Bookman: the regents pledged to find a new qualified chancellor; they fished for Sonny Perdue instead

A year ago, the Board of Regents announced it would launch a search to find the nation’s most qualified candidate to serve as chancellor and lead Georgia’s 26 colleges and their 340,000 students in what was sure to be a bright and glorious future.

What the Regents were looking for, we were told – what they hired an executive search firm to comb through the country – was someone with “impeccable professional and personal integrity”, someone with the “understanding and ability to lead a range of institutions from research universities to state universities to two-year colleges”, someone with “a successful track record and a commitment to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion”.

But three months into work, the research firm quit, apparently because they realized the fix was in place, it was all a sham, and they didn’t want to be a part of it. They were wise to do so. After a unanimous vote by the Regents this week, what we got in place of the highly qualified person pictured above is a 75-year-old Georgian man with no direct experience in higher education since graduating from university 50 years ago. , a man with a long history of personal enrichment in previous jobs, a man whose most important qualification is that he rendered our incumbent governor important favors that had to be repaid, a man who demonstrated a deep contempt for scientific research and tried to stifle and even punish him when he didn’t like his answers.

What we have is Sonny Perdue.

As a former governor himself, Perdue is infamous for crafting a special retroactive $100,000 tax break designed solely for his personal benefit and introduced secretly by an influential lawmaker who also happened to be the attorney. business from Perdue. His biggest initiative in eight years in office was his “Go Fish” initiative, a legacy cemented in a $14 million “fishing museum” built in his hometown, a taxpayer-funded boondoggle that is today. now as withered and forgotten as a sunfish left on the flop. on the dock until his death, while Georgian taxpayers continue to foot the bill.

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Unsurprisingly, Perdue’s ethical shortcomings followed him into his later role as United States Secretary of Agriculture, where he proved willing to inject politics into areas where politics, by law and practice, had no role to play. When Agriculture Department researchers produced findings that Perdue found impolitic in areas such as climate change and farm incomes, he tried to downplay or discourage their work. When the research continued, Perdue supported efforts to cut agency budgets by 50%. When Congress refused to accept this reduction, Perdue supported a plan to banish Washington’s two major research agencies to Kansas City. When half the workforce refused to transfer, Perdue had achieved their goal, drastically reducing the amount of pesky research they were able to produce.

He is the person in charge of our state’s research institutions and charged with protecting academic freedom and integrity. He is the person who, according to the Board of Regents, at the insistence of Governor Brian Kemp, best exemplifies the qualities they originally claimed to be looking for.

In Washington these days, people are all amazed at President Biden’s pledge to appoint a black woman as the next Supreme Court justice, as well as his choice of Lisa Cook, a black woman from Georgia, to serve on the Federal Reserve Board. Despite the excellent credentials of potential candidates, all of whom are far more qualified for their positions than Perdue is for this one, we are told that this is an assault on the traditions of an American meritocracy.

They actually have the nerve to say such things, in public, as if none of us have a clue how the world really works.

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