Kansas University is losing an important and valuable asset with the upcoming departure of Lied Center Director Jackie Davis, who is to become executive director of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
Davis has led the Lied Center of Kansas for the last seven years and has done a superb job of overseeing the development of this cultural jewel. Prior to the opening of the Lied Center, she was director of Kansas University's Concert Series.
In all her roles, she has injected enthusiasm and commitment, always striving for excellence. She is recognized throughout the country for her leadership and record in building highly respected Lied Center programs. The International Arts Manager Magazine recently cited the Lied as one of the nation's top 10 university arts presenters.
In her role with the Lied Center, Davis has helped enrich the lives of thousands of people from a wide geographic area. With the strong encouragement of Christina Hixson, trustee of the Lied Foundation Trust, which provided the majority of funds to build and launch the Lied Center, Davis has led a major effort to develop a strong outreach program to encourage residents throughout the state to attend and enjoy Lied events.
Also with the urging and strong financial backing of Hixson, Davis developed a program that provides free tickets to a wide range of young people and adults, so they can have the opportunity to see performances at the Lied Center. Hixson, by the way, also has provided funds to help pay the costs of bringing certain performers to the Lied.
The university needs more people like Davis. She is a pusher, no doubt about that, sometimes stepping on toes, but she gets things done. As noted above, she always strives for excellence and innovation, not settling for mediocrity.
There might be chaos at KU if every position at the university were filled with people of Davis' drive, but it would be good for the school if a few more people on Mount Oread exhibited the desire to have their departments or operations excel and be recognized for their programs and innovation. Davis did not accept mediocrity or lazy people.
The New York Library for the Performing Arts is fortunate to acquire Davis with her enthusiasm, her national reputation and desire to build performing arts programs into the best in the country.
She leaves the Lied Center stage with much applause and good wishes for success in New York. Now it is up to university officials to launch an exhaustive search to find a new Lied director who will build on the foundation of success created by Davis and her excellent staff.