Various groups or individuals at Kansas University currently are engaged in search and recruitment efforts to find new deans for the schools of business and law and a new vice chancellor, who will be in charge of public information and lobbying efforts for the university.
All three positions are important, and the level of skill, vision and expectation displayed by those on the search committees, as well as those who make the final selections, says a great deal about how good a school KU can become.
Are the goals of the search committees to seek and hire “best in field” candidates, or are they settling for mediocre, run-of-the-mill, easy-to-hire — and perhaps less expensive — individuals?
What instructions have been given to the head hunters if, indeed, such firms are being used to come up with the names of possible candidates? Are there salary limitations? It would be interesting to know why some superior candidates may have said they were not interested in a KU position.
This information should be shared with members of the Kansas Board of Regents since they are supposed to be overseeing the university and should know whether there are matters that hinder or handicap the university’s ability to attract the best possible deans.
Openings in deans’ offices do not occur very often and, when they do, it offers an opportunity to upgrade the position. If KU officials and alumni and friends of the university are genuine in their often-expressed desire to make KU one of the country’s finest state-aided universities, the excellence of deans and other administrators plays a critical role.
Superior deans help attract top-flight faculty and researchers and they, in turn, play a major role in attracting outstanding undergraduate and graduate students.
If a search doesn’t identify a pool of three truly outstanding candidates for each of the dean positions and the vice chancellor slot, it’s better to start over with a more effective search rather than settle for second best, or worse, third best.
The type of individuals selected will send a clear signal to the public, as well as to current faculty members. Just how serious is the university about building the schools’ academic and research excellence?