Posts tagged with Jeff Vitter

KU names provost search committee chair and members

Kansas University now has a search committee in place tasked with finding KU’s next provost. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little shared names of the chairman and committee members in a memo to campus.

She said the committee will have its first meeting in early December, and that national advertisements for the job should be appearing soon. Committee chairman is Steve Warren, professor and investigator in the Life Span Institute. Here are the other members:

Michael Branicky, Dean, School of Engineering; Tammara Durham, Vice Provost, Office of Student Affairs; John Ferraro, Chair, Speech Language Hearing department at KU Medical Center; Joshua Hackathorn, Steamfitter, Facilities Services; Aleah Henderson, Doctoral Student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Kissan Joseph, Professor, School of Business; Paul Kelton, Associate Dean for the Humanities, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Mechele Leon, Chair, Theatre department; Julie Loats, Director, Center for Online & Distance Learning; Susan Lunte, Distinguished Professor, Chemistry; and Jessie Pringle, Student Body President.

Gray-Little said in the memo she was confident the search would attract top candidates from across the country. “This is an exciting and important search for the University of Kansas,” she wrote. “We have made great progress implementing our strategic plan, Bold Aspirations, and will look to our new provost to continue that progress.”

Jeffrey S. Vitter, selected by the state college board as the preferred candidate for Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, speaks with medical students at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Jackson, Miss.

Jeffrey S. Vitter, selected by the state college board as the preferred candidate for Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, speaks with medical students at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Jackson, Miss.

Jeff Vitter is leaving KU to become chancellor at the University of Mississippi. Sara Rosen, senior vice provost for academic affairs, will become KU’s interim provost beginning Jan. 1.

I sat down with Gray-Little Friday, and the provost search was one of the things I asked her about. Watch for my conversation with the chancellor story in the Journal-World sometime this weekend.

• Dean of libraries search: In other hiring news, another still-open search is that for a new dean of libraries. Four candidates visited KU in late October-early November. Search committee chair Saralyn Reece-Hardy, Spencer Museum of Art director, referred me to the provost’s office for an update on the process but I’ve yet to hear back. I’ll let you know when I get any more information.

• Key diversity administrator: We wrote about this hire weeks ago, but recently I’ve had a couple sources mention that she’ll be a key player in KU’s minority recruitment and retention efforts, which are getting extra attention since the town hall forum on race. DeAngela Burns-Wallace, assistant vice provost for undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri, will be Kansas University’s next vice provost for undergraduate studies. She should be on campus early in the spring semester.

• OMA director search: In case you missed the article earlier this week, three finalists for the position of director of KU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs are coming to campus next week. Festus Addo-Yobo, director of Black Programs in the division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at New Mexico State University, will give a public presentation at 11 a.m. Monday at the Kansas Room in the Kansas Union, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd. The other two finalists will be named closer to their talks.

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KU Parking director talks about challenges prior to next week’s open forum; library dean candidates on campus; students create green beehives

Kansas University Parking and Transit’s annual fall open forum is never well-attended, parking director Donna Hultine said. Will next week’s forum be different?

Hultine talked parking with the University Senate Executive Committee on Tuesday afternoon, after the committee — prompted by complaints from students to professors emeritus over newly restricted parking — asked for more information on the situation and what might be done to improve it in the future.

KU students and employees usually have plenty of complaints about parking, many sent via email, Hultine said, though this year several unpopular parking changes have created a “perfect storm.”

For one, KU Parking — which is a self-funded unit — is addressing a $15 million backlog of deferred maintenance in parking lots, which required a rate increase to pay for, Hultine said. She said past university administrations had been reluctant to raise parking rates but that this one realized, “if we don’t fix it now we’ll lose the parking that we do have.” Rates have gone up in the past two years.

Second, Hultine said, “at the same time we’ve lost a lot of parking to construction.” New buildings including the recently completed Oswald/Self residence halls on Daisy Hill and the recently started EEEC adjacent to Lindley Hall are gobbling up areas previously used for parking. Also parallel parking was removed from Jayhawk Boulevard as part of the reconstruction and beautification of the campus’s main drag, and all spaces behind Strong and Bailey halls now are reserved, among other changes (see a complete rundown of lot color reassignments and rate changes here).

“The price increase is not related to the crowding, but at the same time it feels like, ‘They’re charging me more money and my parking is worse,’” Hultine said.

New parking lots are in the process of being created, including one behind the Lied Center and one planned after McCollum Hall is razed in November, Hultine said. She also added that although many students were frustrated about crowding in popular Lot 90 (near the rec center), there were usually hundreds of open spots in other yellow lots across campus “that are at least as close as Lot 90 would be to the top of the hill.”

As for technology-enabled improvements, the new automated license plate readers and related software should make data collection easier and more reliable, Hultine said. And that creates possibilities — there are no plans yet but such data could even translate into something like “real time” parking updates that would show drivers which lots were full and which had spaces available.

The University Senate Executive Committee also talked about times that Park and Ride buses run, the possibility of someday switching to assigned parking lots rather than color zones, and the effect upcoming Central District construction will have on parking. As for that, Hultine said, expect “growing pains.”

KU Parking's fall open forum is set for 3:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Big 12 Room in the Kansas Union, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd.

Kansas University parking control officer Steve DeVillier photographs a license plate as he works to print out a citation for an illegally parked vehicle in the lot south of Robinson Gymnasium on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Starting with the fall 2015 semester, KU Parking will use e-permits, and eventually move from printed tickets to e-mailed ones.

Kansas University parking control officer Steve DeVillier photographs a license plate as he works to print out a citation for an illegally parked vehicle in the lot south of Robinson Gymnasium on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Starting with the fall 2015 semester, KU Parking will use e-permits, and eventually move from printed tickets to e-mailed ones. by Nick Krug


• Southern problems in store for KU provost?: We reported Monday that KU Provost Jeff Vitter has been tapped to become the next chancellor at Ole Miss (thanks to fellow reporter Karen Dillon for picking up that story while I was out of the office). It’s still not clear when Vitter would take over there presuming he’s officially voted in next week as expected, but according to The Clarion-Ledger, one issue that “will demand attention immediately” is a flag dispute. Students at Ole Miss have rallied to have the Mississippi state flag — which contains the Confederate symbol — removed from the campus and were scheduled to vote this week on a resolution.

• Library dean candidates on campus: At KU, a search for the next dean of libraries is underway, with four finalists coming to campus in the next few weeks. They’ll present on the topic: “Vision and Aspirations for the Role of Libraries in the Next Ten Years at a Flagship State University Such as KU.” KU Libraries is the largest library system in Kansas, with more than 4.2 million print volumes in seven campus facilities, according to KU. KU Libraries employs 50 faculty, 100 staff and 175 student employees. Former dean Lorraine Haricombe left almost a year ago to become vice provost and director of University of Texas Libraries.

Candidate 1 is Paul Bracke, associate dean for research and assessment and associate professor of library science at Purdue University Libraries. He was scheduled to give a presentation Tuesday afternoon. Candidate 2 will visit Oct. 26-27, Candidate 3 on Oct. 28-29 and Candidate 4 on Nov. 2-3.

• Former business dean dies: L. Joseph Bauman, a former KU School of Business dean, died earlier this month. Bauman spent most of his career — before and after his time as business dean in the early 1990s — working in business rather than academia, according to his obituary. He was 75.

• Sustainable sculpture en plein air: I came across this outdoor class Tuesday afternoon, asked what they were doing and snapped a picture. I also noticed there were bees floating around the sculptors while they worked (presumably from the Dyche Hall colony) — probably a good sign if the hives-in-progress seem approachable to them.

Kansas University art major Jake Kaufmann, a senior from Elkhorn, Neb., weaves a "sun hive" Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 20, 2015, in front of Dyche Hall. Kaufmann was part of associate professor of art Matt Burke's Social and Sustainable Art Practices class. Burke said the hives will ultimately be used by local farms as a more sustainable and nature-emulative way to house bee colonies than the more typical boxes.

Kansas University art major Jake Kaufmann, a senior from Elkhorn, Neb., weaves a "sun hive" Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 20, 2015, in front of Dyche Hall. Kaufmann was part of associate professor of art Matt Burke's Social and Sustainable Art Practices class. Burke said the hives will ultimately be used by local farms as a more sustainable and nature-emulative way to house bee colonies than the more typical boxes. by Sara Shepherd

• Conference for pharmaceutical chem prof: Wednesday kicks off a three-day tribute — academia style — to recently retired distinguished pharmaceutical chemistry professor Ron Borchardt (we had this profile on Borchardt right after he taught his last class in May). “A Tribute to Ronald T. Borchardt – Teacher, Mentor, Scientist, Colleague, Leader and Friend” is expected to draw hundreds of people from around the country, according to organizers. Following registration, events begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the School of Pharmacy building with opening remarks and a keynote lecture by John Martin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gilead Sciences Inc., “Three Decades of Advances in Nucleotide Antivirals: From Research to Expanding Access.” Lectures by scientists from KU and other universities, talks by industry representatives, poster sessions and a panel discussion are planned all day Thursday and Friday at Theatre Lawrence.

• Haunting lecture: “Goat Bones in the Basement: A Case of Race, Gender and Haunting in Old Savannah” is the title of an upcoming presentation by University of Michigan Professor Tiya Miles, who is this year’s Bill Tuttle Distinguished Lecturer in American Studies at KU. Her talk will address slavery and “dark tourism,” or visiting sites known for morbid events. It’s set for 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, in Woodruff Auditorium of the Kansas Union, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd. Miles is also doing a reading and book signing at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Raven Book Store, 6 E. Seventh St. More on Miles and her work here.

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By email at, by phone at 832-7187 or on Twitter @saramarieshep.


Proposed policy would give KU faculty post-tenure reviews every seven years

It's been awhile since we've checked in on the development of post-tenure review for KU faculty, which is set to go into place about one year from now because of a new Kansas Board of Regents policy.

KU's faculty governance leaders have been thinking hard about the concept over the past few months, hoping to have a strong voice in what happens. Faculty hold the concept of tenure very dear, saying it guarantees them the freedom to do research without outside influence, so a change in how tenured professors are evaluated is naturally going to draw some attention. (KU's policy says faculty who've earned tenure can be dismissed only for adequate cause, unless a program is discontinued or there's some sort of extraordinary financial emergency. Faculty will tell you it's a myth that tenure equals guaranteed lifelong employment).

And now we know a bit more about what "post-tenure review" might mean for KU faculty members. At the direction of Provost Jeff Vitter, a committee of faculty from around the Lawrence campus has created a proposed policy for post-tenure review. It may not surprise you to hear that the policy is pretty lengthy and detailed (it was written by a bunch of professors, plus one librarian), but here are a few quick takeaways:

• It would require each faculty member who's earned tenure to undergo a post-tenure review once every seven years, with a few exceptions. That's on the high end of the interval specified by the Board of Regents, which asked for reviews every five to seven years. That means a lot of professors wouldn't go through the process until nearly 20 years into their careers, as faculty must be considered for tenure by their sixth year, and KU expects them to apply to be promoted to full professor from associate professor about five or six years after that (as Vitter notes in this letter here). A promotion like that would reset the clock on post-tenure review.

• The idea of these reviews would be to get a long-range view of where a faculty member's career is headed. Faculty would still undergo annual evaluations as they do now.

• The review would be conducted by other tenured faculty in the person's university unit, then passed through one or two levels of administrators and ultimately to the provost, who would either accept it or call for a "university level" review.

• The policy lists some possible results that could come out of each review. This would include recognition for faculty who've performed better than expected, perhaps in the form of nomination for a promotion or award (other ideas thrown out by faculty, per some meeting minutes, included a salary bump, a reduction in teaching responsibilities for a year or free KU basketball tickets). Another result might be changes or support for a faculty member to either continue to develop or to improve in areas that need improvement, which could include "differential allocation of effort" — that means directing a professor to focus more on teaching or research, rather than focusing equally on both, depending on which one is a strength. Finally, one possible result would be a recommendation for the member to be fired, though it would need to be according to the policies that already exist for that.

Some explanatory comments sum things up by saying "the primary focus of post-tenure review is faculty development." (That is, its main purpose isn't to be correctional.) The whole policy is posted for viewing online here, and the leaders of the effort want other faculty to read it over and offer their thoughts.

Faculty governance leaders say Vitter has given indications he generally approves of the policy, and those faculty also approve, even if they probably wouldn't have created the policy if they hadn't been required to. The aim is for faculty to approve a final policy in fall 2013, to go into place in fall 2014.

This has been your dive into the word-filled deep end of the university policy swimming pool for the week. Time to come up for air. Help me do that by sending me another KU news tip, quick, to

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    KU events this week: Marrow drive, NPR White House correspondent talk, provost lecture on ‘big data’

    Your weekly KU events roundup, on a Monday during which, as I write, sub-freezing temperatures remind us that there's still another week to go before spring break:

    • As we told you last week, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the KU Credit Union, 3400 W. Sixth St., is a marrow donor drive in honor of 2012 KU grad Laura Hollar, who's battling leukemia.

    • KU Provost Jeff Vitter is also a distinguished professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and he'll show off his computer chops in a lecture Tuesday called "Finding your Way in a Compressed World." The topic sounds intriguing: He'll talk about how humongous piles of information, used ever more these days and often referred to as "big data," can be compressed and searched in a manageable way. (The compressed version of the lecture's title, according to a KU release, is "&W$!h")

    This is his inaugural lecture, a tradition for KU distinguished professors, in his Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor post. The talk will be 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Alderson Auditorium at the Kansas Union.

    • Tuesday evening brings another date on the Dole Institute of Politics spring semester lineup: "An Evening with Scott Horsley." Horsley is National Public Radio's White House correspondent, and he'll sit down for a chat with Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy that you're permitted — nay, encouraged — to listen to. That's at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Dole Institute.

    KU-based Kansas Public Radio is also a host, as it celebrates its 60th anniversary. KPR has an entertaining Q -and-A with Horsley on its website to get you pumped up, in which he talks about the time he gave the president a piece of his mom's zucchini bread and other tidbits.

    In case you can't make it to the Dole Institute, the KU School of Journalism will also be broadcasting the event live on Knology or KU ResNet channel 31 and AT&T channel 99, as well as streaming it online at this link right here.

    • Also on Tuesday — this is shaping up to be a busy day — the KU Honors Program will serve up another entry in its lecture series on "The Digital Humanities": Kathryn Tomasek. an associate professor of history at Wheaton College in Illinois, will give a talk called "Oh My Dear Father! Uncovering Religious Networks through a Daughter's Journal." She and her students conduct digital research of the history of the college. That's at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in The Commons at Spooner Hall.

    • The KU Natural History Museum has another of its Science on Tap events, uh, on tap: Sharon Billings, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, will discuss how plants and soil serve to regulate the climate here on Earth, and how humans are changing that. That's 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Free State Brewing Co., 636 Massachusetts St.

    • And, as you may have seen last week, award-winning author Edwidge Danticat will visit for a lecture 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union, as well as an informal Q-and-A session 10 a.m. Thursday at the Hall Center for the Humanities.

    I've surely missed something someone feels is of interest. But on this wild and wonderful world of the Web, you have the power to share news with the entire world with a few taps on your keyboard. By which I mean you can just post any other events this week in the comments below. And send your KU news tips to


    KU provost Vitter back from 12-day China trip

    I've been talking lately with a few KU faculty members who regularly travel overseas about their joy at the news they'll be able to access wireless internet internationally. Provost Jeff Vitter is not among those I've talked to, but I can report he is an international traveler, as well: He returned two weeks ago from a 12-day trip to China.

    Gavin Young, a spokesman for the provost's office, reports that the main purpose of Vitter's trip was to attend (and speak at) the seventh Confucius Institute Conference in Beijing, as well as the KU Confucius Institute Advisory Board Meeting in Wuhan. (KU is among about 80 U.S. institutions with Confucius Institutes, which are cooperative ventures with the Chinese government designed to spread understanding of Chinese culture.)

    Also during his China trip, which lasted Dec. 7-19, Vitter visited several universities to present on the subject of "compressed data structures" (note that two of the three references in that Wikipedia entry are to works by Vitter, who is also a distinguished professor in the electrical engineering and computer science department). He presented at Central China Normal University, Northwest University, Tsinghua University and Xidian University.

    A productive trip, no doubt, but don't feel bad if you've been sitting at home rather than traveling about China; just send a KU news tip to, and you can feel as if you've accomplished something.

    Reply 2 comments from Matt Erickson Lawrence Morgan

    KU looking for alternatives to new job-application system, provost writes

    We touched in October on some trouble with KU's new online job-application system, which launched that month along with a new online human-resources/payroll infrastructure.

    It turns out those problems may have been a bit more than just growing pains. Provost Jeff Vitter wrote in his biweekly eNews dispatch on Wednesday that the administration is looking into alternatives for the new system, which is called the Oracle "talent acquisition management module." He wrote that the module "is not how we want to present KU to prospective faculty and staff," and the "situation has been frustrating."

    More than 10 percent of people who've tried to apply for jobs since the Oracle system went into place weren't able to turn in complete applications, Vitter wrote. Back in October, KU HR director Ola Faucher told me that a number of applicants were apparently submitting their online forms before they had clicked all the way through the multiple pages required, and the office was trying to correct that by posting more detailed instructions.

    Until some long-term solution is put into place, the Provost's Office is taking some steps to make sure that faculty searches, in particular, continue smoothly. Faculty hiring is, of course, a big focus at the moment as the university seeks to fill 64 newly created positions.

    Though changes may be in store for the job-application system, Vitter's letter suggests the new payroll system is here to stay, saying the system is "stabilizing" after a few initial bumps.

    I'll see what more I can find out about what the problems have been, exactly, with the Oracle application system. In the meantime, if you'd like to share your experience with either of these new systems, drop me a line (

    Reply 1 comment from Ku_cynic