Kemos' lie surprises
Published: Sunday, July 11, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07
In the early hours of June 18, senior vice president Alexander Kemos admitted to University President R. Bowen Loftin, he lied on his resume about military experience and a graduate degree.
Later that day, Kemos resigned.
The news had repercussions across the University campus.
"I really thought it was a joke," said graduate student Sly Mata. "I started laughing, and then, nobody else was laughing."
Mata was the graduate student representative in the search committee that selected Kemos for the position of senior vice president for administration.
No one in the committee voiced concern about Kemos's credentials, Mata said.
"He sounded very sincere," Mata said. "He said all the right things in the interview. There were no red flags."
Kemos said among other things, to have been a Navy SEAL.
Adam Unger, senior finance major and 2011 Corps of Cadets SEAL Platoon commanding officer, said many of his fellow Corps members were angry at Kemos for lying.
"It was pretty messed up," Unger said. "Some of us are working really hard to get a chance to do what he supposedly did. We all look up to real Navy SEALs."
Kemos gave a speech to the Navy and Marine Corps outfits about his experiences in the military.
"He was sharing a story about some mission he had been on as a SEAL and talking about how hard the training was," Unger said. "The way he talked sounded like he was trying too hard to sound like a tough guy and trying too hard to use the right terminology."
Despite that, Unger said no one seriously considered the possibility of deception.
"Everyone was kind of impressed," he said. "No one thought that he might be lying. It's pretty ironic because the topic of that speech was ethical dilemmas." After the scandal broke, Mata said he had lost some confidence in hiring practices at the University.
"It made me really wonder," Mata said. "To see somebody at a high level of administration lie about something like this, we're busting our tails to get our master's degree but is it going to be worth it for someone else to lie on paper and get the job?"
A new search committee to find Kemos's replacement is being formed, and Mata will be a member.
"We still have an obligation to do this job right," Mata said.
President R. Bowen Loftin said he was concerned about the damage Kemos had done to the public standing of the University.
"Reputationally, there's something out there," Loftin said. "We had a person who was hired here in a very senior level of responsibility who was not who he said he was."
Should students feel let down by this?
"I think so," Loftin said. "I made a mistake in hiring Dr. Kemos."
Kemos, who does not hold a doctorate degree, could not be reached for comment.
"We didn't do enough to catch this particular deception," Loftin said. "I'm sorry we made a mistake, and we'll do our very best to avoid making that mistake again." University auditors are verifying the degrees of all officials in an associate director position or higher, Loftin said.
"It's almost everybody in any kind of executive position," Loftin said. "We're having that checked out by the auditors themselves, who are kind of independent of the University and the System, to make sure that everyone currently employed in senior positions has all the credentials that they actually said they had."
Some students say they wonder if any changes can repair the damage to the University's reputation.
"It's caused me to worry about repercussions that will come to me through this, in terms of my name, in terms of my character and in terms of my degree from Texas A&M," Mata said. "Will this come back to bite me later? I don't know. I hope not."