The Kansas Board of Regents voted unanimously Thursday for Jay Golden to become the new president of Wichita State University.
Golden is currently the vice chancellor of research, economic development and engagement at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. He's also worked at Arizona State University and Duke University. He has a doctorate in engineering from the University of Cambridge.
Outside of academia, Golden started an engineering services company in Arizona. He also served as a police officer and hazardous materials specialist in Arizona.
Part of his goal as WSU's new president is to limit the steady increase in tuition costs.
"We know what it's like as a parent receiving those lovely letters in the mail saying tuition is due," said Golden, who has a daughter in college. "We know how stressful it can be."
The university began its search for a new leader after the death of president John Bardo in March. Bardo held the position since 2012 when he was tapped to be the university's 13th president and replace Don Beggs.
Before that, Bardo had served 16 years as chancellor of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. His biggest legacy was his push to create the university's Innovation Campus. That led to Airbus, Spirit AeroSystems and other companies to create a permanent presence and footprint on campus.
The search committee has been criticized for its closed search process and not releasing the name of any candidates until Thursday's vote. The committee's chair told The Sunflower that they were looking for a president to continue Bardo's vision.
After the vote, Golden said he wants to continue to grow applied learning at the university. He called the university and Wichita the epicenter of aerospace research.
While he plans on protecting that, he wants to diversify research into other areas. He named health care, machine learning, cyber security and digital humanities as possible fields.
He doesn't see himself as a change agent. Instead he wants to grow and expand what the university is already doing.
"We have to do a better job of communicating that to people outside of the state because when they know the things that are happening in Wichita and Wichita State, they're going to be blown away like I was," Golden said.
Golden is expected to start before the spring semester begins in January, though an official date hasn't been set. Current interim president Andy Tompkins will remain in the role until then.