KU again seeking director for Dole Institute; previous hire pursuing other opportunities

photo by: APN Photography/Shutterstock Photo

The Dole Institute of Politics, 2350 Petefish Drive, at the University of Kansas is pictured March 12, 2020.

The University of Kansas is once again looking for a director for the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics after plans to hire a longtime administrator and fundraiser have fallen through.

Donors and other stakeholders of the institute on KU’s West Campus were recently informed that Erica Terry, who was announced in late August as the incoming director, has decided not to take the position.

“Today, I’m writing to let you know that Erica has decided to pursue different opportunities and is sorry she won’t be joining the team at the Dole Institute,” KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said in an email Tuesday to the Friends of the Dole Institute.

Terry most recently had been the CEO and executive director of the Susan G. Komen affiliate for Kansas and Western Missouri. The nonprofit focuses on supporting a cure for breast cancer.

Previously, Terry was a senior director for membership and corporate partnerships with Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum and also was a development director for Saint Luke’s East Hospital in the Kansas City metro.

photo by: Courtesy: University of Kansas

Erica Terry

From 2010 to 2011, Terry worked for KU Endowment as an assistant development director and also did a stint with the KU Cancer Center.

The email from Girod did not elaborate on why Terry decided to not take the position. Terry’s background in fundraising and nonprofit administration was different from that of previous directors of the institute, who have had careers in national politics or were noted presidential historians.

KU is seeking to fill the position after current director Bill Lacy — a longtime campaign strategist and former White House political director for President Ronald Reagan — announced that he plans to retire this fall.

In his email message, Girod did not provide details on a timeline for making a new hire. Lacy referred questions about the future search to the chancellor’s office. Lacy said that he intends to retire at the end of November.

A spokeswoman for KU said via email that the chancellor expects to fill the position in short order.

“We anticipate filling the position soon,” spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said. “Bill Lacy had already planned to stay on through the end of November, so there was already going to be an overlap between him and a new director and the ability for us to continue benefiting from his leadership.”

In his email message, Girod expressed confidence in finding a strong leader for the institute.

“In the meantime, please know that the search for this role confirmed for us that the director is an attractive position for talented individuals across the country,” Girod said via email. “For that reason, we remain excited and optimistic about the future of the institute, and we look forward to sharing more information with you soon.”

The Dole Institute of Politics, 2350 Petefish Drive, hosts a series of speakers on topics of politics and culture, attracting speakers from across the country. It is also home to several permanent displays related to the life and career of the former Kansas senator for whom the center is named.


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