Kansas University Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Lariviere will leave KU to become the president of the University of Oregon, pending approval by a state board.
Lariviere’s departure would create a situation at KU where its top two leadership positions would be in transition, as Chancellor Robert Hemenway plans to retire effective June 30.
Lariviere was recommended by a search committee and George Pernsteiner, chancellor of the Oregon University System, which oversees seven universities.
“Dr. Lariviere has a unique and diverse set of skills, leadership qualities and broad experiences that make him the right person to take the UO to its next level of excellence,” John von Schlegell, a member of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, which is poised to appoint Lariviere as president, said in a statement.
Lariviere is scheduled to visit the campus March 10. If approved March 13, Lariviere would begin his new job July 1.
“The University of Oregon is one of the country’s best research and teaching institutions,” Lariviere said, adding that the opportunity to lead such a university is rare. “I was contacted about it and had to pursue it.”
He said he would look back fondly on his tenure at KU should he be formally approved.
“I’m proud of my association with a superb faculty and a community of people who really generously give of themselves,” Lariviere said.
Lariviere said he hoped to be able to help the University of Oregon identify ways to grow its academic progress and navigate a difficult fiscal situation.
“Richard has accomplished a great deal during his tenure as provost,” Hemenway said in a statement. “I have spoken with Richard, and we will ensure that responsibilities of the provost office will proceed in regular fashion as we transition to new leadership.”
Donna Shank, chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents, said the university would likely name an interim provost should Lariviere leave, and said that while both leadership posts could be in transition, both Hemenway and Lariviere would at least be around until the end of June.
She said KU was still in good shape, and a vacancy at the provost level could make the chancellor position more attractive, as a new hire would get to name a provost, too.
“It’s not a great situation to be in,” and not one that any institution would necessarily volunteer for, Shank said. “But it’s one I think we’re handling pretty well.”
Shank said the new position was a good one for Lariviere, and she always expected that with his talent level, Lariviere would be tapped to lead an institution someday.
Lariviere was chosen to replace Provost David Shulenburger in February 2006 when Shulenburger announced that he would take a post at the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges in Washington, D.C.
Before coming to KU, Lariviere was dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin from 1999-2006.
During his tenure, Lariviere has been involved in a number of major decisions and programs at KU.
He led reorganizations of the graduate school and the School of Fine Arts, an effort to expand KU’s School of Pharmacy and student recruitment tools.
Lariviere has also shepherded KU through a number of budget cuts this year, and is working to prepare for expected additional cuts still to come.
His wife, Jan, also is involved on campus, serving as the program coordinator for UKanTeach, a collaborative program of KU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Education that leads to a degree in science or math and a teaching license in four years.
Steve Warren, vice provost for research at KU, said Lariviere’s departure would be a big loss for the KU community.
“I think he did a lot in a short time here,” Warren said, adding that his talents would suit him well for a job like Oregon’s president. “I’m not surprised he would be offered this position.”
Warren cited a tuition compact with students and leadership in initiatives with the Kansas Bioscience Authority as two of Lariviere’s accomplishments.
“He instilled a lot of confidence in the faculty and the students,” Warren said.
KU spokeswoman Lynn Bretz noted that while it would be premature to comment on any search process for a new provost before Lariviere is officially approved, the last search for a KU provost involved a universitywide search committee that resulted in four finalists being submitted to the chancellor.
The finalists visited campus and met with faculty and students before the chancellor made a decision.
Mary Lee Hummert, vice provost for faculty development, said she was one of Lariviere’s first hires at the university. She said even though he has not yet officially turned in his resignation papers, it would be hard for her to imagine that Oregon’s state board would not approve him for the new post.
“He certainly is one of the leaders in higher education today,” she said. “He is extremely smart, and he is able to cut to the heart of a problem.”
She said she and others had mixed emotions Monday when the announcement was made — while they wished him well, “we certainly recognize how important he is here at the University of Kansas as well.”