Letter to the Editor: Nephron CEO Explains Exit from USC Presidential Search Committee

Lou Kennedy
Posted 11/29/21

I remember being accepted to the University of South Carolina. The pride that came with the acceptance letter was born out of the sacrifices my family made to afford me this life-changing …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Letter to the Editor: Nephron CEO Explains Exit from USC Presidential Search Committee

Posted

I remember being accepted to the University of South Carolina. The pride that came with the acceptance letter was born out of the sacrifices my family made to afford me this life-changing opportunity. In the decades since, I have been proud to join my husband in offering the university unconditional support as fans and contributors.
 
Carolina has been home. Until two weeks ago.
 
Let me tell you what happened.
 
Earlier in the year, I was asked to be an advisory member of the presidential search committee. This represented a unique opportunity for the Carolina community — and that includes members of the board — to embrace the chance to consider candidates for this critical role, who reflect the diversity — of ideas, experience and background — that makes our state and university great.
 
More than this, it was a chance for the search committee to restore trust in the selection and governance processes, both of which have been undermined by the actions of certain trustees over the last two years.
 
My sincere desire was to finish my service and recommend to the board a robust and diverse slate of candidates. But, unfortunately, based on the way the chairman of the board of trustees dismissed my presence as a “courtesy,” in front of all of my colleagues, I decided I could not finish. I resigned. The way he behaved was an unwelcome throwback and completely unprofessional.
 
To be honest, as the chairman wagged his finger at me, I felt as though the fix could be in: the chairman could wield disproportionately high power to select whomever he wanted, and keep the university in the same rut it seems to find itself time and again.
 
So, for me, this has been the perfect opportunity to consider where we are and where we go from here. Let’s look at the history. The laws and rules surrounding board governance are antiquated. It is time to give them a thoughtful and careful look. There is no question we made governance adjustments in the aftermath of the previous president’s onboarding.
 
But it is time to work with the legislature to understand what else they — and reform-minded members of the Carolina community — can do to define this board not by popularity, length of service, legislative connections and long-windedness. Instead, we need a board known for its fresh faces, fresh ideas, and, most importantly, merit to serve. Members should boast records of achievement in research and in the private sector, as well as in life, and possess the capacity to bring innovative and creative ideas from all professions to the board.
 
One of the best initiatives the board could undertake is meeting students and faculty directly on their own turf. The board should engage them regularly about their concerns and vision for the university. Meeting them on their own turf does not just mean holding formal town hall forums where people feel stunted about what they can say; it means having a board that knows about the use of contemporary forms of communication, such as Twitter, SnapChat and Instagram.
 
While my experience on the committee represented a setback, I am optimistic about the future of our state to do the right thing — particularly by the students we are depending on to be future leaders — and in this context, I look forward to working with anyone who would like to chart a blazing path forward for the university, and make the university a place I am proud to call home again.
 
Lou Kennedy is CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation in West Columbia.

lou kennedy usc search committee, nephron west columbia, university of south carolina president

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here