Search committee appointed for next K-State president

K-State President Kirk Schulz addresses the Kansas Board of Regents during the meeting in the K-State Alumni Center on April 20, 2016. (Shelton Burch | The Collegian)

The Kansas Board of Regents named, motioned and approved 20 candidates to serve as the search committee for the next K-State president at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

The meeting took place in the K-State Alumni Center and corresponded with the regents’ first visit to K-State since 2014, according to information provided by Breeze Richardson, director of communications for the regents.

Dennis Mullin, regents member, read the “Charge To the Search Committee,” which included nine bullet points and formally instructed the committee to, among other things, “review all candidates without regard to gender, race, religion, creed or national origin.” Mullin then presented the candidates for the committee, who he said all agreed to serve.

Mullin then made a three-part motion to approve the charge, appoint former regent Jarold Boettcher as vice chair of the committee and to approve all the candidates for the committee. The motion was seconded by Zoe Newton, vice chair of the regents, and was approved with no discussion.

Mullin said the search will be closed instead of open.

“The board settled on a closed search for one reason, and that’s the fact that we wanted to make sure that we find the best candidate for this position,” Mullin said. “The reality, as much as we may dislike this, the reality is that in an open search, many qualified candidates, particularly sitting presidents at other institutions, would not allow themselves to be considered for this position.”

Members of the committee come from various groups or organizations, including the regents, alumni or foundation members, current faculty or administrative staff at K-State, athletics, students, K-State support staff and community members.

One of the three student representatives is student body president Jessica Van Ranken, and K-State Athletics is represented by Athletics Director John Currie.

The committee was named just hours after retired Air Force Gen. Richard Myers was introduced as the interim president at a press conference Wednesday morning.

K-State president Kirk Schulz provided the regents with updated information about K-State 2025, including a review of the plan now that it is five years old.

He said the university, however, needs to maintain its focus through the transition from president to interim president to the next permanent president. Schulz and the other regents, presidents and chancellors sat in the front row of the ballroom directly facing the long table where the regents sat.

“We do have some challenges, and our challenges at K-State are very similar to my colleagues’ sitting across the front row: enrollment (and the) state cap on tuition,” Schulz said. “I have asked Sue Peterson (K-State director of governmental relations) to make this her primary thing that she’s working on in the legislature. It’s your responsibility as regents to set tuition and fees for the universities, nobody else’s. It’s certainly not the legislature, and we need to have (it that way) if we’re going to have decreased funds. This is one of the major income streams coming into the university that’s now, in my opinion, artificially constrained.”

Schulz also said other obstacles included a declining state budget and decreased federal support for research.

“This doesn’t mean that you stop trying,” Schulz said. “It means that it’s much more competitive, and you’ve gotta have better ideas and better teams and greater faculty.”

Still, Schulz said there were also successes to be acknowledged as well, including the first five years of K-State 2025. Schulz said he knows that sometimes when dealing with topics like state resources, it is easy to focus on the negatives, but there were also many positives.

“It’s important the campus community celebrate that because it’s not just writing a bunch of things down,” Schulz said. “It’s our faculty, staff and students who bought into a broad vision and have put their time, energy and effort into making it happen.”

After Schulz finished speaking, Ann Brandau-Murguia, member of the board of regents, said he did a great job as K-State president.

“You’re an unbelievable university president,” Brandau-Murguia said. “I think you’ll do great in your new job obviously.”

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.