Citing conflict-of-interest concerns, federal judge Deanell Reece Tacha said Thursday that she’s changed her mind and won’t seek the chairmanship of the Kansas University Endowment Association’s Board of Trustees.
Tacha had previously been the nominee to replace outgoing chairman Kurt Watson, a Wichita alumnus and president and CEO of The IMA Financial Group.
“I was advised that simply taking the chair position would at least give the appearance of inconsistency with some of my duties as a judge,” said Tacha, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the 10th Circuit.
Tacha, of Lawrence, said that the leadership position with the association was the problem, and she has been advised she can remain on the association’s board and executive committee.
Nominated as chairman in her place will be longtime KU supporter and 16-year member of the board’s executive committee Drue Jennings, a former KCP&L CEO who has served in numerous roles at KU before.
“I’m delighted that he’s willing to take it on,” Tacha said. “He’s as true-blue as I am.”
The association is benefiting from positive momentum, even in difficult times, Jennings said, adding that he hoped to continue that trend into an upcoming capital campaign.
“I think that the ability that the Endowment Association has demonstrated to raise resources for the university and deploy them is just outstanding,” Jennings said.
The recommendation to install Jennings as chairman will be forwarded to the full board at the association’s annual meeting next week.
Dale Seuferling, president of the endowment association, said Jennings possessed the traits the association was looking for to fill the position.
“Drue is a great, enthusiastic volunteer to work with, and a very motivating person,” Seuferling said.
The KU Endowment Board of Trustees has up to 75 members who meet once a year, supported by six standby committees that meet throughout the year. Board members receive no compensation for their service.