Heard on the Hill: Engineering dean candidate coming this week; Regents, faculty appear on same page with post-tenure review; KUMC gastroenterologist talks heartburn with WSJ

Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• KU announced Tuesday that the first of a series of candidates to be the next dean for the School of Engineering will be visiting campus this week.

His name is Michael Branicky, and he’s a professor and chairman of the electrical engineering and computer science department at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He also has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from that institution, as well as a doctorate from MIT.

Branicky has done robotics work for the National Science Foundation and co-founded a software startup, among a host of other experiences.

You can take a more detailed look at his vita, if you like, on this site that the provost’s office has kindly set up to trace the search process for the new dean, who’ll oversee a school that’s rapidly growing and has many eyes on it.

(You can also take a look at the entire itinerary for his two-day KU visit, if you like. His flight arrives at 8:17 p.m. today. This is some serious transparency.)

Branicky will take part in a public forum Thursday in the auditorium of the KU Visitor’s Center.

The provost office website suggests that a total of four candidates will be visiting campus; the others will take part in public forums on Nov. 19, Nov. 29 and Dec. 5. The KU release on the subject says the names of the other candidates will be released about two days before their arrival.

Also available on that provost office website: an online candidate evaluation form, through which faculty, staff, students, administrators or “other” can send in their thoughts on the candidates after they visit.

• I told you last week that KU’s Faculty Senate was set to approve a set of principles meant to guide the apparently imminent new post-tenure review policy.

The senate did in fact approve a resolution doing that, and some Faculty Senate folks even passed the list along to some Board of Regents members in a meeting last week.

Law professor Andrew Torrance, the Faculty Senate president, said during a committee meeting yesterday that the faculty had been a bit uncertain about how the Regents would react. But he said the Regents appeared to be big fans of the list, which urges post-tenure review to respect the institution of tenure, be designed to benefit everybody involved and support faculty with different strengths, among other things.

So the faculty have apparently succeeded in their goal of getting out ahead of the new policy and demonstrating that they’re willing to cooperate.

“I think we’ve brought ourselves to a really nice place,” Torrance told others at the meeting.

• A KU Medical Center professor talked with the Wall Street Journal for a story this week about a variety of heartburn that has doctors stumped.

The story concerns how many of the ever-increasing number of Americans experiencing frequent heartburn don’t get any relief from the strongest drugs designed to treat acid reflux, known as proton-pump inhibitors.

Prateek Sharma, a KUMC gastroenterologist, explains that research is beginning to show that many frequent heartburn sufferers aren’t having problems as a result of stomach acid. Instead, the story says, the cause may be bile, which is produced in the liver, or just psychological stress.

Gastroenterologists, not about to let an unfortunate acronym get in the way of being as precise as possible, have called this mystery heartburn condition “non-erosive reflux diseases,” or NERD.

• One of the chief causes of heartburn among Heard on the Hill writers is a lack of news tips. Please do your part to keep this from happening by sending your tips regularly to merickson@ljworld.com.