Letters to Campus
April 27, 2009
Dear Faculty and Staff--
Greetings! I hope this note finds you well, and that your semester is coming to a successful conclusion. With the recent announcement by the University of Idaho selecting Provost Duane Nellis as their next president, we will need to conduct a search to find both an interim provost as well as a new permanent provost. I wanted to share with you some information on these searches and my plans on how we are going to move forward over the next couple of months.
First, let me offer my sincerest congratulations to Duane and Ruthie Nellis. They have spent many years of their careers at K-State, and I certainly want to wish them well. It says a great deal about the reputation of K-State that one of our senior administrators was so aggressively pursued by the University of Idaho for their presidency. While we are losing Duane as our provost, I know that K-State has gained a new friend in the Pacific Northwest, and I look forward to hearing about the significant strides the University of Idaho will make under Duane's leadership.
With Duane's departure on the near horizon, I am going to start the search process to identify our next permanent provost immediately. This will be a national search, with a goal of having a new provost at K-State no later than Jan. 1, 2010. I have asked John English, dean of engineering, to serve as the search committee chair for this important search. John has been part of the K-State family for a couple of years, and is a widely respected dean on campus. He has a strong passion for K-State, and will do an excellent job at leading the search committee. Over the next two weeks, I will be working with John to assemble a search committee with significant representation from across the campus community. My charge to the search committee will be the same one I gave to the AD search committee — "Find the best provost possible for Kansas State University."
There are a couple of possible issues that may arise within the campus community that I would like to address up front. First, I want to assemble a very diverse search committee which will seek outstanding provost candidates from all disciplines. I am sensitive to the fact that both John and I have an engineering background — and I want to assure the campus community that I asked John to serve in this capacity because I felt he could do an exceptional job — without regard to his academic background. Second, often we might think that we should wait until August to start such an important search, since often we think of conducting academic searches around our traditional 9-month academic calendar. However, the candidates we will be contacting for a senior leadership position will be on 12-month appointments, and I am optimistic that we can generate an exceptional pool of candidates by building our candidate base during the summer. I do realize that many of the faculty members who will serve on the search may not be on formal appointments during the summer. While I am sensitive to this, I believe this search is too important to wait until August to start, and we will ask any faculty members serving on the search committee to commit to working on the search during the summer months.
To have a successful search, we will need the campus community to nominate exceptional individuals we can contact about this leadership opportunity at K-State. Indeed, many candidates for these jobs apply because a colleague they respect contacts them in an attempt to entice them into sending in an application. Thus, a successful search will depend on each of you contacting individuals you personally know that would be a good fit at K-State, and asking them to apply. As the search progresses we will be actively seeking nominations — and I will encourage each of you to be involved and nominate colleagues that you know that would make an exceptional provost.
In addition to starting the search process for our permanent provost, we will also do a parallel search for an interim provost. I have asked Chuck Reagan in the president's office to assemble a search committee and conduct an internal search for an interim provost to serve from July 1, 2009, until Dec. 31, 2009, or until a permanent provost is identified. We will use the guidelines for this search which have been established by the Faculty Senate for internal searches for interim administrative appointments.
During the next couple of weeks, we will announce the search committees and do everything possible to keep the university community informed as we move these two searches forward. With high profile searches like this, the campus rumor mill can sometimes go into overdrive. In my experience, at least 95 percent of the rumors which float around are completely unfounded. Thus, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly, and I will do all I can to provide the best and most up-to-date information.