KANSAS CITY, KAN. More than 400 people turned out for a farewell reception at the KU Medical Center for departing Chancellor Gene Budig.
Signing baseballs in a building that was completed under his leadership, outgoing Kansas University Chancellor Gene Budig said goodbye to the KU Medical Center on Wednesday.
"I leave here feeling a great deal of gratitude for all you have achieved," he told the crowd during brief farewell remarks during a reception in the new $14.5 million biomedical research building.
More than 400 medical center students, faculty and staff turned out to wish luck for Budig, who will become president of baseball's American League on Aug. 1.
Some, such as Carol Paul, a registered nurse who works in intravenous therapy, asked him to autograph a few baseballs.
"It will be a real nice keepsake," she said.
He joked that as president of the American League, his name would be on every baseball played there.
"It's really nice to know that your name will be on every foul ball," he said.
Other at the reception reflected on Budig's 13 years as chancellor.
"He's done a superb job," said Glenn Potter, administrator of the medical center's hospital. "The building that you're standing in is fitting of what he has accomplished."
During Budig's tenure, annual research funding for the medical center has grown from about $4 million in the early 1980s to $37 million today.
The medical school today is considered to be one of the top 10 comprehensive medical institutions in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine, Budig said.
In addition, the magazine has rated KU's nursing school as one of the top 25 public nursing schools in the land.
"The schools enjoy a marvelous and distinguished reputation," Budig said during an interview. "It is a real success story."
He also predicted "tremendous growth" at the school in the next five years.
"The University of Kansas will surpass the $100 million mark in research (funding) in the next two years, and a major contributor to that will be the medical center," he said.
As chancellor, Budig has traveled from Lawrence to Kansas City, Kan., for business at KUMC several times a week.
"This has been an important part of my life," he said.
Medical center administrators gave Budig a briefcase and pocket planner at the reception.
Del Shankel, a microbiology professor who has served in several administrative positions, will serve as interim chancellor until a search committee formed this summer names a new chancellor, probably next year.
Shankel, who attended Wednesday's reception, served as interim chancellor in 1980-81 between the terms of chancellors Archie Dykes and Budig.