Two fine chairmen have set a new standard of leadership for the Kansas Board of Regents.
Those interested in higher education in Kansas should appreciate the efforts of Bill Docking of Arkansas City and Clay Blair of Mission.
These two men have written a new chapter on the responsibilities and mission of those serving as chairmen of the Kansas Board of Regents.
Docking chaired the regents from July 1998 until last July, when he was replaced by Blair.
For too many years, men and women used various means to gain appointment to the regents, then didn't have the commitment or ability to tell and sell the story and importance of higher education throughout the state. They enjoyed the attention they received as regents, but they didn't follow through with sufficient hands-on work in lobbying for better state funding and traveling from community to community stressing the importance of higher education to the future of Kansas.
Docking changed the role and actions of a regent when he took over the chairmanship. He traveled to all state-aided universities to make first-hand observations. He played a significant role in bringing the six regents universities together with the community colleges to form a unified system of higher education. He traveled thousands of miles to visit and hear the thoughts and concerns of those in higher education, and he was quick to take every advantage to hammer home the importance of adequate funding for the schools.
Blair has not missed a beat in making the transition from Docking's leadership. He is intensely interested in working with state legislators to maximize state resources with private resources to help build a finer state system of education. He, too, seizes every opportunity to tell the story and stress the importance of higher education.
He believes colleges and universities should be run in a sound, businesslike manner. He believes college administrators should be held accountable for the manner in which they oversee their schools. He believes in thorough reviews and performance assessments of college and university leaders, and he, too, travels thousands of miles around the state to encourage Kansans to become more concerned and aware of the important benefits higher education brings to the state.
Blair believes each of the state schools has particular strengths, and these assets should be used for the good of that particular geographical area as well as the rest of the state. He does not like costly duplication of programs, and he continually stresses efficiency.
Blair is doing a top-flight job for the regents schools as well as the state, and it is hoped Gov. Graves realizes and appreciates the job the energetic Johnson County developer is doing. It would be a serious mistake not to reappoint Blair to another term on the regents board.
Blair may not be the easiest and most comfortable person with whom to work but he enjoys the respect of his fellow regents and school leaders. He expects results. He and Docking have conducted business in a way that minimizes politics and political influence in the activities of the regents, and administrators of the regents schools know the regents are expecting top performance from these school officials and a wise use of state funds.
This is the kind of leader that Kansas needs to have as chair of the board of regents.