Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway avoided the "E" word when talking with the State Board of Education on Wednesday.
Hemenway, a supporter of teaching evolution, told board members meeting in Lawrence that they and higher education officials should work together to produce an educated work force.
Conservatives, who have a 6-4 majority on the board, have gained international attention for proposing new science standards that attempt to cast doubt on the theory of evolution.
Hemenway has stated publicly that evolution must be taught, and other KU officials have blamed the anti-evolution board members for hurting the state's image.
But on Wednesday, Hemenway steered away from confrontation, urging cooperation toward common goals.
"We will not have a successful Kansas economy unless we have a successful Kansas educational system," the chancellor said.
Rick Ginsberg, dean of KU's School of Education, also spoke to the board about the importance of quality public schools and institutions of higher education.