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Gray-Little Announces She Is Stepping Down As University Of Kansas Chancellor

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

The State of Kansas is now searching for new leadership at its two biggest universities.

Bernadette Gray-Little announced Thursday that she will step down as Chancellor of the University of Kansas next summer. Gray-Little is the 17th KU chancellor and the first woman and first African-American to lead the university.

Her announcement comes as Kansas State University is in the middle of searching for a new president. Kirk Schulz left in June to take over Washington State University. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers is the interim K-State president.

“With many critical initiatives either completed or nearing completion – including a $1.6 billion Far Above campaign and our transformational Central District project – now is an ideal time for the University of Kansas to identify a new chancellor to guide the next chapter in the university’s history,” Gray-Little said in a statement.

“Chancellor Gray-Little has been a transformative figure for the University of Kansas and has ably guided the university during the past seven years,” Kansas Board of Regents chair Zoe Newton said in a statement.

There was no mention of what Gray-Little might do next.

In addition to the Far Above campaign, Gray-Little has also overseen a massive expansion of the KU Med Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

But she also leaves at a time when higher education funding in Kansas has been severely cut by Gov. Sam Brownback to help balance an ailing budget. Brownback cut $30.6 million in the current fiscal year including $7 million from KU and $3.7 million from the Med Center.

In the last two years, Kansas Board of Regent schools have had $47.9 million cut from their budgets.

While Gray-Little touts the new Central District going up near Allen Fieldhouse, that project came with much Statehouse controversy.

Some legislators were furious when they found out KU formed a nonprofit to sell $327 in bonds through an out-of-state agency. Some in the state Senate unsuccessfully tried to shut down the entire project..

Gray-Little came to KU in 2009 from the University of North Carolina, where she was executive vice chancellor and provost.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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