Executive Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

University of Kansas
Kansas, United States
Salary Not Specified
Posted Date
Jun 6, 2022

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Position Type
Administrative, Academic Affairs, Chief Academic Officers & Vice Presidents, Deans, Executive, Chancellors & Presidents, Executive Directors, Other Executive
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
Job Title

Executive Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


College of Liberal Arts & Sci

Primary Campus

University of Kansas Lawrence Campus

Job Description

As leader of the College, the Executive Dean will aid the success of the academic personnel and administrative staff by developing a talent strategy to recruit, retain, develop, and promote performance and excellence at the department, College and University levels. The Executive Dean is responsible for ensuring full compliance to all appropriate laws, regulations, policies and accreditor standards that apply to the College, its members and the university, engaging in risk mitigation as appropriate.

As financial steward of the College, the Executive Dean is responsible for an annual budget of $98 million. The Executive Dean will develop, implement and monitor a five-year financial plan and annual budget for the College and its departments that supports the vision, mission and goals of the College in alignment with the vision, mission and goals of the campus and university. The Executive Dean will develop, execute and monitor facilities and space utilization plans for the College and its departments. This individual will provide leadership with regular communication about the fiscal condition, priorities and initiatives of the College, providing transparency and clarity to faculty, staff, administration and community members, and addressing challenges that might impact employee morale, donor concerns and accreditation standards. This leader will work in close partnership with KU Endowment and KU Alumni Association to secure gifts and fiscal resources that support world-class research and discovery, innovative and engaging academic programs that lead to student success. Currently, the College is supported by annual fund-raising revenue of approximately $7 million and benefits from a dedicated endowment of $231 million.

University-wide collaborations
The Executive Dean will connect with colleagues who serve as Deans, Vice Provosts, Vice Chancellors, and other executive leaders in stewardship of KU, and in support of the Jayhawks Rising strategic plan. The Executive Dean works closely with the Vice Chancellor for Research to plan, implement and monitor initiatives that strategically support research and discovery, consistent with the status of KU as a public flagship and research-intensive AAU institution. The Executive Dean will engage with Vice Provosts and directors who are responsible for KU’s administrative and academic administrative functions, such as finance, human resources, facilities, data, IT, academic success, student affairs, enrollment management, international affairs, Jayhawk Global and more. The Executive Dean engages other members of the Chancellor’s cabinet as fitting to address communications, government relations, economic development initiatives and matters related to Title IX, Civil Rights, and other legal and compliance matters.

The Executive Dean also will partner with the Deans of the professional schools to foster and support the academic programming at KU; lead planning, execute and innovate interdisciplinary programs at KU; and design, implement and monitor new initiatives that support Jayhawks Rising.

College responsibilities
The Executive Dean works with key administrators, faculty and staff to lead administrative support units and the four academic divisions. The chairs of each of the academic departments currently report through the Associate Deans of the College to the Executive Dean, a structure intended to support timely decision-making and effective service to the entire College by the leadership team. The Executive Dean may choose to evaluate and strengthen the structure of the leadership team to both serve the College and enable the Executive Dean to address internal and external priorities.

The Executive Dean is responsible for ensuring equity and excellence in research, discovery and creative activity; educational programs; and service that emanates from the College. The Executive Dean models and advocates for behavior that fosters an environment that celebrates diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for all members of the College. The Executive Dean also fosters a culture within the College to achieve KU’s vision.

The Executive Dean engages constantly, informally and formally, with constituents and stakeholders to seek input and perspectives on the performance of the College and to identify new opportunities to advance the mission of the College to educate, discover and serve.

Responsibilities and duties:
In addition to internally focused work, the Executive Dean maintains relationships and engages in meaningful activities at the local, regional, state, national and international levels with alumni, donors and advocates of the College. This individual also interacts with peer AAU institutions and related disciplinary organizations to advance dialogue, innovation, and sustain a vibrant community dedicated to growth, learning and service.

The duties of the Executive Dean include:
  • Shape the College to be successful in the changing environment of higher education, utilizing data, metrics and analytics to inform decisions.
  • Recruit, organize and direct an effective staff of associate deans, administrative directors and department chairs who assist in advancing the accomplishments of the College.
  • Facilitate the recruitment, development and success of an outstanding and diverse faculty and staff, managing and setting performance measures and expectations.
  • Lead and demonstrate values promoting diversity, equity and inclusion; creating a climate where people have safe spaces to listen, reflect and be heard; creating a sense of belonging.
  • Assist recruitment of outstanding and diverse populations of undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Conduct planning, visioning and succession shaping activities to ensure programmatic success.
  • Encourage effective interactions between academic programs in the College and those offered by the professional schools.
  • Enhance research programs and artistic and scholarly work within the College by garnering internal and external support and facilitating the work of faculty in obtaining research funding for both focused and interdisciplinary research.
  • Provide leadership in maintaining the rigor and quality of educational and research programs for students and postdoctoral scholars.
  • Invigorate and maintain a climate in which highly engaging classroom experiences are expected, encouraged and rewarded.
  • Foster academic excellence in all programs and explore innovative approaches to the liberal arts and sciences for majors, in general education and in student services.
  • Lead philanthropic activities and alumni relations.
  • Promote and encourage international education and engagement through research exchanges, collaborations, study abroad, and support of international students and faculty.
  • Foster effective relationships among College academic programs.
  • Formulate, manage and monitor the budget of the College.
  • Be a respected and strong advocate for the role of the liberal arts and sciences in the formulation of institutional and public policy.
  • Increase awareness of the academic and research missions of the College's faculty and students among Kansans.
Req ID(Ex: 10567BR)



The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the University's programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies and are the Title IX coordinators for their respective campuses: Director of the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX, civilrights@ku.edu, Room 1082, Dole Human Development Center, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045, 785-864-6414, 711 TTY (for the Lawrence, Edwards, Parsons, Yoder, and Topeka campuses); Director, Equal Opportunity Office, Mail Stop 7004, 4330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Fairway, KS 66205, 913-588-8011, 711 TTY (for the Wichita, Salina, and Kansas City, Kansas medical center campuses).

Conditions of Employment

Serve at the Pleasure

Contact Information to Applicants

Nominations and inquiries can be directed to:
Lucy Leske, Melissa Fincher and Jevon Walton

Position Number


Required Qualifications

Required Qualifications:
  • Earned doctorate or other appropriate terminal degree that provides eligibility for faculty appointment as a full professor with tenure in an academic discipline of the College
  • Commitment to KU's vision, mission and values
  • Distinguished record of academic accomplishment and leadership
  • Evidence of success in building a thriving, diverse community of faculty, staff and students
  • Significant experience leading successful efforts to advance excellence and innovation in research, education, and service
Preferred characteristics:
  • Inquisitiveness, humility, and personal dedication to lifelong learning, growth, and improvement
  • A collaborative, transparent leadership style that engages with faculty governance
  • Demonstrated empathetic strategies for collaboration
  • Track record of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Commitment to liberal arts and science education
  • Experience in fundraising from private sources and/or obtaining external research grants
  • Demonstrated record of successful teaching
  • Success as a respected leader of a large and complex academic enterprise, with strong preference for experience in R-1 and AAU universities
  • Substantial administrative budgetary experience as demonstrated by service in an administrative position, such as dean, associate dean or department chair
  • Ability to advance a competitive and successful college-wide research agenda
  • Evidence of successful recruitment, retention and promotion of diverse faculty and staff
  • Outstanding skills in relationship-building and talent development
  • Curiosity about and interest in a broad range of disciplines as well as interdisciplinary possibilities and connections
  • Genuine desire to grow roots within KU and the Lawrence community
  • Understanding of the challenges, opportunities and environment of public research universities.
Employee Class


Advertised Salary Range

commensurate with experience



Position Overview

The University of Kansas seeks an inclusive, collaborative and entrepreneurial leader to serve as the first Executive Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The University of Kansas (KU) is the state’s flagship university, an R-1 institution and a member of the Association of American Universities. KU’s research residential campus is located on beautiful and historic Mt. Oread in Lawrence, Kansas, and offers programs at eight other locations across the state as well as online through Jayhawk Global. The College offers more than 150 majors, minors, and certificates in 49 academic departments, enrolls approximately 9,500 undergraduate and 1,600 graduate students and employs a workforce of approximately 650 faculty and 300 staff.

The College emphasizes interdisciplinary, experiential learning and global awareness, houses a vibrant university wide Honors Program that highlights undergraduate research and service activities, and has created strong affiliations with outstanding cross-disciplinary research centers. Faculty and academic staff have emphasized the importance of continuing and expanding on relationships with centers and entities including the Biodiversity Institute, Kansas Biological Survey, Kansas Geological Survey, the Hall Center for the Humanities , the Life Span Institute , the Institute for Policy and Social Research , the Spencer Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum. These relationships have brought a broad range of disciplines together to pursue and conduct sponsored research and education at the international, national, state, regional and local levels, and have created employment structures in which faculty and academic staff share appointments to emphasize collaboration. College faculty and research staff are welcomed as members in all KU’s designated research centers and institutes . The College is home to internationally recognized scholars and scientists who brought in $44M in research funding in FY 2021, nearly 30% of the total funded research at KU Lawrence.

KU has newly designated the Executive Dean title for this leadership position because the role has exceptional breadth and depth. As the Executive Dean of KU's largest and most complex academic unit, this individual has an opportunity to establish broad transdisciplinary connections and to work collaboratively across KU to lead and implement innovative approaches and initiatives that reinforce the university's standing as a leading AAU, R-1 institution. Reporting to Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara Bichelmeyer , Ph.D., the Executive Dean will ensure the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is aligned with KU's strategic plan, Jayhawks Rising , and its three mission-based institutional priorities: Student Success, Healthy & Vibrant Communities, and Research & Discovery. Working closely and collaboratively with the Provost, the Executive Dean is responsible for the College's strategic oversight, academic programs and educational experiences; promoting research, discovery and creative activities; fostering community engagement and service activities; ensuring talent development of faculty, staff and student employees; and fiscal stewardship of administrative structures. The Executive Dean will engage with representatives of KU’s shared governance bodies and also works with fellow deans, associate deans of the College, vice provosts and KU's vice chancellor for research to ensure that a strong agenda for research, discovery and creative activity is set and prioritized across all disciplines.



Application Review Begins


Anticipated Start Date


Additional Candidate Instruction

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 the University of Kansas in this search. For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by Tuesday, September 6, 2022. The Executive dean will begin their appointment as early as January 2023 and no later than July 2023.

Application materials should be submitted using WittKieffer’s candidate portal .

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