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Archive for Sunday, September 18, 2005

Important hires

Kansas University search committees should take the time to find the best possible candidates for two key deanships.

September 18, 2005

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Don't take the easy way out!

Kansas University officials currently are looking for two new deans, one for the School of Law and one for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Both schools are important, and it is vital that two truly outstanding individuals be selected for the deanships.

Again, don't take the easy way out. Officials involved in the search processes should seek out the very best, not settle for someone who might be an easy, convenient and politically correct choice. Please don't buy the idea speed is essential in finding the new deans. Take whatever time is required to encourage highly successful individuals to consider the Mount Oread positions.

KU does not have a sterling record in some recent hires. Those on some search committees did not do the necessary homework, resulting in KU being conned into taking castoffs from other schools. In too many cases, little attention has been paid to the candidates' spouses, who play an important role and also should be evaluated in the search process.

If KU is to move up in national academic rankings, the excellence of its deans plays a major role. Deans set the tone for their respective schools. They establish goals and challenges for the schools and, in today's academic systems, also are expected to be superior fundraisers.

Again, please do not take the easy way out. Don't try to win points in the political correctness game. Go for the best.

The law school search committee is being chaired by former Dean Mike Davis, now overseeing the school on a temporary basis. He will do an excellent job in the law school search. The College search effort is being led by Mabel Rice. Rice is one of the university's outstanding faulty members and is held in high regard by her associates. Like Davis, she can be counted on to do a good job of chairing the search committee.

The College, by the way, is the university's largest school, with more than 15,000 students and more than 50 departments. Former Dean Kim Wilcox recently became the provost for Michigan State University and is likely to continue to climb the academic administration ladder.

KU should go after people and hire individuals other schools want, not individuals who are unhappy where they are or are out of work and looking for a job.

Once more, take the time necessary to select truly outstanding individuals and don't be pressured into acting too quickly or being politically correct. The caliber of individuals selected for the deanships will offer an insight into just how serious university officials are in achieving academic excellence.

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