Kansas State University (K-State) seeks an experienced, accomplished and authentic leader with a strong commitment to student access and success, and the mission of land-grant institutions, to serve as its next president.
Download the official university and presidential position profile (PDF) or browse the profile content below.
Kansas State University is a comprehensive, research, land-grant institution serving students and the people of Kansas, the nation and the world. Since its founding in 1863, the university has evolved into a modern institution of higher education, committed to quality programs, and responsive to a rapidly changing world and the aspirations of an increasingly diverse society. Research and other creative endeavors comprise an essential component of K-State’s mission. All faculty members contribute to the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge, applications and products. These efforts, supported by public and private resources, are conducted in an atmosphere of open inquiry and academic freedom.
Kansas State University and its 1,300 faculty educate more than 20,000 total students and provide some of the best global food systems and biosecurity research in the world. The university is progressing toward its goal of becoming a premier public research university. The university has nine academic colleges and offers more than 250 majors and options. The Graduate School offers more than 159 graduate degrees and certificates in multiple disciplines. The Princeton Review recognizes the university as one of the nation’s best colleges, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities designated Kansas State University as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University. Commonly referred to as K-State, the university is proud of its welcoming environment and considers all K-Staters as family.
Reporting to the Board of Regents, the president serves as the university’s chief executive officer, providing leadership in support of the institution’s mission to foster excellence in teaching, research and service toward developing a highly skilled and educated citizenry necessary to advance the well-being of Kansas, the nation, and the global community. K-State’s next president should be a visible and engaged leader who is able to work effectively and at ease with state and federal representatives, and build productive and collaborative relationships with both internal and external constituents and stakeholders. The president will advocate for K-State’s commitment to developing economic prosperity locally, regionally and across the state in fulfillment of its land-grant mission and in alignment with the Kansas Board of Regents plan, Building a Future: Higher Education’s Commitment to Kansas Families, Businesses and the Economy. Furthermore, the president will be responsible for advancing the university’s current strategic plan, K-State 2025, while ensuring it maintains its status as a premier land-grant institution in support of local, regional and statewide communities.
The incoming president should possess a demonstrated track record of successful leadership with significant administrative and leadership experience at an institution or organization of comparable size, scope and complexity. The president should be a person of high integrity and character with strong interpersonal, collaboration, diplomacy and communication skills. A commitment to student access and success, teaching excellence and entrepreneurial research activity that has a lasting impact on the state, nation and world will be important. The president should have the skill to manage a highly complex, multisite institution, possess a deep knowledge and understanding of a mission-focused, distinctive land-grant university, demonstrate facility in managing a budget in excess of $914.3 million and have the ability to oversee the opportunities and complexities involved in hosting an NCAA Division I athletics program. Additionally, the president should be an experienced fundraiser, and prepared to engage donors, alumni and community leaders in fundraising and development activities. The president should be a highly visible and accessible leader, both on and off campus, value transparency in the decision-making process and have a steadfast commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Kansas State University seeks a President who honors our historical legacy and demonstrates the experience, passion, inclusivity, values and inspirational leadership to advance the university’s position as the nation’s first operational land-grant university upon enactment of the Land Grant Act. The next president will impact the issues and opportunities that face higher education and the most pressing priorities affecting our nation and the world. The ideal president will be further distinguished by many of the following attributes:
Leadership: Demonstrated track record and evidence of successful leadership required to lead a highly complex, multisite, research-intensive, international, land-grant institution; ability to build upon existing momentum and trajectory of accomplishments with a long-term vision of what is possible for the future of the university; an ability to lead with courage through the change required to meet future demands on higher education institutions, including emergence from the pandemic environment and the ability to balance all functions associated with being a university president.
Vision and Strategy: Visionary and forward-thinking individual who understands the changing environment of higher education and what is needed to grow and thrive; ability to work collaboratively with faculty, staff, students and external constituents — including alumni, donors, community members, legislators and state and federal agencies — to develop and articulate a dynamic vision for the university’s future; ability to develop and implement strategies, goals and objectives that align with the institution’s vision and mission.
Collaboration, Inclusion and Transparency: A philosophical perspective of service to others, collaborative and shared governance, and an emphasis on clear, honest and transparent communication; a willingness to empower, trust and delegate authority to the institution’s leaders while holding these leaders, and themselves, accountable; can readily engage with, seek input from and build support among stakeholders to support decision-making; decisive when and as needed.
Land-Grant Mission: Presents clear evidence of understanding the university’s land-grant culture, mission and role and understands how to leverage those assets; ability to embrace, embody, champion and enhance the mission, values and culture of Kansas State University as a modern land-grant research institution with a strong statewide agriculture and extension presence and national and global impact.
Research, Scholarship and Teaching: A comprehensive understanding of and passion for the importance of being a Tier 1 research institution that embodies the symbiotic relationship across research, scholarship, creative activity and teaching; an ability to grow K-State’s Tier 1 research portfolio; a desire to champion our land-grant engagement mission where students, faculty, staff, administration and local, national and international communities engage in, embrace, benefit from and feel valued in supporting K-State’s areas of research, scholarship, creative activity and teaching excellence.
Student Support and Success: A commitment to students and their success and well-being with a focus on access to education, recruitment, retention, graduation and the general well-being and needs of students; a willingness to understand undergraduate and graduate student experiences and their unique needs and concerns; an ability to keep students’ needs at the forefront when considering institutional priorities and decisions; the ability to recruit and retain students, faculty, staff and administration from underrepresented communities; an understanding of the educational needs and expectations of a new generation of students and nontraditional students, and the integration of new modes of learning; a commitment to engaging with students and ensuring a culture of respect, inclusion and belonging.
Role of Faculty and Staff: A strong appreciation of faculty and staff and their role in implementing the university’s academic mission; a commitment to shared governance; demonstrated success in attracting and retaining highly qualified and diverse faculty and staff; a sensitivity and willingness to address the unique needs and concerns of different groups of faculty and staff to ensure their long-term commitment to K-State and their professional development and success over the course of their careers.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging: A commitment to the importance of advancing the priorities and values of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; a demonstrated understanding of and desire to work with people from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented communities; a track record of productive and meaningful engagement and collaboration with people of diverse lived experiences and points of view.
Budget and Financial Management: Experience with and understanding of complex financial and budgetary models along with a keen understanding of the financial dynamics facing higher education that impact the university’s short- and long-term financial health; the willingness and ability to make decisions among competing demands as needed to support the university’s goals and priorities; and the ability to engage with campus constituents and communicate the rationale and impact of those decisions.
Communication and Interpersonal Relationships: Outstanding communication skills with an ability to build strong and productive interpersonal relationships with stakeholders and constituent groups; a dynamic, authentic public speaker who leverages the distinctive and distinguished characteristics of K-State and its broad impact; approachable with strong listening skills and an ability to speak with courage of conviction; experience with crisis communication and a calm and steady approach when delivering messages to the campus community and external constituents and partners.
Political Acumen and Diplomacy: Exhibits strong political acumen and diplomacy, and the ability to work effectively with legislators to articulate a compelling case for the university, its research, teaching, extension and serving mission and its impact to enhance funding for the university; possesses the ability to gain the respect of and move easily with leaders across the state, across the nation and internationally while becoming steeped in the dynamics and needs of the states and the local communities where K-State has a current presence and desired future presence.
Alumni and Community Relations: Community-minded with an authentic desire to be highly accessible and to collaborate locally, across Kansas, the United States and around the world; able and willing to travel and be visible and accessible to alumni, community leaders and other stakeholders; attentive to local community concerns while being willing to collaborate on solutions; able to leverage extensive local, national and international alumni network, engaging alumni for the mutual benefit of alumni, the campus, the state, our nation and the broader international community.
State and Federal Relations: Demonstrated track record of building successful and productive relationships at the state and federal levels, including with state and federal agencies that support the campus’s research mission and land-grant status, and the preservation and promotion of higher education; understanding of and knowledgeable about legal and policy issues at the state and federal levels, especially as they relate to biosecurity research, emerging biosecurity threats and other areas of priority for K-State.
Innovation: Demonstrates a forward-thinking, innovative approach to leadership; exhibits flexibility and willingness to take measured risks and look at problems in new ways while using data to inform the decision-making process; embraces new tools, technologies and thought leadership to support decision-making and delivery of service; willing to consider new and innovative partnerships and programs that position the institution to recruit and retain top researchers, scholars, teachers and students.
Intercollegiate Athletics: A commitment to promote and champion a comprehensive NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics program in the context of a student-centered, research-intensive university.
Fundraising and Resource Generation: A strong record of success with fundraising and resource generation, and the ability to partner effectively with the university’s foundation on all aspects of fundraising, including cultivating, soliciting and stewarding major and principal gifts for programmatic, scholarship and capital project needs; a deep desire to strengthen alumni, corporate and industry partner relations for future giving opportunities; engage collaboratively with donors and volunteers to achieve the university’s goals and objectives; leadership experience engaging in a comprehensive campaign at a major research institution.
Integrity, Character, Work Ethic and Commitment: A person of impeccable character, accountability and integrity who demonstrates ethical behavior, honesty, forthrightness, consistency, authenticity and humility, and readily engages with people in a collegial, open and accessible manner; a person with high energy and a strong work ethic who sees themselves making a long-term commitment to our students, the university and the state.
Education: Ph.D. or other terminal degree preferred. In lieu of a terminal degree, candidates will have a demonstrated record of successful executive leadership and comparable credentials and/ or experience sufficient to warrant the respect and confidence of the academic community.
Procedure for candidacy
All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in this profile.
- WittKieffer is assisting Kansas State University in this search. For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by October 15, 2021.
- Application materials should be submitted using WittKieffer’s candidate portal.
- Nominations and inquiries can be directed to Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D, Suzanne Teer, Jeff Compher and Sandra Chu at K-StatePresident@wittkieffer.com.
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