ORONO, Maine — University of Maine President Robert Kennedy is one of three finalists for the top job at Kansas State University, according to a statement released this week by KSU.
Kennedy, who has been UMaine’s president since 2005, said in his own statement Friday that he did not seek the opportunity at Kansas State, but instead was approached by a headhunting firm managing the search.
“I am not looking for an opportunity to leave UMaine,” Kennedy said. “But Kansas State, as one of the nation’s leading land-grant universities, is one of the few institutions that I would consider.”
Kennedy and his wife, Mary, will visit the KSU campus in Manhattan, Kan., next week. The other two finalists, Kirk Schulz, a vice president at Mississippi State University, and Steve Ballard, chancellor of East Carolina University, already have made visits.
“This interest by Kansas State is recognition of the accomplishments of UMaine’s faculty and staff members, whose collective efforts are making such a positive difference throughout Maine and beyond,” Kennedy said. “It is an honor to serve this university, and my family and I can certainly see ourselves being happy here for many more years, if things work out that way.”
Richard Pattenaude, chancellor of the University of Maine System, said he was not surprised Kennedy was being considered for the post at Kansas State.
“It’s commonplace for large, complex organizations and institutions to seek out highly talented, proven leaders,” Pattenaude said in a prepared statement. “President Kennedy has earned such a reputation within the nation’s higher education community. The Kansas State presidency is a very attractive job, so it’s understandable why he would consider it.
“However, I know that it would take an extremely attractive set of conditions to entice him to leave our state, given his deep affection for and commitment to UMaine.”
Kansas State, founded in 1863, has an enrollment of more than 23,000 students or about twice as many as UMaine.
In May 2008, KSU President Jon Wefald announced he would retire at the end of the 2008-2009 academic year after 23 years of service. KSU said it expects a new president to be designated early in 2009 and to assume the presidency on or about July 1, 2009.
“The K-State Presidential Search Committee is certainly looking forward to having Bob and his wife, Mary, on campus and in the Manhattan community next week,” said Nelson Galle of Manhattan, former regent and chairman of the KSU Presidential Search Committee.
A native of the Midwest, Kennedy held posts at University of Maryland, Texas A&M University, the National Science Foundation, Ohio State University, Washington State University and the University of Iowa before beginning his tenure at UMaine in 2000. He first served as vice president for academic affairs and provost before assuming the presidency in April 2005.
Kennedy earned a doctorate in botany from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in plant science from the University of Minnesota.