LJWorld.com weblogs Heard on the Hill
An omen for KU chancellor search? In announcing new K-State president, Regents praise closed process
If the presidential search over at Kansas State University is any indicator — and it probably is — the Kansas Board of Regents appears as likely as ever to choose a closed process for hiring a new chancellor at the University of Kansas.
Finalists for K-State's presidency remained confidential until the end when, on Tuesday morning, the board publicly voted to hire interim president Richard Myers as the university’s 14th president, in a ceremony broadcast online from the K-State campus. Even Myers himself appears not to have known who he was up against. Moments after being announced, Myers thanked the board for selecting him, presumably above other finalists.
“I’m privileged and humbled to gain the confidence of the Board of Regents, and I thank you very much for that," Myers said. "I guess I should say to the search committee, to gain your confidence that at least I was one of the names you forwarded. I don’t know how many you forwarded or where I was on that list” — then laughing — “and I don’t want to know.”
Regent Dennis Mullin, chair of the K-State Presidential Search Committee, also thanked the full board — specifically because it approved a closed search process.
“I know that’s controversial, and has been controversial,” Mullin said. “But to me, and I’m sure the committee, reaffirmed were the quality of candidates we received, many of which had told us that they would not have applied had it been an open search. Today’s world has changed pretty dramatically for university presidents in their duties, and with that has come a rapid change with university presidents moving on in a short notice. Many of our candidates were also candidates in multiple institutions at the same time. So we were thrilled that that choice was made and appreciate that from the board.”
The board met Monday in Topeka to interview finalists for K-State president, and interviews were to be conducted in executive session, Regents spokeswoman Breeze Richardson said. Committee members indicated that they were pleased with the number of people they had to choose from. Mullin told The Manhattan Mercury late last week that the committee interviewed 15 candidates and that the board would consider three finalists, though none was named. K-State professor Fred Guzek, faculty representative on the K-State Presidential Search Committee, said in a Regents' press release: “I was surprised at the large number of applicants and how qualified they were."
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who announced she’ll step down at the end of this school year, also was hired following a closed search in 2009. In a closed search applicants’ and finalists’ names are kept confidential, and only the person who is ultimately hired is publicly announced. At Fort Hays State and Emporia State universities, which both hired new presidents in recent years, multiple finalists were announced and met with the campus communities before the board made a hire.
The Board of Regents has not yet taken any action regarding the KU chancellor search, including deciding whether to have a closed or open process. On Wednesday, during its regular monthly meeting, the board is expected to appoint a chair for the search committee and approve hiring a search firm. (Stay tuned, I'll be there reporting.)
KU’s University Senate has agreed and stated that it wants the Board of Regents to choose a more transparent search process for KU’s next chancellor, one in which finalists would be publicly announced and meet with constituents before being hired.
• Gray-Little out as Association of Public and Land-grant Universities board president: In other university CEO movement news, Gray-Little's term as Association of Public and Land-grant Universities board president is coming to an end. This week the national board of the 236-university association elected a new president, University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan, according to a University of Virginia announcement.
— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.