Applications are in for KU chancellor; search committee begins whittling list

University of Kansas students, faculty and staff offer thoughts on traits they'd like to see in KU's next chancellor Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at the Kansas Union. David Dillon, chairman of the KU chancellor search committee, and Bill Funk, president of the search firm R. William Funk and Associates, led the open forum.

Applications from the people vying to become the next chancellor of the University of Kansas are now in the hands of the KU chancellor search committee.

The soft deadline to apply for the job was Friday, and the committee will begin reviewing applications and narrowing the list of contenders this week, committee chair David Dillon said.

Dillon declined to share the number of applications received.

However, he said he was “very pleased” by the quality and diversity of candidates.

“The pool included many people from the academic world, some who are in strong administrative positions — including some sitting presidents of universities, and provosts — but many others,” Dillon said. “We had several candidates whose backgrounds were not primarily in the academic world.”

In addition to people from different professional backgrounds, the pool includes diversity in ethnicity and gender, Dillon said.

Next the search committee will review applications and interview select candidates, Dillon said. From those, Dillon said the committee would narrow its list to finalists to present to the Kansas Board of Regents for consideration, hopefully by about mid-May.

Between now and then, one challenge will be keeping KU on the radar of promising candidates.

Dillon said Bill Funk, president of the hired search consulting firm R. William Funk & Associates, would communicate with candidates to help “keep people interested and on board.” Funk also helped recruit candidates to apply.

The possibility of candidates being stolen away by other universities looking for new presidents is a concern, Dillon said. However, he said, several large universities in that category have recently filled their CEO roles, so there aren’t many compatible schools competing with KU right now.

“I am strongly optimistic that we will give the Regents, as they requested from us, three to five candidates,” Dillon said.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little announced in September that she would step down this summer.

The Regents’ stated goal is to have her replacement hired and announced in time to start July 1.

As they did when Gray-Little was hired in 2009, the Regents opted to conduct a closed search. No candidates or finalists will be publicly announced. Rather, only the person who is ultimately hired will be shared publicly, upon that person’s hiring.

After receiving a short list of finalists recommended by the search committee, the process calls for the Regents to interview those finalists and make a final decision.