R. William Funk In Hunt for University of Kansas Chancellor

January 25, 2017 – Executive search firm R. William Funk & Associates has been selected by the University of Kansas (KU) to lead its search for a new chancellor. KU’s current chancellor, Bernadette Gray-Little, has announced plans to step down at the end of the school year, and the Kansas Board of Regents’ stated goal is to have a new chancellor hired and ready to start by the beginning of July.

The new chancellor must be able to “generate excitement” about higher education and research in order to secure funding, said Jill Hummels, communications manager for the university’s provost office. Being politically savvy and able to understand complex relationships within academia and between academia and the outside world will be important, according to position specifications.

The Kansas Board of Regents recently appointed 24 individuals to join search committee chair, Dave Dillon. The committee includes representation from KU students, alumni, endowment, faculty, administration, staff, athletics, and the wider Lawrence community.

“The board is excited and deeply appreciative of Mr. Dillon’s willingness to serve as the chair of this search, knowing he will facilitate a strong process to review the candidates that are brought forward for consideration and advance to us the most qualified for the position of chancellor for the University of Kansas,” said Zoe Newton, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents.

“The board has selected an impressive list of individuals to serve,” said Mr. Dillon. “I am particularly appreciative of how much this group of individuals have already given to the University of Kansas and of the diverse experience they will bring to our work. Given KU’s accomplishments and the groundwork already laid, I have total confidence that we will have a nationally acclaimed pool of candidates to consider and a clear process to guide us.”

In addition to approving the committee’s membership, the board also approved a formal charge which instructs the search committee to identify “three to five candidates who are the most qualified for board selection as the next chancellor for the University of Kansas.”

The Kansas Board of Regents, which is responsible for hiring the state’s public university heads, has used several recruiting firms in recent years to find school leaders, including AGB Search (Emporia State University and Fort Hays State University); and Academic Search (Kansas State University).


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Established in 1865, the University of Kansas is a large, state-sponsored university, with five campuses. Enrollment at the Lawrence and Edwards campuses was 24,708 students with an additional 3,383 students enrolled at the KU Medical Center for a total enrollment of 28,091 students across the three campuses.

William Funk & Associates is an executive search firm specializing in higher education executive recruitment. The firm, located in Dallas, has conducted more than 400 searches for university and college presidents and chancellors over the last 35 years, and was recently inaugurated into the Hunt Scanlon MediaTop 50‘ academic search firms ranking.

Among the nearly 70 currently sitting leaders Mr. Funk has helped recruit, many are seated at some of the nation’s most respected universities. Here’s a sampling: Michael V. Drake, president of Ohio State University; Max Nikias, president of the University of Southern California; Carol Folt, chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Teresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia; Bernadette Gray-Little, chancellor of the University of Kansas; Robert Barchi, president of Rutgers University; Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University; James Clements, president of Clemson University; and G.P. Peterson, president of Georgia Tech.

Chancellors In High Demand

The hunt for university leadership is heating up — especially the search for chancellors.

Parker Executive Search recently placed Beverly J. Davenport as the eighth chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Prior to being selected by the University of Cincinnati’s board of trustees to serve as its interim president in June 2016, Ms. Davenport served as UC’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost for three years.

Isaacson, Miller has just taken on the chancellor search for The University of California, Davis. Past chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi resigned amid allegations that she used university money to eliminate negative online search results about the institution.

Executive search firm Greenwood / Asher & Associates just placed Robert Jones as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). With more than 30 years of experience in public higher education, Mr. Jones is currently president of the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY).

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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