TOPEKA — Wichita State University president Jay Golden resigned Friday after less than one year on the job and amid lingering frustration among influential donors with cancelation of a summer graduation speech by Ivanka Trump.
Golden was hired in October 2019 and started work on campus in January, but didn’t survive the calendar year.
Bill Feuerborn, chairman of the state Board of Regents, said Golden submitted his resignation to the higher education governing board.
“The board is thankful for his service,” Feuerborn said. “We are appreciative of his hard work and dedication to the university and are grateful for his commitment to serving students.”
In June, WSU faculty and students objected to issuance of an invitation to President Donald Trump’s daughter to speak at the virtual graduation ceremony for students at WSU Tech. Golden’s administration called off her appearance and had a student speak at commencement.
Prior to the scheduled appearance, Ivanka Trump posted her pre-recorded speech to Twitter. She also complained about “cancel culture” on college campuses.
“Our nation’s campuses should be bastions of free speech,” she declared. “Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia. Listening to one another is important now more than ever.”
Prominent benefactors of the university, including WSU presidential search committee chairman Steve Clark, responded to the incident by calling for Golden’s ouster. It was a personal reversal for Clark, who less than a year earlier had praised Golden’s “proven leadership” and “extremely impressive record of accomplishments in research and higher education.”
The Kansas Board of Regents convened a four-hour, closed-door meeting to consider Golden’s future in June. The board emerged to chastise Golden for communication shortcomings, but left him as university president. In the Friday news release revealing the resignation, the Board of Regents offered no explanation for the decision.
Rick Muma, the provost at Wichita State, was appointed acting president while the Board of Regents considers options for an interim president.
Golden, who was the university’s 14th president, came to Kansas from East Carolina University, where he was responsible for developing public-private partnerships and building research campuses.
He built an academic reputation at East Carolina, Arizona State and Duke as a researcher in environmental sustainability and was an advocate for applied learning and economic development.