Faculty members raise concerns about transparency in interim president selection

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  • University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley named Shelley Clark Nickel as GS’ interim president.

  • Faculty member Robert Costomiris (middle), literature associate professor, discusses concerns with the lack of transparency in the interim president selection at the Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday. “Knowledge is power. We have no power,” Costomiris said. 

  • Faculty members raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the University System of Georgia’s selection of Georgia Southern University’s interim president. 

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Matthew Enfinger

Georgia Southern University faculty members raised concerns at Tuesday’s faculty senate meeting regarding transparency in the selection of the university’s interim president.

Following President Jaimie Hebert’s announcement to step down on June 30, University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley named Shelley Clark Nickel as GS’ interim president.

Nickel currently serves USG executive vice chancellor for strategy and fiscal affairs and treasurer for the Board of Regents and has served as interim president at Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia.

Concerns of lack of transparency

Faculty member Robert Costomiris, literature associate professor, raised questions about Hebert’s stepping down and concerns of Nickel not being a member of GS.

“It seems a kind of odd time to make a transition like this since we’re going through this tremendous transition already,” Costomiris said. “I want to know why he’s leaving and why we’re getting a president who is not a member of this institution.”

Dianna Cone, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said Hebert did share with her and other members of the president’s cabinet that he intends to pursue opportunities that came up that he felt were a better fit for him and his family.

“As far as the appointment of the interim that is the chancellor’s prerogative and we learned it in the media just like you learned it so I can’t speak to that really,” Cone said.

Janice Stern, psychology associate professor, also shared concerns regarding the transparency of Heberts resignation and the selection of Nickel as interim president.

“Things are just happening and nobody will explain anything to us,” Steirn said. “We are being presented with an interim president who may be fine but everything just feels sort of wrong and artificial and I want to know if there is anything that we can do to convince the board of regents to at least let us know what’s going on.”

Cone said the university’s senate group that meets with the chancellor could share concerns brought up at the meeting. Cone also said she would bring up concerns to Nickel when she visits the campus Wednesday.

Costomiris reiterated concerns with the lack of transparency.

“In a university where we pursue knowledge it seems to be a complete lack of knowledge about some very important issues that face us and these issues are when people ask ‘ Why is the faculty demoralized?’ I think we can just point to this as yet another reason why faculty feel completely cut out and just sick of the whole thing,” Costomiris said. “Knowledge is power. We have no power.”

National search for GS president

According to the USG’s website, a national search for GS’ next president will be conducted by the USG.

A campus-based presidential search committee will be formed include representatives from GS faculty, staff, the student body, alumni and the community and will be appointed by Wrigley and Board of Regents Chairman James Hull.

At the conclusion of the search the Board of Regents will have the sole authority to appoint the next president.

Matthew Enfinger, The George-Anne Editor-in-Chief, gaeditor@georgiasouthern.edu.