Archive for Thursday, November 1, 2012

Editorial: Slow search

November 1, 2012


What is going on at the Kansas University Medical Center? Why is it taking so long to hire a new executive vice chancellor for the center?

After several years of drifting, poor faculty morale and a lack of decisiveness or courage by KU leaders or the Kansas Board of Regents, Barbara Atkinson stepped aside (or was directed to step aside) last April as executive vice chancellor of the center as well as executive dean of the KU School of Medicine.

At first, she set a date later in the year to move out of her office, but for one reason or another, she departed much sooner.

At that time, school officials announced a search committee had been formed to put together a group of vice chancellor candidates. The search process was said to be exhaustive and thorough, and this group eventually was unanimous in forwarding the name of a single individual to the chancellor as its choice for this important position.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little rejected the name, saying she did not want to have just one candidate. She wanted two or three candidates from which to choose.

A new search effort was launched, and the committee recently announced town hall meetings later this month for faculty and staff to meet three finalists for the executive vice chancellor’s job.

Why has it taken so long and how has the school been harmed by allowing the drift, questioning and suspicion to continue?

At the time of the chancellor’s rejection, questions were raised about how her decision would be received by the single candidate, an active member of the School of Medicine. Would he want to be a candidate in the renewed search? Were there others within the school who should be considered, if not for the executive vice chancellor position, perhaps for executive dean?

If the search group has come up with out-of-state candidates, how long will it take one of them to step aside from a current position and make the move to Kansas City?

It was hoped the new executive vice chancellor would have been in place and on site long before now. Officials had expressed the desire to have an executive vice chancellor on the job before starting the search for an executive dean so that the vice chancellor could have a role in the hiring and the dean would know who his or her boss would be.

(It should be noted that this procedure is a vast improvement over other recent senior staff searches at KU. For example, KU officials elected to hire a new dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences before hiring the provost who would be that person’s boss.)

Is the previous choice of the search committee among the three finalists? Have search committee members found someone they think would do a better job? Or did they go back and reconsider some of the candidates they rejected before? Was the delay merely cosmetic to make it look like they conducted a totally new search effort?

It’s all a puzzle and doesn’t reflect well on the search effort.

What will be the reaction of the medical school staff if the first nominee turns out not to be the chancellor’s choice? He was, and continues to be, highly popular. In recent years, there was the belief among the school’s faculty that he should have been named dean of the school but Atkinson refused to vacate that position. This being the case, there was great concern among the faculty that this popular and highly respected individual would leave for one of the other attractive jobs being offered.

It is important for the two top Med Center positions to be filled as soon as possible, enabling officials to be in their offices and on the job.


Jack Martin 5 years, 5 months ago

In a September Saturday Column, Mr. Simons claimed that a single candidate name was forwarded to Chancellor Gray-Little for the position of Dean of Medicine. The Lawrence Journal-World was required to issue a correction due in no small part to the fact that no search for a dean was underway, and that the search was actually for the Executive Vice Chancellor position.

The writer of this piece has simply taken that original false claim and changed the position for which this candidate was supposedly put forward. No single candidate, internal or external, was forwarded by the committee to the Chancellor. Why this writer continues to insist that--citing no sources, I might add--is beyond me.

Also, Provost Jeff Vitter was selected prior to Danny Anderson being named Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It took a simple Google search to confirm that, yet the writer of this editorial is so unconcerned with facts that he claims the opposite is true.

d_prowess 5 years, 5 months ago

I love it when Jack Martin comments and lays the smack down!

Ann Gardner 5 years, 5 months ago

Jack: You're right that Vitter's hiring was announced on March 22, 2010, nine days before Anderson's hiring was announced on March 31, 2010. The point in the editorial, however, was that Vitter, who didn't start work at KU until July 2010, was not hired in time to participate in the hiring of the LAS dean.

Jack Martin 5 years, 5 months ago

Provost Vitter was consulted on the hiring of a dean for the College, even though he didn’t formally begin at KU until July 1.

Jack Martin 5 years, 5 months ago

Additionally, here is a link to the news release announcing Dean Anderson's hiring, which features a quote from then-incoming Provost Vitter.

LJD230 5 years, 5 months ago

Can it be hoped the individual chosen to lead the medical center will come from a world class university with a great tradition of research, education and patient care? Can it be hoped that the new executive vice chancellor will have the wisdom to shake up the medical school and reorient it toward the education of physician-scientists and recruiting distinguished teachers and researchers that will advance both the research portfolio of the university but medical education in general?

If KUMC wants to be among the best in the country, it must transfrom itself from a regional center to a national one similar to Washington University/Barnes, Hopkins, Harvard/Mass General and Texas/MD Anderson.

It is well and good that KU is attempting to provide country doctors in Salina and Wichita but that effort does not bring a mantel of greatness to the university. And by the way, why not educate physician assistants in lieu of the effort to produce country doctors and concentrate on educating the physican-scientists of the future. A research university deserves a medical school with a laser focus on attracting research dollars and attracting the future stars of clinical and basic science research,.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 5 months ago

Let's see. Instead of educating doctors to practice medicine, let's have KUMC focus on making KU "look" better. "Mantle of greatness"??? What utter nonsense.

We are facing a severe shortage of doctors in this country...NOT a shortage of medical researchers.

And, yes, physician assistants can be very valuable.

But believing that it would be "wise" to "shake up the medical school and reorient it toward the education of physician-scientists and recruiting distinguished teachers and researchers that will advance both the research portfolio of the university but medical education in general"?

What part of "WE ARE FACING A SEVERE SHORTAGE OF DOCTORS" do you not understand, Dolph?

Getaroom 5 years, 5 months ago

The search will take as long as long as it needs to take to find the right person. Speculating on what's happening in the interim is just that - speculation. Have an ax to grind LJW?

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