Michigan State's search for a new president has been down to one person for two weeks now.

Kevin Guskiewicz, who currently serves as chancellor for the University of North Carolina's flagship Chapel Hill campus, has been mulling over the potential move to East Lansing since mid-November. He's a highly regarded academic who's done important research and work on concussions, and as an administrator he's led UNC through some turbulent times.

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Guskiewicz has the kind of experience necessary for the top job at Michigan State. No, I'm not talking about scholastic pedigree, a robust wardrobe of vintage tweed blazers, or hating the University of Michigan with the fire of a thousand suns. I'm talking about knowing how to deal with a problematic governing board.

That's what makes the latest news on Guskiewicz's negotiations with MSU so disappointing, and maybe even disqualifying.

Guskiewicz has informed the MSU Board of Trustees, which has owned a deserved and ubiquitary reputation for malignant meddling since time immemorial, that he'll be State's next president if and only if they promise to stay out of his way. Here's more from The State News:

“If I were fortunate to be selected as the next president, I would only accept the role if I were given the opportunity to lead (MSU) without undue interference; instead, leading in a trusted partnership with the trustees, faculty, and staff," Guskiewicz wrote in the statements.

He wrote that he is “confident that the trustees are committed to this” and that he believes the board “values the principles of shared governance.”

Why am I suddenly reminded of the fable about the scorpion and the frog?

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Guskiewicz is calling on the BOT to abandon its instinct to interfere and overcome its pathological need to be the center of attention in favor of fulfilling its oath to the taxpayers of the state of Michigan to serve the interests of the university. That sounds reasonable, until you remember who we're talking about here.

Look, tigers don't change their stripes. Guskiewicz might as well be asking the sun to start rising in the west and setting in the east. The trustees at Michigan State are there to look after their own interests, and that's it. It's always been that way, and, unless or until we finally stop leaving the board's composition up to millions of people who couldn't care less and are just voting straight party ticket, it will continue to be that way.

I really hope Guskiewicz gave the board this ultimatum on a dare or just to see what would happen. Because if he honestly thought there was even a smidgen of a chance that the cancerous growth that governs continually drives this university straight into the ditch would even for a second entertain the notion that it doesn't know better than anyone and everyone else, then he's definitely not smart enough for this job.

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