KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A surgeon and longtime Navy reservist who has served as the University of Kansas Medical Center’s top administrator was promoted Thursday to chief executive of the university system.
The Kansas Board of Regents unanimously named Dr. Douglas Girod as chancellor. He will succeed 72-year-old Bernadette Gray-Little, who announced last September she would retire this summer from the post she has held for eight years. Girod takes the helm on July 1.
Girod, 59, will oversee the university’s campuses and their combined 28,000 students and 2,600 faculty members in Lawrence, Kansas City, Overland Park, Salina and Wichita, as well as research and educational centers in Hays, Parsons, Topeka and Yoder. The university has $1.4 billion in endowment assets, according to the school’s website.
Taking over the university’s top job will come with some immediate challenges, including monitoring campuses in which concealed firearms will be allowed starting July 1 and the uncertainty surrounding state funding for higher education.
“I’m certainly honored and humbled at the privilege of leading this great institution, serving the state of Kansas and, of course, the Jayhawk nation,” Girod said during his introduction on the university system’s main campus in Lawrence.
Citing five successive years of growth in freshman enrollment, he said the university “has been on a remarkable trajectory.”
Girod said he will continue championing the university’s push for inclusion and diversity, as well as expanding efforts to recruit and retain students and help them graduate at an even higher rate.
As the medical center’s executive vice chancellor for the past four years, Girod oversaw educational, research, patient care and community engagement efforts of the university’s medicine, nursing and health professions schools. Those schools have more than 3,300 students, 2,100 faculty and 4,000 staffers.
Girod, who joined the medical center’s faculty in 1994 after having served in the Navy Reserve, also served as the medical school’s interim executive dean until early 2014.
“Dr. Girod is the right person for this time of transition,” said Zoe Newton, the board of regents’ chairwoman. “His 23 years of service are a testament to Dr. Girod’s love and commitment to KU.”
Gray-Little said Girod is a “proven administrator and an excellent listener,” and that with him at the helm “KU is in good hands.”
Girod earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of California at Davis, then his medical degree from the University of California at San Francisco. Before joining the University of Kansas Medical Center, he was vice chairman and research chief of the department specializing in ear, nose and throat disorders and diseases at the Naval Medical Center in Oakland, California.