The interim KU chancellor could be able to shed the word "interim" from his title.
Historians writing about Kansas University may one day refer to Del Shankel as the university's 15th chancellor.
Shankel, professor of microbiology, has been interim KU chancellor since Gene Budig left in July to become American League president.
A covert campaign is under way to convince the Kansas Board of Regents to scratch out the word "interim" in Shankel's title.
"There have been some requests from folks to the board that we take that action," said Stephen Jordan, regents' executive director.
There is precedent for honoring an interim KU chief executive in this way.
In October 1972, regents made Acting Chancellor Raymond Nichols the university's 12th chancellor. He was in the job for one year, filling in between chancellors Laurence Chalmers and Archie Dykes.
"It would be an honor to be compared to Ray Nichols," Shankel said Friday. "I would be honored if they did that."
Shankel first pinch hit as KU chancellor in 1980-81, serving between Dykes and Budig. He's the only person in KU history to do so twice.
On Jan. 7, Regents Chairman Frank Sabatini introduced KU's next chancellor, Robert Hemenway, as the 16th person to oversee the university.
The chancellor roster indicates Hemenway could only wear No. 16 if Shankel were to be the 15th chancellor.