Archive for Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chairman Gary Sherrer announces sudden and immediate resignation from Kansas Board of Regents

May 18, 2011, 1:59 p.m. Updated May 18, 2011, 6:00 p.m.


Gary Sherrer

Gary Sherrer

Gary Sherrer on Wednesday leaves the Kansas Board of Regents meeting after announcing his resignation from the panel. Seated is Vice Chair Ed McKechnie. Board members said they were shocked by Chairman Sherrer's decision.

Gary Sherrer on Wednesday leaves the Kansas Board of Regents meeting after announcing his resignation from the panel. Seated is Vice Chair Ed McKechnie. Board members said they were shocked by Chairman Sherrer's decision.

— Gary Sherrer, the chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, on Wednesday shocked the Kansas political and higher education world by announcing his resignation at the regents’ monthly meeting and then walking out.

The former lieutenant governor who has been a high-profile figure in state government for years said there existed an environment of mistrust and disrespect between himself and several members of the board, which oversees higher education. When asked, he refused to mention any names.

“This negative relationship is not in the best interests of Kansas higher education,” said Sherrer, of Overland Park.

As Sherrer left, he received a standing ovation from the regents and those attending the meeting. “Thank you very much for your service to this board, and thank you for your service to the state of Kansas,” said Vice Chair Ed McKechnie of Arcadia, who then presided over the rest of the meeting.

Later, in speaking with reporters, Sherrer said he was upset that his fellow board members refused to select him to lead a search committee to find a new president at Emporia State University. The current ESU president, Michael Lane, had announced his intention to step down June 30.

Sherrer graduated from Emporia State and has fond memories of the school, saying it changed his life. He said it would have meant a lot to him to chair the search committee.

Sherrer’s four-year term on the board of regents was scheduled to expire at the end of June. But, he said, he didn’t want to wait to leave.

“I am getting too old to be in places I don’t want to be, with people I don’t want to be with,” said Sherrer, who is 70.

Board members said they were disappointed and stunned.

Regent Tim Emert, of Independence, said, “He has to do what he has to do.” He said Sherrer wasn’t selected to lead the search because he was too close to the situation at Emporia State.

“It’s very divisive down there,” Emert said. The current president, Lane, announced his departure, saying that after he had been mentioned as a candidate for the presidency at another school, some had questioned his desire for the ESU job.

Regent Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman said she was surprised by Sherrer’s action. “We’re all feeling, ‘What just happened?’” she said.

She said she was sorry if Sherrer felt slighted but added that often individual regents members don’t get their way. The search committee hasn’t been designated yet.

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said she had no idea Sherrer was stepping down but knew something was up when Sherrer started talking about his accomplishments on the board.

Gray-Little said she knew of no problems among board members and if there were any, she said, they wouldn’t involve the universities.

Sherrer, a Republican, was appointed to the board by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, in 2007. He served as lieutenant governor and secretary of commerce under former Gov. Bill Graves, a Republican.

During his time on the board, Sherrer said he was able to initiate long-range planning and higher education advocacy projects. He also chaired a task force that led to adoption of legislation giving the regents the ability to raise admission standards.

Sherrer said he didn’t expect to be re-appointed to the regents by Gov. Sam Brownback, also a Republican.

Statement from Gary Sherrer

May 18, 2011

For some time there have been serious philosophical differences between myself and some members of the Board of Regents. I believe Regents have a responsibility to aggressively seek and implement changes required to provide a competitive, high quality 21st Century system of higher education. Some Board members have opposed this philosophy and prefer a more laissez-faire approach to governance. Unfortunately, some Board members have made these issues personal and allowed personal feelings to influence them in important Board decisions. There now exists an atmosphere of mutual disrespect and distrust between many Board members and myself. This negative relationship is not in the best interests of Kansas higher education. Therefore, I am resigning as a member of the Kansas Board of Regents.

I am proud of my service on the Board. Governor Sebelius asked me to “make a difference” and I believe I have. Some of the accomplishments include:

  • Initiating the questions and concerns that with the able leadership of Reggie Robinson and Andy Tompkins resulted in Foresight 2020, a strategic plan for all of higher education.
  • Chaired two task forces on admissions. One resulted in legislation giving the Board authority over admissions standards, and one that raised the standards.
  • Implementation of employee background checks at all state universities.
  • Enhanced CEO evaluations including “360” surveys and first semester visits by teams of Regents focused on CEO goals.
  • Regents for the first time conducted a visit to all community college and technical college campuses.
  • Economic impact study showing the value of the state’s investment in higher education at all levels.
  • Design of the Kansas Commitment, in advocacy for funding of higher education. Contained the basic elements of the recently-passed engineering initiative.
  • Appointment of an Articulation and Transfer Task Force that has as a focus enhancing the transfer of credits to universities from community colleges and technical colleges.

There are great things happening in Kansas higher education. I am grateful to those who lead it, I will miss working with them, and I wish them continued success.

Gary Sherrer


gccs14r 6 years, 11 months ago

He didn't get his way, so he's going to take his gavel and go home? Is he six years old? Grow up.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

Sherrer is one of the limpest milquetoasts ever to hold Kansas public office, including as a member of the Board of Regents. He's a classic RINO who was an ideal footman for Bill Graves, who was one and the same, to choose as his Lieutenant Governor.

This presents a good opportunity for Governor Brownback to appoint someone of intellect to the Board of Regents.

Kim Murphree 6 years, 11 months ago

Brownback knows intelligent people?? Really??? He doesn't seem to listen to them if he does.

gccs14r 6 years, 11 months ago

Beat me to it. Brownback hasn't shown any latent intellectualism in public life.

pinecreek 6 years, 11 months ago

Now that's a big hoot---'Brownback' and 'intellect' in the same need to stay away from that happy dust....or whatever you're imbibing.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

Since "imbibing" when used in its literal sense can only refer to drink, it's not possible to "imbibe" dust of any kind. Obviously, you fail to qualify as the person of intellect whom I would want Governor Brownback to appoint.

pinecreek 6 years, 11 months ago

My apologies for mis-characterizing the method by which you have achieved a hallucinatory state. 1 demerit for me...still doesn't change the facts around the current state of being in Topeka.

And as far as being appointed by this Governor for anything, 'I would neither seek, nor accept, any such appointment'.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

Pinecreek, if I'd been in in a hallucinatory state I wouldn't have been as taken aback by your misuse of the English language as I was.

In the meantime, it might be a salutary exercise for you to consider why you apparently believe that one cannot be a person of intellect simply because his or her views differ from your own.

Bob Forer 6 years, 11 months ago

Don't know anything about the guy. Either he's a crybaby, or we have serious problems on the Board of Regents.

Anyone have any insights or inside knowledge?

PugnaciousJayhawk 6 years, 11 months ago

I think there are deeper problems. I'd expect Brownback to appoint three individuals capable of shaking up the whole system come June.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 11 months ago

Like he's done at other state agencies, right? Really shook things up by paying higher salaries and creating new "executive" positions. And all for more of his friends from Colorado, Florida, and other states.

We don't need no stinking Kansans on the Kansas Board of Regents, but I'm pretty sure he can't do anything about the pay rate.

Hawkman 6 years, 11 months ago

Brown nose wins again. If you don't know Gary, look in the mirror and judge yourself you self-righteous losers.

wastewatcher 6 years, 11 months ago

CRYBABY or SERIOUS PROBLEMS No doubt about it SERIOUS PROBLEMS. Look at the public scandals at KU and K STATE. Rest assured that there are many more problems and issues below the surface that are not public and the schools keep quiet about. We will miss Gary Sherrer . Lets hope his successor has the courage and vision Gary did.

Richard Payton 6 years, 11 months ago

Makes me think of Paul Simon's song their must be 50 ways to leave your lover.

topeka411 6 years, 11 months ago

Talk about Mr "all about me". Never has this state seen such an egomaniac as Gary Sherrer. Emporia State should be breathing a sigh of relief that the Board of Regents was willing to stand up to the bully one last time. Good bye, Gary...and don't forget to take your self-promoting press releases with you, ok?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 11 months ago

Well, I don't know the man, but in my experience, this IS how bullies respond to pressure.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 11 months ago

Here's what Sherrer is actually saying -- "There is no way in God's Green Flint Hills that Il Marrone is going to keep me on the Regents and everyone knows it so they're treating me like I'm not here."

He is frustrated because he has always thought himself a Republican, but he is not Il Marrone's kind of Republican. Kind of make you wonder why Sherrer and his JoCo friends were all lined up behind Il Marrone in 2009 and 2010.

Did they really think playing nice during the election would lead to appointments? More than anyone, it is Republicans like Sherrer who have foisted Il Marrone and his partisans on this state.

Mary Alexander 6 years, 11 months ago

I do not know this person but by his statement he sounds self serving. As for Brownie he doesn't like the Regents so this will give him a reason to remove it. We will just have to wait and see.

Robin Jones 6 years, 11 months ago

It's interesting to see all the potshots at Gov. Brownback, and every single one from an anonymous contributor with no ideas of their own to improve the situation they consider so dire.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 11 months ago

Not only are the contributors anonymous, none of them has been elected Governor either.

bad_dog 6 years, 11 months ago

Well, aren't you special non-anon Robin!

At least the potshotters are in good company given Sammy has no ideas of his own either. What exactly has he done to improve "the situation" since taking office?


The economy?

bopro 6 years, 11 months ago

good luck in your next job hope they treat you better

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 11 months ago

I don't have a read on this one.

The outcome will be the appointment of a new Regent by Brownback, so it cannot be good.

Dolph Simons?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 11 months ago

I'll quote Sting's "An Englishman in New York": A gentleman will walk but never run.

This doesn't demonstrate character or integrity. Was he EVER there for the sake of the state's universities, or was he there to get himself stroked? If I'm there for altruistic reasons, I'll remain in my post for the sake of those I serve. If he leaves because "I'm not wanted", then it seems that his reason for being there was to find validation, not to help others.

Maybe the next guy (or gal) will have thicker skin and thereby be more effective in their duties.

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