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.