Archive for Monday, March 22, 2010

KU chooses former Texas A&M leader for provost position

Professor, former administrator Jeffrey Vitter to start July 1

March 22, 2010, 11:21 a.m. Updated March 22, 2010, 2:48 p.m.


Kansas University’s new provost is a former Texas A&M; administrator who has served in a number of leadership roles at public and private institutions.

Jeffrey S. Vitter is a former provost at Texas A&M; University. He currently serves as professor of computer science and engineering at Texas A&M.; He stepped aside as provost to make way for a new leadership team after the university’s president resigned.

In a conference call with members of the media Monday afternoon, Vitter said that perhaps his biggest challenge in his new role will be getting the word out about how good KU is as an institution. He said he has experience in executing strategic planning, and would look to build on momentum generated by three task forces recently convened by KU’s chancellor.

“One of the advantages of doing a strategic plan is it’s a way of focusing visibility on what you’re accomplishing,” Vitter said.

He said he planned to take an active role in KU’s upcoming fundraising campaign, saying he’s enjoyed meeting with donors in the past and sharing their pride for their universities.

“It puts things in perspective and makes you realize how special a university like KU is,” Vitter said.

He has also served as the dean of the College of Science at Purdue University, and as a faculty member at Brown University and Duke University, where he was chairman of the computer science department.

Vitter earned a bachelor’s degree with highest honors in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame in 1977, a doctorate in computer science from Stanford University in 1980 and a master’s of business administration from Duke in 2002. He was born and raised in New Orleans.

“I am very pleased that Jeff Vitter will join KU in this important leadership role,” Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “He brings extensive academic and administrative experience, from faculty member at Brown to department chair at Duke, to dean at Purdue and provost at Texas A&M.; He also has an outstanding record as a scholar.”

His wife, Sharon Weaver Vitter, is a native of Miami County, who earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from KU. They have three children, daughters Jillian, a second-year medical student at Georgetown University; and Audrey, a freshman at Notre Dame in chemical engineering; and son Scott, a senior at Notre Dame in mechanical engineering.

Vitter will earn $350,000 in his new role, and will have access to a car for business purposes. His predecessor, Richard Lariviere, was hired in 2006 at a salary of $278,000, a figure that had risen to $302,089 as of July 1, 2008.

The university has been searching for a new top academic officer for KU’s Lawrence campus after Lariviere left last year to become president at the University of Oregon. Vitter will take over on July 1, and Danny J. Anderson will continue as interim provost until that time.

Mabel Rice, chairwoman of the provost search committee, said Vitter distinguished himself among a strong field of candidates with the scope of his leadership experience.

“He also leaves a trail of people who admire him and his leadership ability,” Rice said.

A 16-member search committee delivered three finalists to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little: Vitter, Philip J. McConnaughay, law dean at Penn State University, and Steve Warren, vice provost for research and graduate studies at KU.


oldnavycdr 8 years, 3 months ago

Won't be needing a Ph.D. to total up all that Final Four money.

beawolf 8 years, 3 months ago


Are you that ignorant to assume everyone associated with A&M is a Bush puppet? It is not within my comfort zone to have your child attend KU.

MyName 8 years, 3 months ago


Ugh, that kind of politics is not part of higher education. The new Provost is basically senior vice president of operations or the equivalent. His job is to make sure classes happen at KU. The professors (and GTAs) teaching the classes and/or leading the discussions have way more to say about what goes on in the classroom than anyone involved at the provost level.

CreatureComforts 8 years, 3 months ago

MyName: Unfortunately, saying politics is not part of Higher Ed, especially a major state school like KU, is just ignoring the truth.

Machiavelli_mania: If your kid thinks like you (closed minded), KU is a better place without. Thank you for forcing your poor child to go somewhere else.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 3 months ago

How does a guy who's only 4 levels above my wife make 10 times her salary? I assure you, it wasn't that way for me in the corporate world!

lkr2 8 years, 3 months ago

Sorry to see Warren not make it. I was rooting for him!

MyName 8 years, 3 months ago


Oh yeah, because I only spent hundreds of hours in the classroom getting my degree from KU, and deal with faculty members from there every day. I couldn't possibly know what I'm talking about with regards to how little your particular brand (or the your professor's brand, or the provost's brand) of politics matters to the business of learning in the classroom or doing research at the University.

yankeevet 8 years, 3 months ago

Wow; $350,000 bucks? I have a degree also; but dont come anywhere near that; .................

beawolf 8 years, 3 months ago


He has three degrees and a career of working in university top positions. I also don't think he wastes his time spewing mindless drivel on local newspaper blogs.

4chewnut 8 years, 3 months ago

Not hired by UNC or by MSU. And I am assuming the search committee asked his views on stem cell research? Relevant given KU goals...and his VERY conservative brother's agenda.

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