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Here's Who Will Help Pick Wichita State's Next President

Stephan Bisaha
Kansas News Service/File photo

The Kansas Board of Regents formed a closed committee on Wednesday to recommend whom the Regents should select as Wichita State University's next president.Wichita lawyer Dan Peare will chair the Wichita State University Presidential Search Committee. Peare earned two degrees at WSU. He also serves on the WSU Foundation Board of Directors and National Advisory Council.

Regent Allen Schmidt will represent the board on the committee alongside Regent CEO and President Blake Flanders.

The other committee members include:

  • Rija Khan, WSU Student Body president
  • Corinthian Kelly, WSU Graduate Student Council representative
  • Sierra Bonn, a senior at Wichita State studying Engineering Technology Management
  • Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn, Faculty Senate president and director of the School of Music
  • Melissa Walker, professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Mehmet Bayram Yildirim, professor in the College of Engineering
  • Shirley Lefever, interim executive vice president and provost
  • Trish Gandu, Unclassified Professional Senate president
  • Randy Sessions, University Support Staff Senate president
  • Sheree Utash, president of WSU Tech
  • John Tomblin, senior vice president for Industry and Defense Programs and the executive director of NIAR
  • Elizabeth King, CEO of the Wichita State University Foundation
  • Jeff Turner, WSU alumnus, retired president and CEO of Spirit AeroSystems
  • Junetta Everett, WSU Alumna, VP of Professional Relations for Delta Dental of Kansas
  • Charles Chandler IV, CEO of Intrust Bank
  • Steven Packebush, founder and partner, Elevar Partners
  • Yolanda Camarena, board member, Kansas Hispanic Education and Development Foundation
  • John Rolfe, Chief Business Officer, Kansas Leadership Center
  • Paul Allen, chief executive of Allen, Gibbs & Houlik

More than half of the committee members come from Wichita State, which the university's Faculty Senate had pushed for.


The committee will hold its first meeting on Friday. By Jan. 20, the committee must provide the board with the characteristics and skills it's looking for in the next president.

While the committee will make recommendations, the Regents will have the final say on who takes the position.


The actual search will be private and names of candidates won't be released. Community members have criticized keeping the search closed while the Regents argue that's the best way to guarantee qualified candidates will apply without fear of losing their current job.


Wichita State Provost Rick Muma has been the university's acting and interim president since President Jay Golden resigned suddenly in September. 


Stephan Bisaha reports on education and young adult life for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @SteveBisaha or email him at bisaha (at) kmuw (dot) org. The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on the health and well-being of Kansans, their communities and civic life.


Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.