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Some campus reaction to newly announced KU chancellor search committee members, plus historical context


This week, the Kansas Board of Regents announced the names of the people who will serve on the search committee to find the next University of Kansas chancellor — all 25 of them. (Scroll down to see the full list, if you missed my report Wednesday.)

The individuals in this group are important to the process because they’ll be reviewing applications from chancellor hopefuls, and choosing which to send to the Board of Regents as finalists for the job, in total secrecy. Because the Regents opted for the search to be closed, campus visits and public input won’t be part of the process. Thus, as committee chairman David Dillon recently told me, his goal was for the group to be an “expression of the larger university community.”

How did Dillon do at assembling his committee? And, out of curiosity, how does it compare to the chancellor search committee when Bernadette Gray-Little was hired in 2009?

Here’s what a couple of campus stakeholders said.

KU’s University Senate previously issued a statement requesting that the search process be transparent, which did not happen, and also that the search committee include not just faculty, staff and student representatives but specifically faculty, staff and students elected by their peers to university governance, which did happen.

“I'm thrilled that the Regents chose to include three students, two staffers and two rank-and-file faculty members,” said University Senate president and KU professor of English Joe Harrington, who was one of those named to the committee. “It's important that all of those seven folks were elected to represent their respective constituencies in the senates and not handpicked by the Regents or the KU administration. I feel like the campus community will have a voice in the room, and I appreciate the Regents' responding positively to our request.”

However, compared to the number of KU administrators and broader community members, the rank-and-file campus community is still in the minority on the committee — “and educators are a very small minority indeed,” Harrington said.

“Like many, I am concerned about the marketization and privatization of public education that has picked up speed lately, and I'm apprehensive of the drift in higher education towards what Benjamin Ginsberg dubbed the ‘all-administrative university,’” Harrington said. “But I am confident that we will end up with someone who has been actively engaged in teaching and who has done their homework on KU.”

I also reached out to leaders of KU’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group, an Office of the Provost initiative. Do they think this committee is equipped to help pick a chancellor who values diversity and inclusion, which has been a stated priority of most if not all KU bodies and units over the past year or longer? (Note: At least four committee members are racial or ethnic minorities.)

Group co-chairwoman Lisa Wolf-Wendel, KU professor of higher education, said diversity within the committee brings different perspectives but that individual members’ “identities” were ultimately less important than their mindsets.

“It’s impossible to have every experience or every identity represented on the committee. And further, it’s not fair to expect people to be representative of everyone from their backgrounds,” Wolf-Wendel said. “Regardless of the identity of the person who’s hired, it’s very important that the chancellor of the University of Kansas has a strong understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion — and the commitment to help achieve those goals.”

Comparing the new group to the list of KU’s last chancellor search committee members to compare, here are a few observations:

• That committee had 17 members, just one of them a student: the student body president at the time. The new committee has 24 members, including three students, all of whom are elected leaders on the Lawrence or KU Medical Center campuses. Add in chairmen and the committees number 18 and 25.

• The 2009 committee had three members designated as representing teaching faculty, though none was part of university governance.

• Each committee included at least one notable politician. This time it’s U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican who started out at Fort Hays State University and went on to receive his undergraduate and later a law degree from KU. In 2009 it was Dick Bond, former Kansas State Senate president and former chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents.

• There’s a larger medical presence. The 2009 committee had two KU School of Medicine representatives: one professor and one dean. The new committee has four, plus KU Hospital president and CEO Bob Page.

• The 2009 committee had 13 men and five women. The new committee has 11 women and 14 men. (Totals include chairmen.)

• Deanell Reece Tacha, retired federal judge and chair of the KU Endowment Board of Trustees, was on the 2009 committee and is on the new one, too.

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little leads part of the procession during KU's 144th commencement ceremony Sunday, May 15, 2016, in Memorial Stadium.

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little leads part of the procession during KU's 144th commencement ceremony Sunday, May 15, 2016, in Memorial Stadium. by Richard Gwin

KU chancellor search committee members

List and titles provided by the Kansas Board of Regents.

Alumni and foundation representatives:

— Lydia Beebe, Senior Of Counsel in the San Francisco office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and KU Endowment Association Trustee

— Greg Ek, First Vice-President and Wichita Branch Manager for Morgan Stanley, and KU Alumni Association National Board member

— Dave Roland, President of NDC Technologies and KU Alumni Association National Board member

— Deanell Reece Tacha, retired federal judge, United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and Chair of the KU Endowment Association Board of Trustees

— Steve Sloan, Chief Executive Officer of Midwest Minerals, Inc. and KU Endowment Association Trustee representing KU Athletics

Student representatives:

— Stephonn Alcorn, a senior from Gardner studying finance and the KU-Lawrence student body president

— Gabby Naylor, a senior from Providence, R.I., majoring in accounting and the KU-Lawrence student body vice president

— Christina Hughey, a third-year medical student at the KU School of Medicine, chair of the Student Governing Council for the medical center campus and that body's incoming president-elect

Faculty, administration and staff representatives:

— Ann Brill, Ph.D., Dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication at KU

— Tracie Collins, M.D., chair at the KU School of Medicine in Wichita

— Joseph Harrington, Ph.D., professor in the KU department of English and KU University Senate president

— Roy A. Jensen, M.D., William R. Jewell, M.D. Distinguished Kansas Masonic Professor, director of the KU Cancer Center, and director of the Kansas Masonic Cancer Research Institute

— Amalia Monroe-Gulick, associate librarian faculty member with KU Libraries, and KU Faculty Senate president-elect

— Robert D. Simari, M.D., executive dean of the KU School of Medicine

— Rodolfo H. Torres, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for the KU's Office of Research and a University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics

— Brian Moss, Staff Senate president-elect

— Elizabeth Phillips, president of the KU Staff Senate

Lawrence and Kansas community representatives:

— Willie Amison Jr., Ed.D., former elementary school principal and president of Amison Consulting

— Joan Golden, senior vice president of development for U.S. Bank of Lawrence

— Debbie Nordling, State Farm agent and KU Alumni Association Southwest Kansas chapter co-leader

— U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran

— Bob Page, president and CEO for KU Hospital

Board of Regents representatives:

— David Dillon (committee chairman), retired Chairman and CEO of The Kroger Co.

— Regent Ann Brandau-Murguia (committee vice-chairwoman), executive director of the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association

— Blake Flanders, president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents

— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.


Ken Lassman 1 year, 5 months ago

Thanks for the detailed information about the search committee and how it stacks up with the 2009 committee. This is a good example of how the Journal World can be a real asset to our community and improve our understanding of how an institution such as KU works.

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