KU’s interim dean of liberal arts hired at Penn State; vice provost for diversity and equity also leaving KU

photo by: University of Kansas

From left, Clarence Lang and Jennifer Hamer

Story updated at 7:44 p.m. Thursday

Two University of Kansas administrators, including one who recently turned down a controversial permanent appointment, will leave the university this summer.

Clarence Lang, the interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at KU, has been named dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Pennsylvania State University, according to a news release from Penn State Thursday morning.

Jennifer Hamer, KU’s vice provost for diversity and equity, who is married to Lang, is also leaving KU and told the Journal-World that she would be working as a professor and administrator at Penn State.

Lang was recently offered a three-year appointment as KU’s CLAS dean but turned it down in the wake of controversy over the offer. KU’s interim provost, Carl Lejuez, sought to bypass the traditional search process for university deans and hire Lang directly instead — a move that some in the university community were “shocked” by and that others said was a necessary move in a “crisis” situation.

Lejuez said the unusual offer was based on Lang’s importance to KU during a time of budget cuts. Lejuez said another university was courting Lang and that it was important for KU to retain him. Neither Lejuez or Lang ever revealed the other university.

In a letter to the KU community Thursday, Lejuez indicated that Lang would begin his new job in State College, Pa., on July 1.

Lejuez said Hamer would also leave KU at the end of the academic year but did not specify the next steps in her career. When reached by the Journal-World, Hamer said she would also be working at Penn State in an administrative role and would also serve as a professor of African-American studies.

Lang was appointed as interim CLAS dean in April 2018. Prior to that, he served as the chair for the college’s African and African-American studies department, beginning in 2015. He joined the university as a visiting professor in 2011 and received an appointment as an associate professor for the African and African-American studies department in 2012.

KU appointed Hamer as the vice provost for diversity and equity in 2017. She joined KU in 2012 as a faculty member in the college’s American studies department and African and African-American studies department. She was named the chair for the American studies department in 2014 and then the college’s associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in 2016.

The process for selecting an interim CLAS dean for KU and a new vice provost for equity will be announced after spring break, Lejuez said. Spring break runs from March 11 to March 17.

Lejuez proposed offering Lang the permanent dean appointment in December 2018, and on Jan. 24, Lejuez announced that Lang had withdrawn his name after considering the offer.

After he declined, Lang did not respond to repeated Journal-World requests for comments on his future at the university.

KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said last week that a permanent CLAS dean would not be appointed until after the university appointed a permanent provost. The university plans to use a search firm to begin a provost search this spring.

After Girod’s comments, Lejuez confirmed that was the plan. 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,” Lejuez said.

photo by: Mike Yoder

In this file photo from Jan. 22, 2019, Clarence Lang speaks to a crowd at Strong Hall on the University of Kansas campus. Lang is interim dean of the University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as a professor and chair of KU’s Department of African and African-American Studies.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Jennifer Hamer, vice provost for diversity and equity, and Carl Lejuez, interim provost and executive vice chancellor, share their college experiences at the University of Kansas’ opening convocation on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, at the Lied Center.

Related stories

Feb. 20, 2019 — KU chancellor says university will select permanent provost before liberal arts dean

Feb. 6, 2019 — KU still mum on next steps for liberal arts dean position

Jan. 24, 2019 — Interim dean declines controversial direct appointment to lead KU’s largest school

Jan. 18, 2019 — Some KU faculty support controversial hiring process for dean; they say ‘crisis’ demands it

Jan. 16, 2019 — KU chancellor says reaction to controversial dean appointment has been mostly positive, expects decision soon

Jan. 14, 2019 — Faculty group adamantly opposes bypassing hiring protocol for KU liberal arts dean, likens administration to plantation ‘overseer’

Jan. 9, 2019 — Decision on unusual appointment of KU liberal arts dean expected soon

Dec. 21, 2018 — KU official seeks to bypass protocol in appointing dean of university’s largest school; faculty leaders cry foul


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