The highest ranking woman on the Regents staff is leaving her post after three years.
The communications director for the Kansas Board of Regents is leaving the post to become public affairs director for the Kansas Trial Lawyers Assn.
"I have always had aspirations to do more at the Statehouse, to work with the Legislature," said Barbara Conant who has been at the Regents for three years. "This is a good opportunity to do that and learn with someone who has Statehouse experience."
Conant, whose last day with the Regents is Oct. 19, will work directly with Terry Humphrey, executive director of the Trial Lawyers Assn.
"It's going to be a loss," Regents Executive Director Kim Wilcox said. "Barb's done some great things for us, including a new Web site we hope to unveil next week."
"It's also a chance to rethink once more the operational structure of the office," he continued. "It may be a challenge we can turn into an opportunity.
The board is looking for an external relations or governmental relations director who among other things will lobby the Legislature on the board's behalf. Meanwhile, Wilcox said no one has been appointed to carry out Conant's duties.
As a director of communications, Conant was the highest-ranking woman on the bor.
"This has been an extraordinary time to be in the board office with the restructuring of the board," she said. "It's been a real privilege to be here at this time."
In 1998, legislators discussed doing away with the board altogether. In the last legislative session, the Legislature restructured the board to give it authority over community colleges and technical schools, in addition to governing the six state universities, including Kansas University.
Tom Hutton, KU communications director, also praised Conant.
"I think Barb Conant has been a strong advocate for Kansas higher education," Hutton said. "She was particularly helpful in explaining the recent actions of the Legislature and what it meant for higher education."
Prior to working for the board, Conant was spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services for seven years. She is a 1975 graduate of Kansas State University.
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