

According to his biographical information on Southern University’s website, Brown is originally from Charleston, S.C. He received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from South Carolina State University, a master’s degree in education policy and evaluation from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. in higher education from Penn State University.

Before his time at Southern University and in 2014, he resigned as president of Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss. An investigation by Mississippi’s College Board found violations in the way contracts for work on the president’s house were bid out. It also questioned the relationship between one of Brown’s staffers and a company that had repeated business with concerts on the campus of Alcorn State.

The search for a new president for the university has been marred in controversy since the three finalists were named for the job. Many faculty and students say they felt like the process was not done in an transparent manner. 

Since May, Dr. Aaron Thompson has served as interim president, but he was not among the finalists, causing consternation with faculty and staff.

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

The faculty senate has voted to move forward with a no-confidence vote for Board of Regents Chairwoman Dr. Karen Bearden. The final vote could be taken next week.

Bearden has refused multiple interview requests by WDRB News.

In a prepared news release Bearden said:

"The Board of Regents agreed that Dr. Brown has the experience, credentials, and vision to build upon our strong foundation and lead Kentucky State University and our students to even greater achievement and academic excellence. His selection comes at the conclusion of a spirited national search that included input from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community supporters. Dr. Brown is the right leader to bring all of these groups together and set KSU on a path toward continued greatness.”

Regents Paul Harnice, Elaine Farris and Ronald Banks voted no. Banks was named to the Board of Regents on Monday by Gov. Matt Bevin and sworn in just hours before the final vote.

"I am profoundly honored to be named president of Kentucky State University, a revered and important higher education institution that has blazed trails in academia, equality, and higher learning since its founding in 1886," Brown said in a release. "KSU has a dedicated faculty, staff, and student body, and I know that we will forge deep, respectful relationships that will fuel great partnerships to benefit and promote this esteemed institution."

There is not an official start date that has been set for Dr. Brown yet but "the Board hopes to be able to provide one soon," according to a Kentucky State University spokesperson. 

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