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Archive for Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hemenway’s legacy

Many goals achieved in 14 years

In a press conference in December, Chancellor Robert Hemenway announced he would step down from his post effective June 30, 2009.

In a press conference in December, Chancellor Robert Hemenway announced he would step down from his post effective June 30, 2009.

June 28, 2009

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Hemenway's serves last day as chancellor

Observers say Kansas University’s 16th chancellor will be remembered for his contributions in medicine, athletics and academics. Enlarge video

Chancellor Roberty Hemenway and his wife his wife, Leah, January 8, 1995, visit with members of media at the Adams Alumni Center.

Chancellor Roberty Hemenway and his wife his wife, Leah, January 8, 1995, visit with members of media at the Adams Alumni Center.

Robert Hemenway's career at KU

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.

Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway ends his 14-year run atop Mount Oread on Tuesday, leaving behind a legacy of work in KU’s academic, athletic and medical fields.

He’ll hand the reins to Bernadette Gray-Little, who moves into the second floor of Strong Hall on Aug. 15. She has said she intends to focus on undergraduate graduation rates and increasing private fundraising.

When Hemenway was hired, he was already looking ahead.

“Ten or 15 years from now, when I’m being put out to pasture, I would hope that people would be able to look back and say there are a number of things that are now characteristic of the University of Kansas which were not characteristic before, and we attribute some of that to the fact that Chancellor Hemenway was here,” Hemenway said in 1995 when he was introduced as chancellor.

Hemenway declined an interview request this month seeking to discuss his tenure as chancellor and his time ahead — he plans to take a year off to write a book about intercollegiate athletics and then return to teaching — but several other people with whom he worked said he will be remembered in a number of different areas.

Medicine

Donna Shank, chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents, said Hemenway will be remembered for his ability to understand the role of major college athletics, raise test scores and admission standards, and institute strong fundraising.

But, in her mind, Hemenway would be most remembered for issues at the KU Medical Center and KU Hospital campus in Kansas City, Kan. — the first being his efforts to separate KU Hospital from state control.

“That was his idea,” Shank said. “He got that accomplished, and I think it’s worked out very well.”

Bill Docking, a former member of the Kansas Board of Regents, remembered Hemenway visiting him in his office in Arkansas City, as he did with all the other regents, leading up to the decision to make the hospital an independent public authority in 1998.

Hemenway took the lead in coordinating support at the state level, including legislators and other stakeholders, always taking along facts and figures and key hospital and medical center players to drum up support.

The hospital was hurting under state control, Docking said, and needed to be spun off and freed from bureaucratic hurdles.

“It was an enormous undertaking, and it succeeded,” he said. “He deserves great credit for getting that done.”

Then “the hard work started,” Docking said, as KU Hospital, KU Medical Center and KU Physicians Inc. hammered out an affiliation agreement detailing how the entities would work together.

Shank said the chancellor also will be remembered long into the future for beginning KU’s current march toward National Cancer Institute designation.

Hemenway has made the designation the university’s top research priority.

Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, said that bold move paid off.

“A university is a big, complex organization with multiple constituencies and many different priorities,” he said. “Anytime someone actually lists those priorities, the most likely thing you’re going to do is make enemies.”

In listing it as a top priority, however, Hemenway — himself a prostate cancer survivor — has garnered regional support and the attention of the National Cancer Institute, Jensen said.

Sports

Hemenway, an athletics enthusiast who has described himself as the No. 1 Jayhawk fan, saw KU’s men’s basketball team win a national title and the football team win the Orange Bowl in 2008.

After Al Bohl’s brief and tumultuous tenure as KU athletic director, Hemenway hired Lew Perkins, who has brought athletic success and large fundraising efforts.

Under Perkins’ oversight, the athletic program also has faced criticism. Earlier this year, for example, plans surfaced indicating that KU intended to build a $24.6 million Olympic Village facility for softball and track, which raised questions of whether a true symbiotic relationship existed between the university and Kansas Athletics as one braced for budget cuts while the other planned major capital improvements.

The athletic program continues to aggressively raise money through programs that Perkins instituted, such as a point value system that awards donors with priority seating opportunities at events.

Hemenway oversaw more than $100 million in construction and renovation to athletics facilities — everything from modifications to Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium to a new boathouse recently constructed for the Jayhawk rowing squad.

Paul Davis, a state representative from Lawrence who has worked with Hemenway, said athletic success can spill over into other aspects of the university, such as increased fundraising opportunities.

“When you’re able to compete for national championships and go to bowl games, you’re going to see all kinds of collateral effects that have a positive impact on many different aspects of the university,” Davis said.

Bohl hired football coach Mark Mangino, who has helped lead a turnaround of that program, and head basketball coach Bill Self has said Hemenway’s leadership was one of the aspects that attracted him to the university.

The chancellor also served on the NCAA’s Executive Committee and its Division I Board of Directors, which handles legislation and rulemaking for the body that oversees major college athletics.

After Hemenway steps down from his position, he has said he intends to write a book on intercollegiate athletics.

“He became a national voice in intercollegiate athletics with the NCAA, and KU athletic teams flourished,” said former KU Chancellor Gene Budig, who later went on to be the president of Major League Baseball’s American League. “He will be remembered for this era.”

Academics

Several people who followed KU during the time Hemenway was chancellor remarked on his ability to raise the stature of the university’s academic and research mission.

Davis said that would be what he remembered most about KU’s 16th chancellor.

“I think that he was instrumental in charting a new course for the university in terms of research capabilities,” Davis said, particularly in what has been accomplished on its West Campus.

A renewed focus on biosciences research and development have been a hallmark of Hemenway’s tenure, Davis said. Hemenway has overseen more than $150 million in construction of new research labs and $60 million toward student housing.

KU celebrated a record enrollment in fall 2008, with 30,102 students, but the number had remained relatively stable in years past, and had declined slightly the last two years.

It hasn’t been all successes under Hemenway — the university never attained Hemenway’s goal of becoming a top 25 public research institution under his watch, and, facing dwindling state support, tuition has increased dramatically during his tenure.

Budig praised his successor, saying he admired anyone who served 14 years in a higher education leadership position, calling it “a real test of endurance.”

“He was successful in greatly increasing the number of research dollars coming into the university, especially in the sciences,” Budig said.

KU last year announced it was the recipient of $20.2 million in National Institutes of Health funding, the largest federal research award in Kansas history.

As former KU Chancellor Archie Dykes pointed out, Hemenway has the support of many people involved with the university, as recent events commemorating his tenure have shown.

“If I had left there with the friendship and support that he has, I’d be very happy,” Dykes said.

Comments

John Frook 5 years, 3 months ago

  1. In reporting this story, did it occur to the editors or reporter Andy Hyland to ask Chancellor Hemenway what he intended to do during his greater than $2 million in salary compensation, 14-year run that he did not succeed at doing? Did anyone call any of the independent consultants that analyze state universities to see whether medicine, sports and new construction are in any way different than the strategies of any Chancellor during his time period? Did you speak with any of the developers who were counting on a research corridor down Wakarusa, as Chancellor Hemenway promised, and contributed dollars that are now only being recouped (and in some cases not) by westward housing expansion? Did you find any university materials from the time Chancellor Hemenway began that promised that research corridor, or any projects of economic growth to the community? Finally, did you speak with any analysts of major state Universities to see were the salaries granted the top ranking officials at KU, and top ranking KU sports officials, rank in comparison to others at the time they were hired? My suggestion is that the reporter Mr. Hyland and the Journal-World simple dedicate more space, time and research to such coverage as this. Finally, what was the median first-year salary of a KU undergraduate who secured employment in the first-year of Chancellor Hemenway's run, what are the media salaries of associate professor in liberal arts today versus the beginning of his run? Tell me those facts please, local media. This is a major story. This Chancellor is accountable only to you. Apparently, you find him wildly successful. Do you believe that research into the media created during the first half of his run, and do you really believe independent research would back up the cheerful facts in your story? What were the enrollment increases versus other universities? How did we do on tuition? Did we hold out ``best-schools'' rankings, or improve on them? How about overall employment, and teacher-student ratios, and student-to-student-support=service staff ratios? Not during this difficult economic time, but over the entire run? I do agree, Chancellor Hemenway benefitted greatly from his role as a former English professor turned college top dog, and I am unsurprised that past leaders -- some of whom seem to damn him with faint praise in this story -- have good things to say. I would expect the beneficiaries of the fed incredible contracts he held out would repay the favor with a blowhardy quote. By the way, what was the total compensation Chancellor Hemenway received during this time period? And what deferred compensation – if any – will he receive? Absent those facts, are you the Journal-World and you the reporter happy with your work, and will this work be submitted for awards? Thank you.
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gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 3 months ago

Just wait for the audit. That will make interesting reading.

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John Frook 5 years, 3 months ago

Did it occur to you to ask Chancellor Hemenway what he did not succeed in doing that he intended to do at the outset of his 14-year run? Did anyone call any of the independent consultants that analyze state universities to see whether medicine, sports and new construction -- cited as grand successes during his tenure -- were in any way more innovative, more efficient, or grander than any of the medicine, sports or new construction achievements of any Chancellor in a comparable position anywhere else during Chancellor Hemingway's tenure? Did the Journal-World speak with any of the private developers who listened to Chancellor Hemingway when he stated about a decade or more or ago that we could count on an active bioresearch corridor down Wakarusa? Did you find any historic comments by Chancellor Hemenway began that you felt worth challenging him on before playing him on the cover? Did you speak with any analysts of major state Universities to see whether salaries granted to the top ranking officials at KU during Chancellor Hemingway's skein could be rationalized against the salaries granted to similar officials at comparable universities? Moving on, please tell us what was the median first-year salary of a KU undergraduate who secured employment in the first-year of Chancellor Hemenway's run, and what was the median first-year salary of a KU undergraduate who secured employment in the last 5 years of Chencellor Hemenway's run? Too, please tell us the median salary of an associate professor in the liberal arts disciplines at KU today versus the median salary of the same type of person at the beginning of his run? Tell us those facts please. This Chancellor is leaving after 14 years. He is accountable only to you. Apparently, you find him wildly successful. Did you research any of the media created by Hemingway's quotes or media in the first five years of his tenure, and if so where are the hard questions and good answers in this story? What were the enrollment increases versus other universities? How did he do on tuition? Did we hold out “best-schools'' rankings, or improve on them, or have them go down? How about teacher-to-student ratios, and student-to-student-support-service staff ratios? I do agree, Chancellor Hemenway benefitted greatly from his role as a former English professor turned college top dog, and I am unsurprised that past leaders — some of whom seem to damn him with faint praise in this story — have good things to say about him. Also, I would expect his beneficiaries -- the highly paid people in this story, hired by Hemingway -- to repay favors with laudatory quotes. Wouldn't you? Finally, by the way, what was the total compensation Chancellor Hemenway received during this time period? And what deferred compensation – if any – will he receive? Absent those facts, are you the Journal-World and you the reporter happy with your work, and will this work be submitted for awards? Thank you.

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wordgenie8 5 years, 3 months ago

I find the Sticks_Hick posts about this article very thoughtful; they show an analytic and inquiring cast of mind not common among LJ World bloggers. These posts importantly probe for and request accountability and integrity on the parts of KU and the LJ World and critique the perhaps over cozy, mutual admiration society relationship between Hemenway and local media. What relevance does posting history have here, and what right does anyone have to be dismissive or skeptical on that basis? The discussion tone could be more respectful and intelligent here.

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compmd 5 years, 3 months ago

Sticks_Hick does raise good questions. So many in this community pretend the administration at KU can do no wrong and immediately jump into the "OMG KU" circle jerk whenever the topic of any alleged impropriety comes up.

If KU (and so many bloggers here) claim the athletics department really is a separate entity, then why does the chancellor spend so much time and effort on it? The chancellor should be focusing on the university, not the athletics department.

In the article, under "Academics," most of the discussion is regarding research. Briefly, it is stated that there are more than 30,000 students at KU. How many of those are undergraduates that have absolutely nothing to do with research? A whole lot. Why is there nothing stated about the results of the research? Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking research, when I was a student I participated in a great deal of research. But nothing is said of the quality of teaching professors, nothing is said of the quality of teaching assistants, nothing is said about the condition of classroom buildings. The article does mention the $150M spent on research facilities that the overwhelming majority of students will never use, let alone even know they exist. Of the students who can and do use them, what percentage of them are Kansan students? What percentage are from China or India?

Hemenway will be remembered for basketball, football, and spending money on things useless to the average KU student. This is a celebration of mediocrity.

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