Three finalists to become the next leader of Kansas University Medical Center will visit its campus during November.
The visits by candidates for the KUMC executive vice chancellor position will each include a public town-hall meeting designed to allow faculty and staff to hear from them and ask questions.
“The decisions of the person selected will be important for lots of folks, and we wanted them to have an opportunity to meet and hear from each one of the three candidates,” said Tim Caboni, KU’s vice chancellor for public affairs.
The town-hall meetings will take place Nov. 8, Nov. 15 and Nov. 20, according to a message from Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little from earlier this month.
KU will release the candidates’ names and other information one-by-one, on the day preceding each public meeting.
Ed Ellerbeck, KUMC preventive medicine and public health chairman and leader of the executive vice chancellor search committee, said the university planned to keep the candidates’ identities private for as long as it could to guard against competing offers.
“As soon as it’s known at their home institutions that these candidates are looking elsewhere, they’re going to be besieged by counteroffers,” Ellerbeck said.
Ellerbeck and Caboni each declined to say whether the slate of finalists included any internal candidates from the Medical Center, though Ellerbeck said there will be “some external candidates.”
Both said the candidates were well-qualified and had a variety of backgrounds.
“Each of these candidates coming in is very different with their experiences,” Ellerbeck said.
This past summer, Ellerbeck said that all candidates in the running at that time were medical doctors, though the job description does not specifically call for that qualification.
Since May, Ellerbeck said, the search committee has reviewed hundreds of possible candidates, narrowing that group to about 20 who were interviewed over the phone, nine who visited campus and then three finalists.
Their visions, as well as their public speaking abilities, will be on display at the town-hall meetings, Ellerbeck said.
“We’ll get a sense for how they’ll respond to those questions when they’re on the hot seat,” he said.
The hiring decision for the job will be in Gray-Little’s hands following the candidates’ visits, Caboni said, although she will consider input from people who interact with the finalists and others from around the university.
He said the timing of the hire was not yet completely clear.
“I wouldn’t want to put a timetable on it,” Caboni said, “but I think that once candidates have visited and she’s made her decision, I can’t imagine it would take a terribly long time to bring this to a conclusion.”
In making the hire, Caboni said Gray-Little will emphasize candidates’ plans for the Medical Center’s future, how their backgrounds fit with their plans and how well they can make sure KU continues to produce doctors and remains among the ranks of the prestigious Association of American Universities.
“It’s an important time, obviously, for the University of Kansas, but also given all of the changes in health care, it’s going to be an important time to think about what the leadership of the Medical Center means in that context,” he said.
One of the first tasks for the new executive vice chancellor likely will be to begin a search for a dean of the School of Medicine, Caboni said.
Barbara Atkinson, who retired in June, served as both dean and executive vice chancellor. Gray-Little had indicated a desire to split the jobs, and a search for a dean had already begun when Atkinson announced in April she would be leaving KU earlier than expected.
That search, Ellerbeck said, morphed into an effort to find a new executive vice chancellor.
Each of the town-hall meetings involving the finalists will take place in the G013 School of Nursing Auditorium and will be transmitted electronically to the Medical School campuses in Wichita and Salina. The one-hour meetings will be at noon Nov. 8; 5 p.m. Nov. 15 and 4:30 p.m. Nov. 20.