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Search Committee Membership


Dennis A. Mullin, Chair

Appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents by Governor Sam Brownback in 2015, Regent Mullin currently serves as Chairman and CEO of Steel and Pipe Supply, one of the largest steel service centers in the nation. Mullin graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School in 1966. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1970 from Pittsburg State University. He is a member of the Business Advisory Council for the College of Business Administration at Kansas State University, and a board member of the Kansas State Bank of Manhattan. Mullin is a past president of many organizations in his community, all of which he remains active with, including the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, Manhattan Rotary Club, and Flint Hills Christian School. He and his wife, Rhonda, have two children and four grandchildren. In his free time, he enjoys watching his grandchildren play sports and everything K-State. 

Jarold W. Boettcher, Vice-Chair

A former Regent, Boettcher was appointed to the Board in 2007 by Governor Kathleen Sebelius and served from 2007-2011. He is the President of Boettcher Enterprises, Inc., Boettcher Supply, Inc., and Boettcher Aerial, Inc., which together employ approximately 40 Kansans in the Beloit (KS) area. Boettcher’s career has included work as an investment analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette, in New York City, and at Waddell & Reed in Kansas City. He has served as a Trustee of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System from 1991 to 2008, including terms as Chair and Vice Chair. He has also served on various committees of the Kansas State University Foundation since 1981, including terms as Chair of the Investments Advisory Committee (1986-1999), Chair of the Executive Committee, and member of the Foundation Board of Directors from 1986-2003; and served as a member of the Kansas State University Alumni Association Board from 2004-2011, and was Chair from 2009-2010. In addition, Boettcher served on the last Presidential Search Committee for Kansas State University (2008-2009) and currently serves as a member of the Kansas Bioscience Authority (2009-present). He received a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from Kansas State University in 1963, and a master’s degree in 1966 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. He and his wife, Barbara, have four grown children. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, amateur car racing, and spending time with his grandchildren.

Blake Flanders, Ph.D.

Blake Flanders is the President and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents, the governing board of the state’s six universities and the statewide coordinating board for all 32 public higher education institutions in Kansas. The Kansas public higher education system consists of six state universities, a municipal university, nineteen community colleges, and six technical colleges, and serves approximately 250,000 students annually. Most recently, Blake served as the Vice President for Workforce Development for the Kansas Board of Regents and provided executive leadership for the Kansas Postsecondary Technical Education Authority. In this role, he was the state leader for issues involving the state's postsecondary education and training system, including targeted expansion of engineering and nursing programs. His scope of responsibility also included developing a policy agenda for postsecondary technical education, curriculum and program evaluation, system funding, benchmarks and accountability, and the management of federal initiatives. Blake also led the state-level evaluation of research proposals within the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Blake grew up on a farm north of Edson, Kansas and is a graduate of Goodland High School. He earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in animal science, and later a Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from Kansas State University. Dr. Flanders and his wife Risa have three children and reside in Topeka.


Carl Ice

Carl Ice was appointed to his current position of President and Chief Executive Officer for BNSF Railway on January 1, 2014. During his 37 years with BNSF [and predecessor, Santa Fe Railroad] he has held leadership positions in most major divisions of the railroad. A native Kansan, Ice graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from KSU in 1979. He has remained active with the school and serves on the KSU Foundation Board of Directors and Board of Trustees. Under his role with the Foundation, he chairs the Finance & Audit Committee and serves on the Executive Committee and Asset Management Committee. Separate from the Foundation, Ice previously served as chair of the College of Engineering Advisory Council and serves on the Campaign Steering Committee. He was honored in 2009 as an Engineering Alumni Fellow and has been inducted into the College of Engineering Hall of Fame. Carl and his wife, Mary, have two grown children, Marshall and Karen, and live in Westlake, Texas. Both Mary and Marshall are graduates of Kansas State University.

Travis Lenkner

Travis Lenkner is Chair of the K-State Alumni Association Board of Directors. Originally from a farm and ranch near Coats, he is a graduate of Kansas State University and the University of Kansas School of Law. While at K-State, Lenkner was Student Senate Chair and Editor-in-Chief of the Kansas State Collegian; as an alumnus, he has remained actively involved with the university. Now based in Chicago, Mr. Lenkner is a Managing Director of Gerchen Keller Capital, LLC, the world's largest investment firm focused on legal and regulatory risk. Previously, he was Senior Counsel at The Boeing Company in Chicago and a commercial litigation attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in New York and Washington, D.C. He also served as a law clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Sylvia White Robinson, Ph.D.

Sylvia White Robinson, Ph.D. is an independent consultant with an emphasis on leadership development and executive coaching. She brings a wealth of experience in philanthropy, education, research and evaluation, strategic planning and professional development to this position. Prior to becoming a consultant, she was president of the Swope Center for Career Advancement with Swope Community Enterprise. Dr. Robinson has also served as a vice president with the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and Director of Education Policy for Governor Sebelius of Kansas. Prior to being appointed as the Director of Education Policy, Dr. Robinson was a vice president with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Robinson graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, and received a Master of Science degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. A former Regent, Robinson was appointed to the Board by Governor Bill Graves and served from 1996-2000. Robinson’s civic activities have included serving on boards of directors for the Kansas City Kansas Board of Education, University of Kansas Medical Center’s Hospital Authority Board, K-State Foundation Board of Trustees, the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City Board, the Children’s Cabinet of Kansas Board and most recently the Kansas State Alumni Association Board of Directors. Robinson has received numerous awards and recognition during her career. In 2005, she was selected Alumni Fellow for Kansas State University in the College of Education and was inducted into the Mid-America Educator Hall of Fame at the Kansas City Kansas Community College. Dr. Robinson resides in Kansas City, KS with her husband Roy and two children Roy Robinson Jr. and Cynthia Fails, all of whom are K-State graduates.

Mary Vanier

Mary Vanier grew up west of Salina, Kansas and is a 1989 graduate of Kansas State University. After graduation, she lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and worked in public relations and marketing in the hospitality industry. In 1999, Vanier moved back to Kansas to become President of Grand Mere Development, developer of Manhattan’s only master-planned golf course community where she continues to serve. Her family has provided long-time philanthropic support to Kansas State University and K-State Athletics, and she currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Kansas State Foundation where she serves as the Development Committee Chair. 


John Currie

Since John Currie's introduction as director of athletics in May 2009, Kansas State has experienced a tremendous turnaround, unprecedented athletic and academic accomplishments and perhaps the most successful seven year period in department history. Driving toward the vision of a Model Intercollegiate Athletics Program, Currie's rebuilt senior leadership team turned an inherited deficit into national acclaim as one of the NCAA's most financially solvent programs, and by August 2016 will have completed $210 million in comprehensive facility improvements benefitting all 16 Wildcat teams, all privately funded with zero state tax or university tuition dollars. Currie leads one of the most productive and efficient programs in the country, and his seven year tenure has included team Big 12 Championships in football (2012), men’s basketball (2013) and baseball (2013), 16 team NCAA tournament invitations in men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and baseball, and 45 Big 12 and 8 NCAA individual championships. Record attendance across all sports, including a current streak of 27 consecutive football sell-outs, a near doubling of the Ahearn Fund to 10,000 members in all 50 states, and careful stewardship help provide a tremendous home field advantage for 450 Wildcat student-athletes, while adding value as the only university in Kansas and one of just two dozen nationally to operate without any state tax or university tuition dollars or subsidies.


Ethan Erickson

Ethan Erickson serves as the Assistant Vice President for Budget Planning at Kansas State University. Erickson is responsible for the operation of the university budget office, which develops and tracks the annual operating budget for the University, and works extensively with the University Budget Advisory Committee as well as University Leadership in facilitating the allocation of general use resources for the institution. Previously, Erickson served as the Director of Fiscal Services and Operations at the Kansas Department of Education where he managed a budget of approximately $3.8 billion. Prior to joining the Kansas Department of Education, he was the Chief of the Budget Office with the Kansas Department of Transportation. Erickson has over 13 years of budgeting and policy experience, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and a Master of Business Administration, both from Kansas State University.

John Buckwalter

John Buckwalter currently serves as dean of the College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University, which is comprised of four departments, a school, multiple centers and institutes, and has an enrollment of roughly 3,000 students. Prior to joining K-State in 2013, he spent six years at the University of Texas at Arlington as chair of the department of kinesiology and then as the associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Education and Health Professions. Prior to moving to Texas he spent 12 years at the Medical College of Wisconsin and was a faculty member in the department of anesthesiology. Dr. Buckwalter earned a B.A. in Spanish at Centenary College in Shreveport Louisiana and both a master's degree and Ph.D in kinesiology from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. During the 2011-2012 academic year, Dr. Buckwalter was selected for the American Council on Education's fellowship program with a year placement at Texas Christian University.

Dr. David L. Griffin, Sr.

Dr. Griffin is Assistant Dean/Director of the Center for Student and Professional Services in the Kansas State University College of Education. Over the past 25 years, Griffin has served Kansas State University, the College of Education, and the State of Kansas in a number of ways, including service on two previous K-State Provost Search Committees, past chair of the General Grievance Board, and membership on the Kansas Council for Social Studies State Board, Wonder Workshop Children’s Museum Board of Directors, Nancy Kassebaum Student Scholars Selection Committee, Presidential Commission on Multicultural Affairs, Dorothy L. Thompson Civil Rights Lecture Series, NAACP Education Committee, Manhattan/Ogden USD 383 Superintendent Finance Advisory Committee, K-State American Ethnic Studies Governance Board, and K-State Black Faculty/Staff Alliance. He received a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from Lane College (Jackson, TN) in 1968, a master’s degree in Secondary School Administration from Central Missouri State University in 1972, and Ed.D. in Educational Administration from Kansas State University in 1994. Married to Jamie Griffin, who is also employed at Kansas State University, they have one son, David, Jr., who is a graduate of K-State. In 2008, Dr. Griffin received the "Inspire by Example Award" for Outstanding Faculty Member, in 2006 was named "Professor of the Week" by the Faculty Senate, and in 2005 received The Burt A. Mayberry Award as Outstanding Educator of the Year.

Fred Guzek

Professor Guzek joined the faculty of Kansas State University in 2003. He currently serves as K-State Faculty Senate President. Other leadership roles have included Salina Faculty Senate Caucus chair, College Advising and Planning Council chair, and Sam M. Walton Free Enterprise Fellow. Prior to his arrival at K-State, Fred enjoyed a career in business-to-business marketing, serving in sales and management in radio advertising, computer sales, and the materials handling industry. He also served for two years as visiting faculty at ESC-Clermont Graduate School of Management, Clermont-Ferrand, France. Within his community, Fred is past President of the Dover (Kansas) Community Foundation and serves on the board of Shawnee County Fire District #4. Guzek has received several awards at K-State, including a Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence, and the McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award. He received a bachelor’s degree in Earth Science from Lake Superior State University (Sault Ste. Marie, MI) in 1977, a master’s degree in public and private management from Yale University (New Haven, CT) in 1995, and his Ph.D. in Business Administration from University of Kansas in 2003.

Dr. Mike Tokach

Named among the 50 people who has made the greatest impact in the swine industry in the last 50 years, Mike Tokach, professor of animal sciences and industry, is a swine extension specialist and researcher for K-State Research and Extension. Tokach joined K-State in 1991. In 2013, he earned the title of University Distinguished Professor, serving as President in 2015-2016. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the K-State Research Foundation and American Society of Animal Science, and is the author of more than 250 articles in scientific journals, seven book chapters, and more than 800 extension and non- refereed articles. Tokach has received more than $8 million in research grants, has been awarded seven patents for his research, and has given more than 250 invited lectures at national and international conferences. He has also advised and mentored over 50 advanced-degree students and visiting professors since joining the university.

Dr. Mary Hale Tolar

Dr. Mary Hale Tolar serves as Director of the Staley School of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University, holds the Mary Lynn and Warren Staley Chair for Leadership, and is a tenured member of the faculty. Tolar was appointed by the president to serve on the K-State 2025 strategic planning committee and Strategic Enrollment Management Task Force. As director, she collaborated successfully with donors and campus partners to build an $11 million privately-funded building, and establish an endowed chair and an endowment for Leading Change Institutes. A Truman Scholar and Rhodes Scholar, Tolar is a graduate of Topeka High School and two-time alumna of K-State (1990; 2009). In 2003, she returned to Kansas to be the founding executive director of Kansas Campus Compact, a statewide organization of two-year and four-year, public and private colleges and universities. She served on the Kansas Volunteer Commission from 2004-2007, was a member of the original faculty class of the Kansas Leadership Center (2008-2009) and has since served on the KLC’s Guiding Coalition. Previous to returning to Kansas, Tolar served in higher education administration at the University of Tulsa, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Willamette University, George Washington University, and as Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.


Olivia Baalman

Olivia Baalman is a sophomore at Kansas State University from Wichita, KS, studying Computer Science with minors in Business and Leadership Studies. During her time at K-State, she has been involved in Student Governing Association, both as a two-time elected Senator for the College of Engineering and as an Intern, which taught her a lot about the university as a whole and allowed for her involvement in a number of committees making decisions affecting the student body. Learning how to establish relationships and work with Faculty and Staff in order to best serve the University has been a valuable part of this experience. Additionally, Baalman has had the opportunity to conduct Undergraduate Research through the Developing Scholars Program, specifically exploring Information Visualization in Big Data Analytics. As an Undergraduate Lab Teaching Assistant, she has enjoyed a different, behind- the-scenes perspective of the classroom. Many organizations spread across campus, including those listed above, along with the Greek Community and Society of Women Engineers have played large roles in shaping Baalman’s personal experience at K-State. "I love the diverse opportunities and overall experience K-State provides students and I look forward to bringing in an inclusive President to lead our University."

Jessica Van Ranken

Earlier this month, Jessica Van Ranken was sworn in as Student Body President of Kansas State University. She believes she earned the office after dedicating time and energy to Kansas State over the last two years through a variety of student leadership positions, including Student Governing Association. She writes: "I am incredibly appreciative of the opportunities I have had to serve my university and become more educated on matters concerning its functions, planning, and priorities. Coming to Kansas State from a small Kansas town, I have cherished the chance to be part of a university community which truly acts as a community. I value the mission of Kansas State, and view my role as Student Body President as an integral piece in maintaining the access and excellence of our land-grant institution."

Nicholas G. Wiggins

Nicholas G. Wiggins is the program coordinator for Call Me Mister, an African-American teacher education program housed in the College of Education at Kansas State University. He is also a graduate student in the College of Education, pursuing a degree in Educational Leadership with a certificate in Academic Advising. He received his undergraduate degree in communication studies in 2013 from Kansas State University. After finishing his undergraduate degree, Nick started a community development agency entitled R.I.S.E. (Relentlessly Intensely Superseding Expectations), focusing on the development of the physical and mental health of young people. He is originally from Independence, Missouri, moving to Olathe, Kansas, after his mother remarried. Being raised as a young child by his mother, and then with the presence of a step-dad, Wiggins learned the importance of a two-parent household and the difference it can make both inside and outside the home. He writes: "Not only are youth my passion, but they are our future. The direction that we are giving the youth now is vital to the success and progression of our country in the future. I feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity to direct and lead our young people to a brighter future by creating "monumental life-changing experiences."

University Support Staff

Kerry Jennings

Kerry Jennings grew up "in the center of the 48 States," Lebanon, KS. After graduating from high school and Colby Community College, he completed his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Kansas State University. While working in that industry, Jennings was offered the opportunity to learn a new skill and trade in the electrical industry, which lead to working at Kansas State University in Housing and Dining Services. Jennings first joined the Housing and Dining Services maintenance team in 1998 as an Electrician I. Over the years, he has advanced to his current position as senior manager of the maintenance shops, overseeing the carpentry, electrical, grounds, HVAC, plumbing and painting areas of maintenance. Jennings also oversees energy management, contract performance, and employee/public safety. He had the privilege of serving as President of the K-State University Support Staff Senate from 2014-2015, and is currently Chair of the Governmental Relations Committee for the University Support Staff Senate. Jennings currently has a Master Electrician license and is pursuing a Master's Degree in Public Administration.

Wider Manhattan Community

Kent Glasscock

Kent Glasscock is the president of K-State’s Institute for Commercialization (KSU-IC), which deploys technological innovation throughout the world stemming from Kansas State University research via licensing, corporate partnerships, and new company creation. During Glasscock's tenure, KSU-IC has generated more than $30 million in direct benefit back to the university. Prior to joining KSU-IC in 2003, Glasscock spent 16 years in public office including service as Mayor, Majority Leader, and Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives. In 2012, Ingram's magazine named Glasscock one of its "50 Kansans You Should Know." Glasscock has a long history of community leadership in Manhattan with service on literally hundreds of committees, boards, and task forces. He has chaired or served on the steering committee of numerous K-12, quality of life, and economic development initiatives that have created public/private community investment of over $500 million. Glasscock also serves as chairman and CEO of his family retail lumber and construction businesses operating in Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas. He is a Kansas State University graduate, earning a bachelor's degree in English in 1976 and grew up in Manhattan, Kansas.

James L. Gordon

James Gordon has been a Kansas resident his entire life, growing up in Fort Scott and graduating from Fort Scott Community College prior to attending Kansas State University. He graduated from Kansas State in 1976 and became a Certified Public Accountant in 1979. Having worked in Manhattan since 1980, Gordon became a partner in the Accounting Firm in 1986, and has been very active in the Manhattan community, supporting K-State in a number of ways. Gordon is currently Chairman-Elect of the Greater Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.