Part-time driver hired for KU’s chancellor

In the hopes of freeing up more work time for Kansas University’s leader, KU has hired a part-time driver for Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to take her to and from some out-of-town appointments.

The university hired Robin Moore, a retired Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy with 32 years of law enforcement experience, to serve as her driver, said Mary Burg, executive assistant to the chancellor.

He will make $20 per hour start Sept. 10, and will serve on an as-needed basis. Burg said the university said the times the chancellor would need a driver could vary widely, but the university was preliminarily estimating that he would work 15 hours per week.

“We’re trying this out. We’ve never done this before, so we don’t know how many hours this will end up being,” she said.

The driver will be primarily for trips to and from Kansas City, where the chancellor spends at least one day each week at KU Medical Center.

This week, however, Burg said Gray-Little has spent more time in Kansas City interviewing executive vice chancellor candidates for KUMC.

The chancellor will still drive herself to and from all appointments in Lawrence.

Not all trips to Kansas City will require a driver, and he will be used primarily when the chancellor has more than one appointment in a day, said Jack Martin, a KU spokesman.

Regent Ed McKechnie, of Arcadia, said regents have been working with university CEOs on time-management strategies that can help them be more productive.

With KUMC and KU’s Edwards Campus in the Kansas City area, he said, the regents suggested Gray-Little hire a driver so she could work while in the car.

“We’re not paying (the chancellor) to circle the block 20 times looking for a parking spot,” he said.

He said regents do encourage Kansas State President Kirk Schulz and Fort Hays State President Ed Hammond to make use of university aircraft to cut down on travel time, though neither has a driver.

KU’s chancellor has been working long hours since taking the job in 2009, he said.

“I think the chancellor inherited more opportunities for improvement than Kirk Schulz inherited,” McKechnie said.

Officials at KU’s regional peers in the Association of American Universities — the University of Iowa, the University of Missouri and Iowa State University — all said that they do not employ drivers for their university leaders.

But Martin said Gray-Little had heard from peers at the University of Texas-Austin and the University of Virginia who did use drivers.

A UT spokesman said an employee of the president’s office had job duties that included, but were not limited to, driving the president to some meetings and events.

Burg said the university hired Moore without posting the job, something that the university’s human resources department allows, she said.

She said the university was looking for a person with a certain maturity level, someone that the university felt comfortable overhearing confidential conversations and someone with law enforcement experience.

For some trips to the airport in Kansas City, KU had been hiring a car service for the chancellor at $100 per hour.

“At least for the airport travel, that’s going to save some money,” Burg said.