Search committee chair: Names coming in, headhunting has begun for KU chancellor job

Additional open forum for students planned Monday on campus

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.

The University of Kansas chancellor search committee is still seeking campus input to write a formal job description, but candidate names already are coming in.

“We are already receiving applications and nominations,” committee chairman David Dillon said. “We’re following up on every single one.”

Dillon said the committee is working to finalize the candidate profile statement that will be used to evaluate applicants and will be included in the job description when the position is formally opened.

He expects the Kansas Board of Regents to approve the profile at its Feb. 15 meeting, he said. The “soft” application deadline will be March 30.

“We intend to leave open the deadline permanently until we fill the position; anybody could apply,” Dillon said. “By March 30 we intend to have most of the names that we think are likely to lead us to the right candidate.”

Bernadette Gray-Little, KU’s chancellor since 2009, has announced that she’ll step down at the end of this school year. The Board’s goal is to hire and announce her successor in time to start work July 1.

The search process is closed, meaning no applicants’ or finalists’ names will be publicly announced, and search committee meetings will be conducted in private.

To solicit input about the qualities that KU community members want in their next chancellor, Dillon led open forums Jan. 10 at the Lawrence campus and Jan. 13 at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

One more open forum — specifically targeting Lawrence students, who weren’t back from winter break for the first one — is planned from 5 to 6 p.m. Monday in Alderson Auditorium at the Kansas Union.

“Those pieces of information tell us a lot about what we may want as a chancellor. The committee then adds its own input,” Dillon said. “Then we combine all of that into the statement.”

The Board of Regents has hired the academic search firm R. William Funk and Associates to recruit candidates for chancellor. Firm president Bill Funk was with Dillon at the first two constituency meetings.

Dillon said he’d received “more than a handful” of names and was forwarding all to the firm. He said some came from KU faculty members who know potential candidates from schools where they previously worked. A notice about the pending job opening also has been advertised in the Journal of Higher Education.

“In addition to that the search firm has already sent out a number of requests to people they know in the industry seeking their thoughts on who we should look into,” Dillon said.

Dillon suggested that early applicants or people suggesting names contact Funk and Associates. Contact information for the firm can be found on its website,

Among other suggestions, attendees at the first Lawrence forum said they wanted a chancellor who was “courageous,” could generate excitement about higher education, listened to students and valued diversity — and a hiring process that was not improperly influenced by politics and other outside agendas.