KU's chancellor trades his university mortar board for a baseball cap.
Gene Budig is officially a lame duck chancellor, a very happy lame duck chancellor.
On Wednesday, Kansas University's top administrator was introduced in Cincinnati as the new president of baseball's American League. His five-year term starts Aug. 1.
"I love this game, and it's a real honor to be asked to enhance it and protect it," Budig said.
Budig, 55, was given a five-year term at $350,000 a year. He succeeds retiring Dr. Bobby Brown, president since 1983.
KU microbiology professor Del Shankel, 66, will serve as acting chancellor. Budig's successor could be named early next year.
Budig will become one of the major leagues' most influential officials after spending 21 years running three universities, the last 13 years at KU.
Considering the shift from higher education to baseball, Budig said there were parallels between the fields.
``Both represent a public trust," the chancellor said.
"I don't know of a sport that has had more impact on our society than baseball," Budig said. "Baseball has been a point of interest and a source of inspiration for generations."
His colleagues and friends at KU had mixed feelings about his departure.
"I'm very sad for the university," said U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Deanell Tacha, a former KU vice chancellor. "It's a tremendous loss to the university.
"I'm thrilled for him. I know this, for him, is one of those jobs for which he is perfect."
Ed Meyen, the No. 2 administrator on KU's campus, said: "He's going to a job opportunity that he loves as much as higher education."
State Board of Regents Chairman John Montgomery said the regents regretted losing Budig.
``The board is going to miss him, because he has done some remarkable things,'' he said.
Kansas State University President Jon Wefald said the AL owners made a wise choice.
``Kansas' loss is baseball's gain,'' Wefald said. ``I cannot imagine how they could have given the job to anybody else.''
U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., said Budig was an outstanding chancellor. She has been mentioned as a possible successor to Budig.
"He oversaw the largest capital campaign in the university's history and has enhanced the national reputation of KU,'' said Kassebaum, a KU graduate.
David Glass, chief executive officer of the Kansas City Royals, said Budig had been a valuable member of the team's board of directors during the past year.
``Gene will bring a quality and innovation to the league president's job that will benefit all of baseball,'' Glass said.