HBCU Alums Accuse Georgia Higher Ed Chancellor of Discrimination

In a scathing editorial published in the Macon Telegraph, three graduates of Georgia historically black universities have accused University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby of discrimination in the executive search and hiring process for system schools.

The editorial, written by Otha L. Kincy, Anthony Hicks and Keith McRae, outlines searches and appointments at several state institutions over the last decade and details inconsistencies between leadership transition at predominantly white and historically black system universities.

Chancellor Huckaby selected, for instance, an interim president in 2011 for Savannah State University, and a year later he simply appointed that person as president without the benefit of a search committee. Similar to Savannah State, Chancellor Huckaby again selected an interim president for Albany State University in 2012. Two years later he appointed that person as the permanent president without benefit of a search committee. And yet again, he repeated the same process when choosing the recent permanent president of Fort Valley State University without consulting university or community stakeholders.

But at the PWIs, the chancellor took a different approach. Instead of simply appointing presidents, he decided to form search committees, with university and community input, to select presidents at these state institutions of higher learning. For instance, when Georgia Southern University, a PWI, recently needed another president, Huckaby formed a search committee. The search committee performed its due diligence, and now Georgia Southern has a new president. 

The editorial pinpoints Valdosta State University as an institution where common search processes have been allowed to be conducted, with proper community engagement.

For example, Valdosta State University, would have had two presidents and three interim presidents since 2008. A Valdosta State search committee selected its eighth president on Aug. 1, 2008. This president served the university for approximately two and a half years. After which, an interim president stepped in and served for nine months, with the search committee selecting its ninth president on July 1, 2012. In just three years, that president resigned.

The chancellor selected, subsequently, another interim president on July 1, 2015, who will leave at the end of this June after serving only one year at the helm. Now, Huckaby will have to pick yet another interim president on July 1, 2016. Wow. What a roller coaster ride for students, faculty and staff at Valdosta State over the past eight years.

The alleged discrimination in Georgia follows a similar pattern in North Carolina, where system officials appointed new chancellor Thomas Conway in December, following the resignation of former chancellor Stacey Franklin Jones. Dr. Conway’s appointment, first on an interim then permanent basis, came without a formal search.

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