Regents take no binding action related to WSU President Golden at special meeting

Student body president says Golden will remain in his position



President Jay Golden addresses fine arts students at a town hall in January.

After more than four hours of closed discussion on Wednesday, the Kansas Board of Regents issued a statement saying it is “committed to working with all our universities and colleges to support and promote freedom of speech and diversity and inclusion.”

The board held a special meeting Wednesday afternoon after major donors called for Wichita State President Jay Golden to resign over Ivanka Trump’s canceled commencement speech, according to The Wichita Eagle. But KBOR’s statement does not address Golden directly and the board took no binding action related to Golden during the meeting.

WSU Tech announced Thursday morning that Ivanka Trump would be the keynote speaker at its virtual graduation ceremony on Saturday. The university and WSU Tech reversed course just hours later, canceling her speech after widespread criticism from students and other campus stakeholders. Graduates could still choose to hear a congratulatory message from Ivanka Trump from a group of more than 30 speakers. 

During the virtual meeting on Wednesday, regents met with Golden to discuss personnel matters for more than four hours in executive session, meaning the public could not view the discussion. Kansas law allows governing bodies to close meetings to the public when discussing personnel matters. 

There was no time allotted for public comment at the meeting. 

Student Body President Rija Khan, who leads the Student Advisory Council, asked to address the board at the end of the meeting, but the Regents did not allow her to speak.

“We haven’t allowed any comment for the public and I’m afraid if I do, we’ll be here until midnight,” said Regent Chair Shane Bangerter. “But I very much will make time to visit with you.”

Khan later confirmed that Golden would remain president in a live address to the student body.

“We are very excited to hear the news that Dr. Golden will remain in his position of president of our university [and] part of our Shocker family,” she said. “He has shown that he is more than talk, and for that we are appreciative of his actions.”

Golden issued a statement Wednesday night echoing KBOR’s release.

“I stand with the Kansas Board of Regents in its support for freedom of speech and for diversity and inclusion,” he wrote. “I look forward to continuing our efforts in advancing the mission and vision of Wichita State University for all of Shocker Nation.”

In a statement on Wednesday morning, Koch Industries said it is “continuing its commitments to WSU, and we will continue evaluating new funding opportunities as they arise.”

The statement says Koch does not make its support “conditional on employment decisions,” but objects to “speaker disinvitations.”

“Universities offer students opportunities to encounter new ideas and think for themselves,” the statement reads. “Limiting access to unpopular speakers, viewpoints, and scholarship doesn’t protect students. It cuts off the changes to engage, debate, and criticize.”

Read KBOR’s statement in full:

The Kansas Board of Regents is committed to working with all our universities and colleges to support and promote freedom of speech and diversity and inclusion.

During these unprecedented times, our universities have been forced to make quick decisions and act swiftly without the normal process of including all our stakeholders in decision making.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to improve communications during times of crisis. 

We look forward to strengthening relationships with students, alumni and friends.  It is vital that all stakeholders join us in this effort.