“Uhhhhhhhhh, Mr. Garrison, I have just one more question.”
So, he now gets out of law school, and goes to work for one of the smarmy defense firms, but quickly latches on as Tax Commissioner under Bob Wise. What the hell? Tax Commissioner? What the hell did he know about taxes? He got that job purely because he knew Wise. But he was surely qualified to be Tax Commissioner. Oh yes, he was so qualified he held that job for all of about 10 seconds, before being bumped up to Chief of Staff. Oh yes, he’s just quite the little political climber. But, let’s not stop there, noooooooo. Wise then appoints him to the Higher Education Policy Commission. I’m kind of surprised WVU mentions that. I would be afraid it might set off a fatal case of déjà vu, considering the bullshit maneuver that got Hardesty got the job in the first place. For those who don’t remember, Hardesty was on the Board of Trustees – the precursor to the Policy Commission – and they picked the new president. Of course, Hardesty stepped down as a BoT member, when he applied, but obviously, he had quite a few buddies on that Board. He made it to the top three choices (he and two other no-names, who both had infinitely more experience in higher education than Dave). But the BoT decided to simply sit on the selection, until the other two candidates eventually withdrew their names (after they took other employment) and then said, “Well, I guess we have to go with Dave, he’s the only candidate left. What a coincidence too, because he’s the one we would have picked anyway”
So, we have Garrison as the lock now. That’s really no surprise. Hell, I figured this out about 10 seconds after Hardesty announced his resignation back in August. But, that’s backroom politics as usual in West Virginia, we shouldn’t be surprised.
The other two candidates on the short list, are what one would call “traditional” or “old school” type candidates. Candidates who have spent long chunks of their careers, dealing with the ins and outs of higher ed life. They’ve been in the trenches, and done the dirty work, and knows what actually goes on in a university. One is currently the Provost (ie, the 2nd in command) at Kansas State, and previously served as an academic Dean at WVU. He’s spent 25 or so years in higher ed. The other is also a lifelong higher education guy. He’s been a Dean, a teaching fellow, and is currently a university president. He’s spent 30+ years in higher education administration. These two guys are imminently more qualified to run WVU. They know infinitely more about a university, and it’s primary goal of academics, than Garrison ever will hope to know in 10 lifetimes.
But the REAL insult in this whole mess is more subtle, and totally exposes the “selection” for the total sham this thing is, if you just think about it for a second. Everyone knows Garrison is going to get the job. People like Hoppy Kercheval say stuff like “Oh, well, I don’t know who’s going to get it,” and he’s lying right through his teeth. Then people like Hoppy will hedge their bets by following it up with, “Well, you know the job of a university president isn’t the same as it used to be. It’s more about fundraising and schmoozing, and dealing with the legislature, and blah blah blah.” Maybe so. Maybe that IS the new breed of university presidents. No more working your way up through the ranks of faculty, to a dean’s job, to a provost, and then to a president. No, now all you have to do is be the right politician’s buddy, and viola, instant president material.
So, let’s assume that’s true, the job description now doesn’t lend itself to the “old school” type presidential candidates. And that “new” type of job description is what makes Garrison sooooooo attractive as a candidate, that the selection committee will most certainly use that as their justification for picking Garrison. So, now we come to what I’ll call the “Columbo moment.” For those who are too young to remember, Columbo was this TV detective who would investigate murders or crimes or whatever, and talk to all these people, and then he would go to the main “suspect” and talk to him as if Columbo was convinced the guy DIDN’T commit the crime. And as he got ready to leave, Columbo would then stop and say, “I have just one question……” and this question would invariably be the one question the suspect couldn’t provide an adequate answer to, and prove beyond a doubt that Columbo knew the guy did it and could prove it in court beyond a reasonable doubt.
So, we come to the Garrison “Columbo moment.” Ahem. In my best Peter Falk voice, with my rumpled trenchcoat on and a half-burnt cigar in my hand.
“I’m sure you’ll make a fine president, Mr. Garrison, and the search committee has obviously done its job well. They see in you all the qualities that are now needed as a university president. You are the epitome of the “new” breed of university president, much more suited than the “old school” type presidents to respond to the demands of running a university in today’s world. I’m sure this was an open, and honest search, and you are clearly the best qualified candidate. I wish you luck.
“Oh, I have just one question before I go. If the search committee knows the new trend in university presidents are the same type of candidates as you are, and this is the most important quality for a university president in today's world, why are the other two finalists, old school presidents, and not the same type of “new breed” university president as yourself?”
See, if they truly were wanting someone with the same background as yourself, you’d think they’d have more than one candidate in the entire candidate pool. And then they’d have more than one of those types of candidates in their final three. That is, if they truly had an honest search.”
This whole episode is a perfect example of why West Virginia is a joke.