KU's 16th chancellor, Robert Hemenway, announced Dec. 8, 2008, that he would retire at the end of the current academic year. He's been chancellor for 14 years.
When Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway announced his intention to step down from that post in December, the Kansas Board of Regents moved quickly to start looking for a replacement.
The regents appointed former Kansas City Power & Light executive Drue Jennings as the chairman of a search committee to find Hemenway’s successor.
Jennings and the rest of the committee, composed of faculty, alumni and other university and community stakeholders, announced an aggressive timetable to name a replacement to avoid a vacuum of leadership at KU.
Jennings said that search process was not affected by the announced departure of the No. 2 administrative official at the university, when Provost Richard Lariviere announced that he would leave to accept the presidency of the University of Oregon.
Both Lariviere and Hemenway are scheduled to leave their current jobs on July 1.
“I don’t think it’s made it any more difficult for us,” Jennings said of Lariviere’s announcement. “I’m still very confident to have someone identified by June. I really want us to hold to that to the point that we can.”
Jennings said that the committee would be willing to work around scheduling conflicts for the right candidate.
He said the vacancy in the provost’s office could provide an opportunity for the search as well, as the new chancellor would have the opportunity to bring in a trusted staff member for a key leadership position, or to potentially reorganize the existing structure of leadership at the university.
Reggie Robinson, president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents, has told regents that the search was in its candidate-gathering phase, with applicants being submitted to the search firm hired to assist with the process.
William Funk, of R. William Funk and Associates, is assisting the committee with its search, and is providing candidate résumés and other information about potential candidates to the committee using a password-protected Web site.
Jennings said a “soft deadline” for applicants was scheduled for the end of March, but that any qualified applicants would receive consideration up until the very end of the search process.
Suggestions have been coming from all over the university and outside community, Robinson told regents.
The committee is “out aggressively recruiting folks into the candidate pool,” said Robinson, who serves on the committee.
He and the regents are also dealing with top university executive searches at two other institutions in the state.
A search for a leader to replace Kansas State University President Jon Wefald recently concluded with the hiring of Kirk Schulz, the vice president for research and economic development at Mississippi State University.
Regents are also wrapping up a search to replace Tom Bryant, the president of Pittsburg State University.
Still, despite the challenges, including a strained state budget, Jennings and others remain confident that KU continues to offer a good opportunity for the right kind of leader.
“I think we’re in good shape,” he said.