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The search for the next president of Kansas State University is underway.

During its meeting Thursday, the Kansas Board of Regents approved a closed committee search for the next K-State president and nominated Carl Ice as the committee chairman. Current Regents board member Mark Hutton also will serve on the committee.

Regents director of government relations Matt Casey said the rest of the search committee has yet to be named. He said he anticipates the committee to gather in the next couple of weeks to begin the search process and formulate a timeline for finding suitable candidates to replace President Richard Myers, who is retiring at the end of 2021.

“One of our top priorities and responsibilities as a board is finding and hiring CEOs for our state universities,” Casey said. “There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into it, but it’s an exciting process, too.”

In a closed committee search, the candidates’ names won’t be released publicly.

The Regents, a nine-member board appointed by the governor, oversees the appointment of presidents to state universities. Casey said the search committee is a “good representation” of people across the state and its universities, and the group will begin to receive input and suggestions for presidential candidates once established.

Gov. Laura Kelly recently nominated Ice, the former CEO of BNSF Railway, for consideration to the Board of Regents. Ice and his wife, Mary, are K-State alums and longtime supporters of the university, having donated millions of dollars to the institution over the years.

However, Kelly advocated for K-State alumnus and retired U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts to chair the search committee in a recent letter to Regents President and CEO Blake Flanders.

“If he were up for it, I would recommend Pat to be the university president,” Kelly said.

(That letter can be found on Page A6 in Saturday’s Mercury.)

The Regents congratulated Myers on his retirement during its meeting. Myers, who is the university’s 14th president, announced his retirement last month.

“We’ll be sad to see President Myers leave,” Casey said. “What an incredible individual; he’s done a great job for us and for the state, and he will be missed for sure.”

Myers, 79, is also a KSU Foundation professor of military history and leadership. He initially served as interim president before taking the role on a permanent basis. Last year, Myers told The Mercury that the love of being on the campus where he attended college drove his decision to serve as K-State’s leader.

“After 40 years in the military and 10 years of doing lots of other things, I never thought I would be back at K-State as president,” he said.

A native of Merriam, Kansas, Myers retired as a four-star general in the Air Force. He served as the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2001 to 2005 and was the principal military adviser to the U.S. president, secretary of defense, and the National Security Council. In 2006, K-State named the military science building Gen. Richard B. Myers Hall in honor of his service.

In other business, the Regents passed two measures relating to the KSU Polytechnic Campus in Salina. The board approved a request from the university to amend the fiscal year 2023 capital improvement plan to include a statement for construction of a new residence hall for Polytechnic Campus students.

The 100-bed residence hall will cost an estimated $7.7 million to build — or about $77,000 per bed. The facility will be three stories and is intended for freshman students, with lounges, group study rooms and kitchenettes on each floor. University officials gave no timeline for construction. Myers said a lack of available housing in the Salina community, along with a 122% increase in new freshman enrollment over the past few years, necessitates the building of a new residence hall.

The board also approved a measure naming the welcome center at the Polytechnic Campus after former dean and CEO Dennis Kuhlman. Kuhlman died after contracting COVID-19 last December at age 72. He served as leader of the Salina campus from 1997 until his retirement in 2012.

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