Decision on unusual appointment of KU liberal arts dean expected soon

photo by: Associated Press

A bus passes in front of Strong Hall on Nov. 16, 2015, on the University of Kansas campus.

An announcement on whether the current interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas will be appointed dean for the next three years could come sometime next week.

“We are using this week to look closely at the feedback and evaluate and prepare to report on this and other appointments with ongoing searches,” Carl Lejuez, KU’s interim provost, told the Journal-World Wednesday morning.

Responses have been flooding into the provost’s email since Lejuez’s message on Dec. 20 asking the KU community to weigh in on his suggestion of appointing Clarence Lang as the dean of CLAS, the largest school at the university.

photo by: University of Kansas

Clarence Lang

While appointing Lang goes against the protocol for hiring deans, Lejuez suggested the option after he said he had learned that Lang had been offered a dean position at a major national research institution. Neither Lejuez nor Lang has ever disclosed the name of that institution.

Losing Lang now would be critical given that the university is in the final stages of a $20 million budget cut and the development of a new budget model, Lejuez said in his December email.

photo by: Carter Gaskins

University of Kansas Interim Provost Carl Lejuez speaks during a town hall forum about budget cuts on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Eaton Hall on campus.

Lejuez gave a Jan. 3 deadline to comment, and this week he and Ruben Flores, the president of the University Senate and an associate professor in the Department of American Studies, have been reading the comments together.

So far they have read several hundred emails and will review more on Friday.

“We will tally the yeas and nays, and I want to synthesize the comments,” Flores said.

The responses have included forceful opposition and forceful support, Flores said. However, based on the range of responses, he had not yet seen an overwhelming consensus.

Lang previously told the Journal-World that whether he would stay if offered the position wasn’t as simple as being made an offer. It was also an issue of public sentiment. He said it was important that people have the opportunity to weigh in on their preferences.

“It’s really important to know how people feel about the possibility,” Lang said. “That certainly will have an impact.”

Flores previously told the Journal-World he was shocked that Lejuez wanted to appoint Lang without following the typical process for a dean search.

The routine practice is to appoint a search committee and interview several candidates, including having those candidates make formal presentations to the university, Flores said.

On Wednesday, Flores told the Journal-World that if Lang were appointed, “it would continue a line of appointments that have been made outside the established procedures; that goes against the principles of shared governance.”

Lejuez said the goal was to evaluate all of the responses and share the results next week or shortly after. Other announcements are expected in the coming week regarding other leadership positions, such as the dean of engineering.

Related story

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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