KU chancellor says university will select permanent provost before liberal arts dean

photo by: Peter Hancock

University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod is pictured, Nov. 15, 2017.

The University of Kansas will not select a permanent dean for its largest college until after it finds a permanent university provost, Chancellor Douglas Girod told the Journal-World on Wednesday.

When asked after the Kansas Board of Regents meeting in Topeka about the university’s plan to find a permanent dean for its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Girod said KU does not currently have anything in the works and will not have a plan until a permanent provost is appointed.

Currently, Carl Lejuez is serving as the university’s interim provost and Clarence Lang is serving as interim CLAS dean, which is Lejuez’s former position.

“(Lang will) continue to serve in that capacity until we get a provost who can then hire a dean,” Girod said.

Girod previously said the university will use an executive search firm this spring to find a permanent provost. Until that process is completed and the next provost can hire a new dean, Lang will continue to serve as interim dean as long as he wants to, Girod said.

“He’s continuing to serve well in that capacity,” he said. “Until we have to fill it, we won’t.”

But Lang’s future with the university is not clear.

Lang had the opportunity to become the permanent dean in January, but he chose to decline an unusual direct appointment to the position.

Lejuez first proposed a month earlier giving Lang a three-year appointment to the dean position, bypassing the university’s formal search process. The decision was controversial, with some faculty groups opposed to bypassing the traditional hiring processes and others saying the unusual procedure was necessary because KU was in a “crisis” situation.

Lejuez said giving Lang the appointment was necessary because the university was going through a period of $20 million budget cuts and needed Lang — who said he was being courted by another institution — to not leave KU for another job. Neither Lejuez nor Lang has ever disclosed what institution was trying to lure Lang away.

But on Jan. 24, Lejuez announced in an email to the KU community that Lang had declined the appointment.

At the time, Lejuez said he did not know how the university would move forward to fill the position but he said in the email that he would “be in touch shortly” about the next steps. But almost a month later, no plans had been shared publicly.

When asked about Girod’s comments on Wednesday, Lejuez confirmed that a dean will not be selected until a permanent provost is appointed. Although he is serving as the interim provost, Lejuez is technically still the CLAS dean.

“Once the final provost is chosen, if that isn’t me, I would go back to the college,” he said.

By offering Lang the permanent position, Lejuez said he was willing to give up his right to the position. But now that Lang has declined the appointment he said “it doesn’t make sense do that.”

Additionally, Lang has not responded to multiple Journal-World phone calls or emails requesting comment. When a Journal-World reporter visited his office on Feb. 6, Linda Bonebrake, Lang’s executive assistant, said he was on campus but was too busy to meet with the reporter.

The Journal-World reached out to Lang again on Wednesday.

Contact Dylan Lysen

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