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The Chancellor is the chief executive officer of the University of Kansas, overseeing campuses in Lawrence, Kansas City, Overland Park and Wichita in addition to research and educational centers in Topeka, Hutchinson, Parsons and elsewhere in the state.


Bernadette Gray-Little
2009-Present

Gray-Little_Bernadette_10065_013_BlurOpt_3500pxSince arriving at KU in 2009, Bernadette Gray-Little has focused on advancing KU’s mission of lifting students and society far above by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world. Through the Bold Aspirations strategic plan, KU will achieve recognition as a top-tier public international research university.

Prior to becoming KU’s 17th Chancellor, Gray-Little held leadership positions at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, including executive vice chancellor and provost. A native of Washington, North Carolina, she and her husband Shade Keys Little have two children and one grandchild.


Robert Hemenway
1995-2009

hemenwayA former English professor turned university administrator, Hemenway has streamlined KU administration, made the university more student-centered, created a faculty support center to promote teaching excellence and overseen KU’s growing national reputation. Research funding has grown to record levels while KU has been positioned as a major player in the Kansas City life sciences and information technology industry.




Del Shankel
1994-95 (Also 1980-81)

shankelShankel has devoted his career to  teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in biology and microbiology, but he was repeatedly called to serve interim roles, twice as chancellor as well as president of the alumni association, athletics director, dean, department chair, vice chancellor and executive vice chancellor. After his second term as interim chancellor, Shankel was granted chancellor emeritus status.



Gene A. Budig
1981-94

budigAn experienced university administrator as well as a major general in the Air National Guard, Budig helped lead KU through Campaign Kansas, a five-year fund drive that brought in $265.3 million in gifts and commitments. Annual giving for KU’s benefit rose from about $12 million to $34.6 million. He also led the effort to rebuild Hoch Auditorium after a devastating fire. He resigned to become president of major league baseball’s American League and later taught at Princeton University.



Archie Dykes
1973-80

dykesAn experienced administrator and former University of Tennessee chancellor, Dykes presided over enormous growth as the university’s operating budget rose from $98 million to $250 million. Enrollment and faculty salaries spiked, and capital improvements that totaled $150 million were completed. Continuing-education course offerings were expanded dramatically. He left to run Security Benefit Life insurance.



Raymond Nichols
1972-73

nichols Executive secretary to five chancellors over 40 years at KU, Nichols was appointed first as acting chancellor after Chalmers resigned, then given the full title until a new chancellor was hired. Despite his short tenure, Nichols adopted an affirmative action plan and work was begun on a new student hospital, visual arts facility and law building.



E. Laurence Chalmers
1969-72

chalmersA psychologist, Chalmers was challenged to keep the peace in 1970 after an arsonist struck the student union and racial tension caused two deaths on campus. He averted a student strike by agreeing to grading options that allowed KU to complete the academic year. But the Board of Regents felt he was too permissive and tried to oust him. He resigned later to lead the Chicago Art Institute.



W. Clarke Wescoe
1960-69

wescoeA popular chancellor who once sang his commencement speech, Wescoe led the university through one of the most challenging and turbulent periods in its history, defusing explosive campus unrest and responding to the near doubling in enrollment. More than $40 million in new construction was completed, including most of the Daisy Hill residence halls. He left to run Sterling Drug Co.



Franklin Murphy
1951-60

murphyMurphy was dean of the School of Medicine when, at age 35, he became chancellor. He dramatically increased funds for research, distinguished professorships, faculty salaries and scholarships. But many of his dreams for greater accomplishments at KU were continually thwarted by Gov. George Docking, and he resigned to lead the University of California, Los Angeles. When he left, more than 4,000 students protested his resignation.



Deane Malott
1939-51

malottThe first native Kansan and KU graduate to be chancellor, Malott used his business experience to guide the university through the lean World War II years by training and housing military recruits. In the boom years that followed the war, skyrocketing enrollment strained KU, which struggled to find enough classrooms and housing. More than 1,000 crab apple trees planted during his tenure still beautify campus.



Ernest Lindley
1920-39

lindleyA psychologist, philosopher and University of Idaho president, Lindley began his tenure with a massive building boom, including Watson Library, Strong Hall, Hoch Auditorium, the student union and Memorial Stadium. The Depression cost the university substantial funds and students, but Lindley won federal money from President Roosevelt to help students pay tuition by working jobs around campus.



Frank Strong
1902-20

strongA Yale graduate and president of the University of Oregon, Strong stormed onto campus declaring that KU was woefully inadequate and that much more money was needed. In return, KU would graduate students capable of solving the state’s economic and industrial problems, he said. He won increased funding and founded the schools of education, journalism and medicine and expanded extension programs. Four more buildings rose before he resigned to teach law.



Francis Snow
1890-1901

snowOne of KU’s three original faculty members, Snow reorganized the university by founding the College of Arts, the Graduate School and the schools of engineering, fine arts and pharmacy. During his tenure, six buildings were built, and the first home football game was held. Among other achievements, the endowment association was created, the first yearbook was printed, the first doctoral degree was awarded and the first woman faculty member was hired.



Joshua Lippincott
1883-89

lippincottA clergyman described as pious and moralistic, Lippincott eliminated the prepatory department, establishing KU as a true university. Soon Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi scholastic honorary societies established at KU their first chapters west of the Mississippi River. Lippincott attracted notable graduates to teach at KU but, dismayed by continuing budget cuts, he left to become pastor at a Topeka church.



James Marvin
1874-83

marvinA Methodist minister, Marvin succeeded in getting Kansas high schools to adopt curricula that would ensure KU could teach classes at a college level instead of a prep-school level. Despite budgets slashed because of drought, a grasshopper invasion and a silver panic, Marvin won funds for improvements, including a chemistry building and a stone wall to keep out wandering livestock.



John Fraser
1867-74

fraserThe Civil War veteran and prisoner of war gained administrative powers and presided over steady growth in the number of students and faculty. A second building, boasting central heat, electric lights and running water, opened. He left to serve as Kansas Superintendent of Public Instruction.



R.W. Oliver
1865-67

oliverAs the first chancellor, Oliver’s duties overseeing the 40-acre, one-building school were never clearly established by the Board of Regents, except that he was barred from directing the three faculty members. Frustrated, the Civil War chaplain and Episcopal minister soon departed to pursue church work.



Source Notes

[Source Notes: Information from the Office of the Chancellor, http://www.chancellor.ku.edu/previous-chancellors]