Archive for Monday, December 8, 2008

KU Chancellor Hemenway will step down June 30

Chancellor Robert Hemenway, in doorway at left, enters a press conference Monday where he announced he will step down from his post effective June 30, 2009. At far right is Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Lariviere.

Chancellor Robert Hemenway, in doorway at left, enters a press conference Monday where he announced he will step down from his post effective June 30, 2009. At far right is Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Lariviere.

December 8, 2008, 9:42 a.m. Updated December 8, 2008, 12:38 p.m.


Chancellor Robert Hemenway's career at KU

KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway told the Lawrence Noon Rotary Club on Monday that KU underwent a fair amount of change during his tenure.

11:56 p.m. As for the biggest remaining challenge, Hemenway says the state budget will take a majority of his time between now and June 30. And with that, the press conference has ended. Stay tuned to all day, as we'll have more information about Hemenway's tenure as well as reaction from leaders across the state.

11:53 p.m. Hemenway says it will be up to the regents, whether an interim chancellor will be named after Hemenway resigns on June 30.

He also notes that he's had a heck of a good time in the job. Says he's thought "every day" about whether the university is being served well by his being here.

11:51 p.m. Hemenway says he was really struck by a phone call last night from one of his sons, who offered to be at the press conference.

He said his son wanted to know if he needed to show support for his dad.

He says it was really touching because his son felt that way, despite the fact that he was often on the road.

11:49 p.m. "The goal of my successor is how do you make a better university every day that you're here," Hemenway says.

He adds that he's trying to make a better university step-by-step.

11:47 p.m. "These are hard jobs. You work hard at them. They really are 24-7 jobs. -- Hemenway.

11:45 p.m. Hemenway says he came to this decision fairly recently. He said he's discussed it with the regents who are comfortable with the timetable. He notes that the next chancellor will need to be adept at dealing with difficult economic times.

11:43 a.m. Hemenway says he'll spend the first year after his retirement to work on a book about intercollegiate athletics and American values. He said he intends to teach in 2010.

Hemenway noted he's been a chancellor for 14 years, an unusually long time when the national average for a university leader is seven years. He notes the KU basketball and debate championships.

11:40 a.m. Lynn Bretz is introducing the Hemenway. Notes he's the 16th chancellor. Will read a statement then take a few questions. Bretz says to take advantage of the questions we have.

11:30 a.m. There's a throng of local media here this morning. Most of the Kansas City and Topeka TV stations, the Kansas City Star, the Topeka Capital-Journal, the University Daily Kansan, etc.

KU Provost Richard Lariviere, who could likely prove to be a candidate for the soon-to-be-open job himself, KU Endowment Association President Dale Seuferling, KU Student Body President Adam McGonigle, KU Chief Financial Officer Teresa Gordzica and other high-ranking university leaders are all here.

We're now awaiting the chancellor's arrival.

11:15 p.m. We're here on the campus of Kansas University for an 11:30 press conference with KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway, who announced earlier this morning that he would retire at the end of the academic year.

Go ahead and post whatever questions you have and we'll try and get them answered.

Our earlier story:

Kansas University Chancellor Robert E. Hemenway announced Monday morning that he will step down from the post effective June 30, 2009.

“As of June I will have completed 14 years as chancellor — an unusually long tenure in these times,” Hemenway said in a university news release. “I am grateful to the members of the Kansas Board of Regents for this opportunity and their continuous support. Being KU chancellor has been a great honor and a demanding job.”

Hemenway, who joined the university in 1995, said there is no “good” time to step down. But in light of the university’s many recent achievements, “I will return to the classroom knowing the University of Kansas is in excellent shape and ready for the challenges that face our nation’s leading public universities,” he said in a statement.

Donna Shank, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, said, “The people of Kansas and KU alumni worldwide have benefited tremendously from Bob Hemenway’s service. The accomplishments of the university during his firm and progressive leadership speak for themselves. KU has grown in size, strength and reputation.”

Shank said the regents would appoint a committee to begin a national search for Hemenway’s successor.

In a personal message sent earlier to faculty, staff and students, Hemenway said he will be on sabbatical leave next academic year to work on a book about intercollegiate athletics and American values, and then return to teaching and scholarly research at KU.

Del Shankel, who had served as a self-described “utility infielder” as a chancellor between former chancellor Gene Budig and Hemenway, said not to expect too much turmoil in the coming months.

“I think we should expect that Chancellor Hemenway will continue to do a very effective job for the time he has remaining in office,” Shankel said. “I think you will see the regents put together a very effective search process.”

He said the job should attract some quality candidates.

“This is clearly one of the top state universities in the country,” he said. “There should be a lot of interest from some very good people.”

He praised Hemenway, 67, for the work at KU.

“Except for the current financial problems of the state, the university is in good condition,” Shankel said.

He praised Hemenway’s ability to shepherd through some difficult tuition increases without major impacts on attendance, his hiring of Athletics Director Lew Perkins and his ability to create the KU Hospital Authority, separating it from the state and into an independent entity.

Shankel said he’d be happy to help the university’s transition in any way he can — with the exception of taking the helm again, which he had done twice before in times of change, in 1980 and in 1994.

“I don’t have enough energy to do that at age 81,” he said.

Hemenway was a pleasure to work with, said Howard Mossberg, a former dean of pharmacy who served in several other executive roles at the KU, including as vice chancellor for research and graduate studies.

“He’s had a pretty good tenure here,” he said. “I have nothing but good wishes for him.”

Mossberg recalled that one of Hemenway’s early priorities was to spin off the KU Center for Research into its own independent nonprofit organization.

“When he landed on the campus, in April of that year, he and I visited and he said that’s exactly what he wanted to do.”

He said other chancellors had not been able to accomplish the measure, which allowed more flexibility in research funding at KU, taking some power away from the chancellor’s office.

“He gladly gave up some flexibility,” Mossberg said. “And I applaud him for that.”

Mossberg, who is heading the Self Graduate Fellowship program, said that after working with the chancellor in several roles, he always found him to be a pleasant and agreeable person.

“I’m glad for Bob Hemenway,” he said. “I think he deserves some peace and quiet.”


OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 5 months ago

Six months notice... isn't that kind of short in a job like his?Someone got sick of being chancellor, or someone got sick of him being chancellor, I think.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 5 months ago

His "the University of Kansas is in excellent shape" comment seems like a jab of sorts. Translation: Let history show that the State drove KU into the ground, not me.But maybe I'm wrong. He's planning to remain at KU.

Luxor 9 years, 5 months ago

Dad, he won't stay. Admins who get put back in the classroom never do.

sourpuss 9 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

John Hamm 9 years, 5 months ago

Yeah!Now, maybe, there'll be a return to values at KU!

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 9 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Connacht 9 years, 5 months ago

Glad to see him go. Anyone who won't stand up for professors because he fears the public backlash doesn't deserve the Chancellorship.

manus_flexibilis 9 years, 5 months ago

sabbatical! How do you tie sports to the church or whatever it is your writing about? What is it, praying for another national championship? This is total rubbish how some can make up shiz for time off.

promitida 9 years, 5 months ago

What's really great about this is : none of you have ANY idea what you're talking about.

KU_cynic 9 years, 5 months ago

Five distinct reactions:1. Thanks for years of service, Chancellor, and best wishes in this new stage of your life.2. Announcing a resignation mid-year is unconventional except for grave health or other personal reasons; my prayers if this is the case.3. This has been too long in coming. Bob has been ineffective for the past few years. There are plenty of good reasons that he should step down, or, more accurately, should have stepped down at least a year ago.4. By hanging on too long and giving short notice (even if for reasons such as ill health), Bob has deprived KU the chance to search for a successor from a position of strength and in an orderly fashion. In contrast, K-State has had plenty of head start in searching for a new chancellor in an orderly fashion. However, the opening at KU may impede KSU's search, as anyone good enough for KSU might hesitate in order to be considered for the KU job instead. 5. Is Darth Provost going to take control?

Deb Stavin 9 years, 5 months ago

I just hope Lew Perkins is not on the search committee.

moderate1 9 years, 5 months ago

With our economic forecast not looking good, school tuition at an all time high, budget cuts are sure to come, sounds like a good time to get out

beawolf 9 years, 5 months ago

Replacing the chancellor will not be a difficult process. First off, very little of the day-to-day administrative functions are based in his office. Almost all of these functions flow through the Provost. Although it is important that he surrounds himself with qualified personnel. A chancellors role is primarily as a figure-head. He spends most of his time away from campus. I would guess this is one of the prime reasons he is leaving. 67 is rather old for most university administrators at his level, so it will be good to see some fresh, young blood in that capacity. Hopefully someone NOT from KU as new perspectives are desperately needed.All in all Hemenway is leaving KU in pretty good shape. I've visited many campuses over the last few years and believe me, they are all struggling financially.

nobody1793 9 years, 5 months ago

What's with the minute-by-minute updates?

KansasVoter 9 years, 5 months ago

Wow! First KSU President Jon Wefald retires, now Hemenway steps down. Those are two BIG losses for the state of Kansas and our University system. Both of those men leave big shoes to fill.

kansasplains 9 years, 5 months ago

It's ABOUT TIME. We need a chancellor who speaks for all the students and townspeople, not just the well-to-do. It is good riddance!!!

sourpuss 9 years, 5 months ago

Ooh, my comment was removed. Okay, how about this: Don't let the door hit you, sir and gentleman.Good riddance. He was the worst chancellor KU ever had and I had the displeasure of attending and working there during his "reign". Better times ahead.

guesswho 9 years, 5 months ago

Sourpuss,First, I'm glad you are living up to your name. Second, and to other negative commentators...I am amazed at how people can give such comparisons (worst, best) when they really can't give any comparison to how someone else might have done given the same set of circumstances. Leaders are often unpopular, and have to make tough choices that inevitable irritate a lot of people. He may have made some mistakes, but he has done a lot of good things, too. To me, many Kansans seem terribly concerned about 'fairness' to all; and he has to do his job, which is to make the best decisions for the University of Kansas.

sjschlag 9 years, 5 months ago

Hopefully the new chancellor they choose will have the spine to stand up to Kansas Athletics, Inc. and represent the will of the students. For far too long Mr. Perkins has been allowed free reign over the University. It's time someone put him back on his leash.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 9 years, 5 months ago

This is the funniest set of comments I've seen in a long time. Darth Provost? How about Death Provost? I've seen dead bodies with more life than the picture above shows.To the people who think Hemenway's unpopularity is because of his courageous decision making... ahahahaha teeheee whoa baby ahahahahahahahahah, you've got to be kidding? If he returns to the classroom, send him to Mizzou, that's where he belongs.

Bob Zimmerman 9 years, 5 months ago

Amazing. Just amazing. It's quite obvious that most of the bloggers have absolutely no clue on what it takes to run a major university. I assume that most of the bloggers are either students ("hey, bud...let's party"), deadbeats who can't hold a job ("the world owes me a living, damn it"), or disgruntled KU employees ("I've got better ideas than those idiots in Strong hall"). Just spend some time with him and the Provost and you will realize just how complex this multi-billion dollar operation is. But that would take too much work and it's more fun to make stupid comments on a blog.

KU_cynic 9 years, 5 months ago

idiot_wind:I'm a KU faculty member who's been associated -- as a student, grad student, and faculty member -- at several universities. I've seen talent and leadership skills better than Hemenway's, and sometimes worse. Hemenway is a nice guy who has had his good days and his bad at KU. But, the unfortunate fact is that lately the not-so-great days have outnumbered the truly admirable days. Surely one attribute of a good leader is the self-awareness to recognize when one is not advancing the institution. On that dimension Hemenway has been a disappointment.

footballguy49 9 years, 5 months ago

Wonder how much money he's taking with him out the door?

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