Chancellors of KU
The Chancellor is the chief executive officer of the University of Kansas, overseeing campuses in Lawrence, Kansas City, Overland Park and Wichita in addition to research and educational centers in Topeka, Hutchinson, Parsons and elsewhere in the state.
Dr. Douglas A. Girod
July 1, 2017-Present
Before his selection as chancellor, Dr. Girod earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of California at Davis and his medical degree from the University of California at San Francisco. He completed his residency and an NIH research fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Girod then served as vice chairman and research director in the Department of Otolaryngology at the Naval Medical Center in Oakland, California. He served in the United States Navy Reserve from 1982, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander and later earning the Meritorious Service Medal. A surgeon, Dr. Girod joined the University of Kansas Medical Center faculty in 1994 and quickly rose through the academic ranks, becoming chair of the otolaryngology department in 2002. He was named Russell E. Bridwell Endowed Chair in 2008 and became executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center on Feb. 1, 2013
2009-June 30, 2017
Since arriving at KU in 2009, Bernadette Gray-Little has focused on advancing KU’s mission of lifting students and society far above by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world. Through the Bold Aspirations strategic plan, KU will achieve recognition as a top-tier public international research university.
Prior to becoming KU’s 17th Chancellor, Gray-Little held leadership positions at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, including executive vice chancellor and provost. A native of Washington, North Carolina, she and her husband Shade Keys Little have two children and one grandchild.
Learn more about Chancellor Gray-Little on her tribute page from the Office of the Chancellor.
A former English professor turned university administrator, Hemenway has streamlined KU administration, made the university more student-centered, created a faculty support center to promote teaching excellence and overseen KU's growing national reputation. Research funding has grown to record levels while KU has been positioned as a major player in the Kansas City life sciences and information technology industry.
1994-1995 (Also 1980-1981)
Shankel has devoted his career to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in biology and microbiology, but he was repeatedly called to serve interim roles, twice as chancellor as well as president of the alumni association, athletics director, dean, department chair, vice chancellor and executive vice chancellor. After his second term as interim chancellor, Shankel was granted chancellor emeritus status.
Gene A. Budig
An experienced university administrator as well as a major general in the Air National Guard, Budig helped lead KU through Campaign Kansas, a five-year fund drive that brought in $265.3 million in gifts and commitments. Annual giving for KU's benefit rose from about $12 million to $34.6 million. He also led the effort to rebuild Hoch Auditorium after a devastating fire. He resigned to become president of major league baseball's American League and later taught at Princeton University.
An experienced administrator and former University of Tennessee chancellor, Dykes presided over enormous growth as the university's operating budget rose from $98 million to $250 million. Enrollment and faculty salaries spiked, and capital improvements that totaled $150 million were completed. Continuing-education course offerings were expanded dramatically. He left to run Security Benefit Life insurance.
Executive secretary to five chancellors over 40 years at KU, Nichols was appointed first as acting chancellor after Chalmers resigned, then given the full title until a new chancellor was hired. Despite his short tenure, Nichols adopted an affirmative action plan and work was begun on a new student hospital, visual arts facility and law building.
E. Laurence Chalmers
A psychologist, Chalmers was challenged to keep the peace in 1970 after an arsonist struck the student union and racial tension caused two deaths on campus. He averted a student strike by agreeing to grading options that allowed KU to complete the academic year. But the Board of Regents felt he was too permissive and tried to oust him. He resigned later to lead the Chicago Art Institute.
W. Clarke Wescoe
A popular chancellor who once sang his commencement speech, Wescoe led the university through one of the most challenging and turbulent periods in its history, defusing explosive campus unrest and responding to the near doubling in enrollment. More than $40 million in new construction was completed, including most of the Daisy Hill residence halls. He left to run Sterling Drug Co.
Murphy was dean of the School of Medicine when, at age 35, he became chancellor. He dramatically increased funds for research, distinguished professorships, faculty salaries and scholarships. But many of his dreams for greater accomplishments at KU were continually thwarted by Gov. George Docking, and he resigned to lead the University of California, Los Angeles. When he left, more than 4,000 students protested his resignation.
The first native Kansan and KU graduate to be chancellor, Malott used his business experience to guide the university through the lean World War II years by training and housing military recruits. In the boom years that followed the war, skyrocketing enrollment strained KU, which struggled to find enough classrooms and housing. More than 1,000 crab apple trees planted during his tenure still beautify campus.
A psychologist, philosopher and University of Idaho president, Lindley began his tenure with a massive building boom, including Watson Library, Strong Hall, Hoch Auditorium, the student union and Memorial Stadium. The Depression cost the university substantial funds and students, but Lindley won federal money from President Roosevelt to help students pay tuition by working jobs around campus.
A Yale graduate and president of the University of Oregon, Strong stormed onto campus declaring that KU was woefully inadequate and that much more money was needed. In return, KU would graduate students capable of solving the state's economic and industrial problems, he said. He won increased funding and founded the schools of education, journalism and medicine and expanded extension programs. Four more buildings rose before he resigned to teach law.
One of KU's three original faculty members, Snow reorganized the university by founding the College of Arts, the Graduate School and the schools of engineering, fine arts and pharmacy. During his tenure, six buildings were built, and the first home football game was held. Among other achievements, the endowment association was created, the first yearbook was printed, the first doctoral degree was awarded and the first woman faculty member was hired.
A clergyman described as pious and moralistic, Lippincott eliminated the prepatory department, establishing KU as a true university. Soon Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi scholastic honorary societies established at KU their first chapters west of the Mississippi River. Lippincott attracted notable graduates to teach at KU but, dismayed by continuing budget cuts, he left to become pastor at a Topeka church.
A Methodist minister, Marvin succeeded in getting Kansas high schools to adopt curricula that would ensure KU could teach classes at a college level instead of a prep-school level. Despite budgets slashed because of drought, a grasshopper invasion and a silver panic, Marvin won funds for improvements, including a chemistry building and a stone wall to keep out wandering livestock.
The Civil War veteran and prisoner of war gained administrative powersand presided over steady growth in the number of students and faculty. A second building, boasting central heat, electric lights and running water, opened. He left to serve as Kansas Superintendent of Public Instruction.
As the first chancellor, Oliver's duties overseeing the 40-acre, one-building school were never clearly established by the Board of Regents, except that he was barred from directing the three faculty members. Frustrated, the Civil War chaplain and Episcopal minister soon departed to pursue church work.