Douglas Girod, who has led the University of Kansas Medical Center for the last four years, will be KU’s next chancellor.
The Kansas Board of Regents announced Thursday afternoon that after a five-month search, the board found KU’s 18th chancellor in house.
Girod, 59, told an audience on the KU campus in Lawrence that he was “honored and humbled to lead this great institution.”
Dave Dillon, who led the chancellor search committee, said the regents chose Girod after the committee had narrowed a long list of applicants to a handful.
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The closed search never revealed the number of finalists or their identities.
“We only forwarded on the names we were ecstatic about,” said Dillon, retired chairman and CEO of the Kroger Co.
Girod, who has worked as a teacher and administrator at KU for 23 years, replaces Bernadette Gray-Little, who announced last year that she would retire this summer.
Gray-Little, who has led KU since 2009, was the university’s first African-American and first female chancellor. She came to KU from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was executive vice chancellor and provost.
“It’s hard to look anywhere on this campus and not see her influence,” Girod said of Gray-Little, praising her for roughly $700 million in construction and for shepherding the university through the most successful fundraising campaign in KU history.
“We owe Bernadette a great deal of gratitude,” Girod said.
In his new role, he said, he will focus first on student recruitment, retention and graduation rates.
He talked about creating a student experience task force to assess “what the big issues are and what are the big opportunities” that would improve students’ campus experience.
“We have to focus on this very quickly,” Girod said, adding that focus will continue on diversity and inclusion “and how we embrace it. There is much more work to be done. Not just with students but with faculty, too.”
Another big concern, Girod said, will be managing state funding for KU at a time when legislative support for higher education is shrinking. But he said having worked with lawmakers as head of the medical center gives him insight into how to better relate to them.
KU’s message to lawmakers, Girod said, “is to emphasize the return on investment. We do a great job with our state resources, but we don’t always do a great job telling our story.”
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Kansas Republican, applauded the choice of Girod.
“I’ve had the privilege of getting to know him well through our work together in building the research capabilities at KU Med through funding at the National Institutes of Health,” Yoder said in a statement. “His character and personality are even more impressive than his lengthy resume.”
As executive vice chancellor of the KU Medical Center, Girod has overseen the educational, research, patient care and community engagement missions of the university’s schools of medicine, nursing and health professions. Together, they have a yearly enrollment of more than 3,300 students, a workforce of more than 3,800 faculty and staff, and external research funding of nearly $110 million. KU Medical Center has campuses in Kansas City, Kan.; Wichita; and Salina.
As KU chancellor, Girod will serve as the university’s CEO, overseeing campuses in Lawrence; Kansas City, Kan.; Overland Park; Salina; and Wichita, in addition to research and educational centers in Hays, Parsons, Topeka and Yoder. The chancellor reports directly to the regents.
According to the university website, Girod, who is a surgeon, joined the KU Medical Center faculty in 1994 and became chairman of the otolaryngology department in 2002. While he was in that role, the University of Kansas Hospital received seven years’ worth of U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospitals, Ear, Nose and Throat” national rankings.
Girod earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of California, Davis, and his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco. He completed his residency and an NIH research fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Girod and his wife, Susan, have three grown children living in the Kansas City area.
Girod is the second leader named to a major Kansas four-year institution in the last six months. In November, Gen. Richard B. Myers was picked as the 14th president of his alma mater, Kansas State University.