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Dr. Doug Girod prepares to take reins as new KU chancellor E-mail
Friday, 14 July 2017 07:28

A SECOND OPINION, The Lawrence Journal-World

As Dr. Doug Girod takes the reins as chancellor, here are some issues we're paying particular attention to.

Keep your eyes open for an important Jayhawk sighting in Lawrence. Dr. Douglas Girod has begun his tenure as the new chancellor of the University of Kansas.

It is a positive sign that Girod, who only began his new job this month, is already out and about proactively meeting community leaders. Girod, a medical doctor, comes to the Lawrence campus after having served as the executive vice chancellor of the KU Medical Center in Kansas City. Such proximity makes him somewhat familiar with the Lawrence community, but he undoubtedly still has more to learn.

Hopefully, he will learn that Lawrence is a place eager to find new partnerships and new opportunities to grow with KU. Lawrence has many initiatives and many plans, but it should never be forgotten that KU is the local economy's greatest driver and offers our greatest potential for growth. At times, the community shouldn't overthink its economic development strategy: Help KU attract more undergraduate and graduate students to the Lawrence campus.

Girod also likely will learn that Lawrence residents have no shortage of opinions about what the chancellor ought to be doing. Girod can commiserate with KU basketball coach Bill Self, who may be the one man who gets an even larger volume of such fine advice.

In that vein, though, here are some issues likely worth watching as Girod's tenure unfolds:

How will Girod tell KU's story across the state? Girod is well positioned to tell one of KU's most compelling stories: how the university saves lives through the KU Medical Center. As the affiliated KU Hospital extends its reach to other parts of the state, that story will resonate even more broadly. Girod must replicate that success with other schools. The KU School of Business saving a small town's grocery store. The Information and Telecommunications Technology Center bringing world-class connectivity to rural Kansas. The School of Social Welfare bringing needed services that a community couldn't otherwise afford. The list could go on, and Girod should ensure that it does. And he should tell the success stories far and wide, but particularly to Kansas legislators.

The Kansas economy needs all the power centers that it can muster. Lawrence should be one of those centers. KU and Lawrence have a chance to pedal downhill in this regard. It was a light-bulb moment for many when Garmin, the huge GPS company, located an office inside the business incubator facility on KU's West Campus. Garmin does not need incubation. It located in the center because it wanted to be as close as possible to the talent — both faculty and graduating students — at KU. Surely other large companies do as well. Girod should find a way to responsibly allow large and promising firms to locate on West Campus and to connect with university talent. The Lawrence and Kansas economies will reap the benefits.

Athletics is never far from any chancellor's mind. If KU Athletics indeed does move forward with a $300 million renovation of Memorial Stadium, the issue will have to be top of mind in many ways for Girod. It will take a Herculean fundraising effort, but considerable effort also will have to be made to ensure the project doesn't fracture the university community. Already there have been discussions among the faculty about all that the general university has had to do without, while the athletics department is set to spend grandly on football. Good staff morale is critical, and it will take strong leadership to help the university community understand that the future is bright across the entire KU landscape.

It will be exciting to see how KU's landscape changes in the days, months and years ahead in Girod's tenure. Without question the list of items and ideas the community presents to Girod will grow. But there is plenty of time for that later. Now, the most important message the community can send to Girod is one we should deliver in both word and deed: Chancellor Girod, welcome to Lawrence.




About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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