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ASU interim president gets a look at her job

Monday, July 2, 2012 6:32 PM
Last updated Tuesday, July 3, 2012 1:30 AM
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The first thing to welcome Shirley Strum Kenny to Augusta was the heat.

Shirley Strum Kenny will be ASU's interim president for six months.
Shirley Strum Kenny will be ASU's interim president for six months.

As she packed her life into her car in McLean, Va., on Saturday, the interim president of Augusta State University was one of millions of people without power after severe storms on the East Coast. She had no air-conditioning and no electricity before making the 600-mile drive.

By midafternoon, she and her husband, Robert, braved the dark skies and 100-degree afternoon and headed to the Deep South.

Despite the temperatures that greeted her, Augusta was good as far as first impressions go.

“It’s beautiful, it’s absolutely beautiful,” Kenny said. “It’s a very special city … I’m eager to get to know both the students and the faculty.”

Kenny settled into a bare office Monday to start her six-month stint as ASU’s interim president.

She will lead the students and faculty until the consolidation with Georgia Health Sciences University becomes official early next year and GHSU President Ricardo Azziz takes over as president.

Kenny moves into the job after three years of retirement. She most recently was president of Stony Brook University from 1994 to 2009 and of Queens College University of New York before that.

When she arrived at ASU at 8 a.m. Monday, her first task was to sit down with her predecessor, William Bloodworth.

According to Kenny, they talked history and consolidation. Bloodworth, who is set to write an official history of ASU during his 19 years as president, explained the context of the university and what it means to Augusta.

The rest of the day was about meeting with top leaders involved in the consolidation, including Azziz. She took a golf-cart tour of the campus, noticed the beauty of the crape myrtle trees decorating the streets and cooled off in her office with a bottle of water six hours into the first day.

As of Monday afternoon, Kenny’s planner was not yet filled out for her second day on the job. Her main task is to ease the transition between Bloodworth’s exit and the official consolidation.

She said her experience leading research universities with health and medical components should bring an informed perspective to the process.

The move to consolidation is one that will help higher education as a whole, especially during a time when schools nationwide are struggling for state funding and support, she said.

“It’s just a tremendous opportunity for the new university to burst on the scene with great new things happening,” she said.

As for now, the lifelong educator will be getting to know her new neighbors.

She and her husband plan to get to know the people and the places while working on a detective novel they are jointly writing – if the consolidation leaves her any free time.

“My husband has killed off a few victims already in the book,” she said. “He’s very good. We’ll see if I have the time to work on it.”

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Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 07/02/12 - 08:02 pm

Dr. Kenny.

rmwardsr 07/02/12 - 08:33 pm
Well, welcome, but what can

Well, welcome, but what can she do that Bloodworth could not have done? She knows nothing about ASU, nor Augusta. Why would her and her husband have gone to the expense of moving here if she was only offered a six month job. This merger is getting worse and worse everyday. I bet there has been a lot of back slapping, cigar smoking, back room deals that we don't have the foggiest idea about going on. And in all of this nothing has been said about how this will affect the Athen's campus of GHSU. Even Michael Adams, the president of UGA has become a casualty in all of this. If he wasn't asked(told) to retire, why was he given such a sweetheart deal to do so? There are some high level players in this merger that we don't know about, and it all has to do with them wanting to make GHSU a part of UGA, but somehow this little school called Augusta State University got in the way, and somehow will be included in the deal. One can bet that Dr.Kenny has more at stake than just being an interim president. Somwhere there are some greasy palms in this deal!

Riverman1 07/03/12 - 03:56 am
She probably wants to retire

She probably wants to retire somewhere out of the Wash. D.C. area. I know I was happy to get back to Georgia after my years in D.C. There's really no black helicopter conspiracy with the merger. Lots of other schools in the state had to combine, also.

My guess for the future of the branch campus in Athens is that it will become part of UGA just as USC has it's own medical school. No conspiracy there, that's the normal evolution. It will be a tiny, low rated school for decades. USC Medical School is rated very low, while MUSC in Charleston is the premier med school. Same situation as in Georgia.

Riverman1 07/03/12 - 04:43 am
Where Did She Move

I'm curious as to what part of town she moved into?

justthefacts 07/03/12 - 07:43 am

I am with rmwardsr, seems a waste of money for a six month job. But, I guess the money was no problemo.

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