Contact KU and higher ed reporter Sara ShepherdHave a tip or story idea?
With a new university-wide curriculum going into place this fall, Kansas University will fill a new administrator job this summer to oversee undergraduate academics.
KU on Thursday announced four KU faculty members as finalists for the new position, to be called vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies.
Leaders decided on an internal search because the university already has a number of efforts underway to improve retention and education of undergraduates, said Sara Rosen, KU’s senior vice provost for academic affairs.
“It was important to get somebody who knows very well where we’re going and what we’re doing,” Rosen said.
The search will fill the last of four new vice provost positions created in 2011, when KU announced a reorganization in the Office of the Provost.
Leaders waited until now to fill the undergraduate studies job, Rosen said, to allow a number of new efforts in that area to get up and running — especially KU’s first-ever university-wide undergraduate curriculum, called the KU Core. The new curriculum will greatly reduce the number of general-education requirements for most undergraduates and it will go into effect for freshmen entering KU this fall, as well as a few other students who may opt in.
The new vice provost and dean will oversee KU’s efforts to retain and graduate more undergraduates, including the new curriculum. KU’s strategic plan, “Bold Aspirations,” lays out goals of 90 percent freshman retention and a 70 percent six-year graduation rate. The most recent figures in those areas are about 80 percent and 60 percent, respectively.
The new job will not have any budgetary effect on KU, Rosen said, as it will replace another position in the provost’s office, special assistant to the provost.
In that position, professor Christopher Haufler helped with the formation of the new curriculum. Haufler, also a professor and chairman of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is one of the candidates for the new vice provost job.
The other finalists are:
• Ann Cudd, an associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a distinguished professor of philosophy.
• Amy Devitt, a professor of English, Frances L. Steifel teaching professor and Chancellors Club teaching professor.
• Paul Atchley, a professor and chairman for undergraduate studies for the Department of Psychology.
Each of the candidates will appear at a public presentation and question-and-answer session on campus next week: Cudd from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Monday in the Kansas Union’s Malott Room; Haufler from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Malott Room; Devitt from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Malott Room; and Atchley from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday in the Union’s Centennial Room.
The new vice provost will report to Rosen, who said she hopes to have the job filled by the beginning of the fall semester in August.