Last Friday, the Kansas Board of Regents announced the immediate resignation of Wichita State University President Jay Golden. Even though universities are supposed to be public institutions, Golden was hired less than a year ago during a closed-door process and KBOR, which governs the state’s colleges and universities, has not released further details about his resignation.
The abrupt announcement shocked many students who were supportive of his efforts to – ironically – promote shared governance, trust and transparency.
During his short tenure, Golden faced unexpected challenges, of which he handled with grace and public input.
When WSU Tech announced in June that Ivanka Trump would give a virtual commencement speech, hundreds of students signed an open letter to express their concerns about its timing – during nationwide protests against systemic racism.
WSU Tech ultimately listened to them and removed her from the keynote slot, moving it to be optional. The decision was criticized by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Koch Industries and Ivanka herself. Some large donors threatened to pull funding to the school if Golden did not reverse the decision.
This only solidified support for Golden. Students rallied on campus and 10,000 of them signed a petition in defense of him.
Although he was not perfect, we stand with WSU students and faculty in their push for transparency about Golden’s resignation and community involvement in the hiring of his successor.
To quote an editorial in The Sunflower, WSU’s student newspaper:
“The sudden departure of a president who has by-and-large been an advocate for students sends the wrong message to our community and to prospective students and donors.
“KBOR and (WSU) need to rebuild trust with community stakeholders and the only way to do that is to be completely transparent. That means decision-makers have to be open, vulnerable and willing to compromise.
“It also means we need to know why Jay Golden resigned without a word.”