Only a few months into his tenure as interim dean of students, Frank DeSalvo is looking to delegate what has historically been one of the office's most high-profile duties.
Specifically, DeSalvo is looking for someone to lead the singing of "I'm a Jayhawk" and other cheers at Traditions Night at Memorial Stadium, the annual introduction of KU lore to freshmen.
It's a duty Richard Johnson, the former dean of students, took on the last several years.
"My gifts are not in the vocal area," DeSalvo said. "If you wanted to see a stadium empty out quickly, that would be the way to do it. It would work against all the things our admissions office has tried to do."
Besides singing, though, DeSalvo is working to keep the dean of student's office working smoothly during a time of abrupt change.
In April, Johnson was suddenly fired for undisclosed inappropriate behavior. KU officials have never said why they fired him, but a KU spokeswoman said the dean of students was a role model for students and "must be above reproach and be professional at all times."
Johnson, who also was associate vice provost for student success, had served as dean of students since March 2001.
DeSalvo, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at KU since 1991, was named interim dean of students and associate vice provost for student success. He said he had no intention of pursuing the job on a permanent basis.
The position oversees the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, Legal Services for Students, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center, Recreation Services and the Department of Student Housing.
"At this point, my goal is to assure the duties of the dean of students will continue to be handled, and make sure there's no gap in services while a permanent successor is chosen," DeSalvo said. "Hopefully students will not notice a blip in services."
Marlesa Roney, vice provost for student success, said the search for a new dean of students would begin in the fall.
"We're waiting until fall to make sure we have student input in the process," she said, noting many students are gone during the summer.
She said she expected a search committee to be appointed in early September. The job description may be retooled as a result of discussions being held with students and other KU administrators.
"If we're able to get the search moving along in September, a potential starting date might be January," she said.
DeSalvo, meanwhile, said he wanted to make sure students had the support services they've grown to expect. He said the new dean of students would need a strong interest in the KU student body.
"I think the position primarily involves connecting with students," he said. "To do that, you have to be at least moderately outgoing and have a real love of students and student life.
"It's important for the dean of students to be making firsthand contact with students day in and day out. They see the dean as their representative and their voice on campus."