As one search for a top Kansas University administrator formally ended with the installation of a new chancellor this week, two more top academic positions remain open.
Provost Richard Lariviere has left KU to become the president at the University of Oregon, and Joseph Steinmetz, who had been dean of KU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, left to become an executive dean and vice provost at Ohio State University.
That left Danny Anderson, vice provost for academic affairs, as the school’s new interim provost, and Greg Simpson, professor and chairman of the psychology department, as KU’s new interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Both leaders said they would seek to maintain continuity in their position and for the school as new Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little takes over.
Gray-Little has said that she intends to move quickly in assembling a committee to find a new provost for KU upon her arrival.
Depending on how that process goes, a search for a liberal arts dean could occur soon after, or could be delayed until a new provost is in place, she said.
And that’s not all, either.
Another vacancy will have to be filled, too, on the KU campus, as the school looks for its first Dean of Music, heading the school that replaced some parts of the old School of Fine Arts, effective this July.
Though some leaders could see the leadership vacancies as a chance to put their stamp on the school immediately, Gray-Little said she didn’t necessarily see it that way.
“It’s something that you could look at as an opportunity, but frankly, the better situation would have been to have a very highly functioning provost continuing in place,” Gray-Little said. “I think that we are lucky to have been able to appoint someone in the provost’s office into the interim position, so that provides some stability and continuity.”
Anderson comes to the post after serving as KU’s vice provost for academic affairs, where he assisted in devising a plan that allowed out-of-state family members of KU graduates to receive discounted tuition rates and oversaw programs seeking to enhance global awareness among students.
He advanced through the academic ranks at KU, where he has been since 1988, serving as a Spanish professor, then department chair and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for interdisciplinary programs before becoming vice provost in 2008.
Simpson has been chairman of the psychology department since 1999 and served as an acting associate liberal arts dean of social sciences at KU from 2005-06.
Lariviere was chosen in 2006 after an 18-member committee, including representatives from the faculty, KU Medical Center and staff, helped winnow the field to four finalists, before Lariviere’s appointment.
Steinmetz had served since 2005, when he came to KU from Indiana University after being chosen from a field of four candidates.
For Gray-Little, the vacancies weren’t a big factor in accepting the chancellor’s position.
“That was not one of the drivers,” Gray-Little said. “But I guess I can look at the bright side if I have to.”