Q&A: President Myers discusses how he got to K-State, time in military

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President Richard B. Myers and his wife Mary Jo Myers participate in Harley Day before the game against Mississippi State on Sept. 8, 2018. (Meg Shearer | Collegian Media Group)

Peter Loganbill, Collegian news editor: “You retired from the military in 2005?”

President Richard Myers: “That’s right, I did.”

Loganbill: “You became President in 2016 officially, but you were interim before that?”

Myers: “They wanted somebody to come in in interim capacity. I’m never sure I said yes. What I know is [the Board of Regents and I] talked about it and that one day they just called up and said, ‘Well, the press announcement will be today at noon.’ And my wife says, ‘What press announcement?’ I said, ‘Well, I think I’m going to be the interim at K-State.’ She said, ‘Did you ever tell them yes?’ I said, ‘I’m not sure we ever got that far.’

“I was honored to be asked and then I go to campus thinking they better find somebody in four or five months, I’m going back to Virginia, and then this month happened. The end of August happened, and 2016 students. I got a lot of encouragement to stay. Faculty were okay with having a non-scholar, I guess, be the president.

“One of the things that tipped me was Coach Snyder one day says, ‘Dick, you ought to just stay.’”

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President Richard B. Myers claps during speeches at the KSUnite Rally on the Anderson Lawn on Nov. 14, 2017. (Meg Shearer | Collegian Media Group)

Loganbill: “Well, after Bill Snyder says!”

Myers: “What do you do? Well, I made a big gap. I said, ‘But Coach, I’m too old.’ Well, he’s two years older than I am. He looks at me like that dog that’s studying the TV, head-cocked, like ‘You idiot, do you know what you just said?’ I said, ‘I apologize, Coach, you’re right.’ I talked to my wife, and she talked with the family.

“At the last minute, part of the last hour of the last day I could submit, I submitted my application to go through the process and was fortunate, very fortunate, to be chosen. No regrets, I love this. I mean, this is energizing for me.”

Loganbill: “How does this job compare to being the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?”

Myers: “First of all, I think the kind of skills you need, and leadership skills you need, in both places are very, very similar. A lot of people don’t realize the Chairman is not a commander of anything. I didn’t command one U.S. force of any sort. One person, the Chairman, is the principal military adviser to the National Security Council to the president, but everything is done through persuasion, or relationships. It’s not done because you ever direct anybody to do anything.

“So, that’s not unlike a college president. I mean, you get to make decisions, but you try to do it very collaborative. You get a lot of input from faculty, staff, students, and then figure out what’s probably best and take that thing. In terms of skills you need, I think are very similar. I’m much happier that I’m in Manhattan, Kansas, than Washington, D.C., these days. Higher education is so important for our state, for our nation, for our economic competitiveness. I feel like I’m in the right place doing what I should be doing at this time in my life.”

Interested in learning more about university president Richard Myers in this Q&A? Check out the “Collegian Kultivate” podcast on Spotify.

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.