Kansas University has enlisted the help of a former aide to Sen. Bob Dole in the search for a new director of the Dole Institute of Politics.
Kim Wells, a former state Republican Party chairman who led two Dole Senate campaigns, is making phone calls for KU in an attempt to identify potential candidates for the Dole Institute job.
"It's a good job," Wells said. "It ought to be attractive to a lot of different types of people."
The director position has been open since Richard Norton Smith left Dec. 1 to lead the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. Smith oversaw construction of the 28,000-square-foot building on west campus and its dedication, which brought national dignitaries, including former President Jimmy Carter, to Lawrence.
Steve McAllister, dean of KU's School of Law, has served as interim director since Smith left. McAllister at first said he wouldn't rule out being considered for the permanent job but has since indicated he wanted to return to the law school full-time.
Wells, who lives in Lawrence and practices law for a firm in Kansas City, Mo., declined to name potential candidates and said it was too early for any to be potential front-runners.
He said those he had contacted for advice included former Dole aide Sheila Burke, now deputy secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, and former Kansas Congressmen Jim Slattery and Dan Glickman. Slattery now practices law in Washington, D.C., and Glickman is director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Wells said it would be unlikely KU would hire someone with the qualifications of Smith, who had directed four presidential libraries in addition to writing several books and making frequent TV appearances. Wells said he didn't have a particular type of person in mind that would be perfect for the job.
"Senator Dole wants it to remain bipartisan," Wells said. "We've talked to Democrats that might be interested, and we've talked to a lot of Republicans. We're getting ideas from people from academics to real life political experience or somewhere in-between."
Later this month, Chancellor Robert Hemenway plans to appoint a small search committee to provide him advice in hiring the new director.
Hemenway said he'd like to have a director in place by the start of the new fiscal year July 1, or at the latest the beginning of the 2004-2005 academic year. He said McAllister had agreed to serve until a new director was hired, though officials initially said they hoped to hire someone by the end of this academic year.
"Steve has been doing an excellent job," Hemenway said. "Steve has told me he would continue to serve until the new person has been appointed. It's not like we have to have a short time frame -- I don't feel a pressure there. There are all kinds of things going on at the Dole Institute, but we do need to finish the search."