Topeka Kansas State University President Jon Wefald announced Monday he plans to retire at the end of the next academic year. He is 70.
Wefald has been at the Manhattan campus since 1986. In that time, enrollment has grown from 16,000 students to more than 23,000 this year. He said with completion of a major fundraising campaign that it was time to step aside.
"I feel this is an opportune time to retire and facilitate an orderly change of institutional leadership," Wefald said in a statement. "We have been blessed to have an opportunity to work with so many outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni, regents and friends of the institution over these many years."
Wefald was chancellor of the State University System of Minnesota from 1982 to 1986 before coming to Kansas. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1959 from Pacific Lutheran, a master in political science and history in 1961 from Washington State University and doctorate in history in 1965 from the University of Michigan.
Among the accomplishments under his tenure include increasing private donations, boosting academic research grants and improving the campus infrastructure.
Kansas State is among five sites under consideration for locating the new the $451 million National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to replace an aging laboratory on Plum Island, N.Y. A decision on where to place the facility is expected later this year.
Kansas State is a member of the Big 12 Conference and has improved its stature in both football and basketball standings in recent years.
Board of Regents spokesman Kip Peterson said the board likely will discuss the process of replacing Wefald when it meets Wednesday and Thursday. He said one option is to create a search committee to conduct a nationwide search through the remainder of the year.