The first finalist for Kansas University’s top academic leader told a public forum Monday that budget cuts at a state university shouldn’t be distributed across the board.
Universities that will emerge stronger and more suited for the future will rank their academic programs using criteria including their support for the university’s core mission, their scholarly impact and the demand for them among students, said Philip J. McConnaughay, KU’s first candidate for the provost and executive vice chancellor position.
McConnaughay has spent much of his career outside academia. For 18 years he practiced law with the firm of Morrison & Foerster, including almost 10 years as a resident partner in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
He has been the dean of the Dickinson School of Law at Pennsylvania State University since 2002. Before that he served from 1996-2002 as a professor of law at the University of Illinois, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science and a law degree.
More interdisciplinary efforts will be key in the future of higher education, he said, noting a positive meeting earlier in the day with leaders of KU academic centers, which often feature faculty members of various fields working together.
McConnaughay pointed to successes during his term as law dean at Penn State, including raising academic standards and greatly increasing diversity, from about 2 percent minority enrollment to about 25 percent.
“Diversity and high academic standing go hand in hand,” he said. “You just can’t have one without the other.”