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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

August 6, 2019

Extension Leadership Positions Update

Submitted by Gregg Hadley

Warning: it’s another long but important one!

Last week I announced that we are beginning the search and screen process for our new North Central and Northwestern Kansas Regional Local Unit Extension Director and our next Associate Director for Extension Programs. This week and next week I will provide additional information about the positions and the search committee.

The Northwest and North Central Regional Local Unit Extension Director will serve the following local units of northwest and north central Kansas: River Valley District, Central Kansas, Reno County, Rice County, Midway District, Post Rock District, Phillips-Rooks District, Cottonwood District, Walnut Creek District, Golden Prairie District, Twin Creeks District, Rawlins County, Thomas County, and the Sunflower District. Collectively, they will be known as the Northwest and North Central Region. Greeley, Wichita and Scott Counties will now be led, served and supported by Southwest Regional Local Unit Extension Director Mary Sullivan.

The search and screen committee for the Northwest and North Central Regional Local Unit Extension Director will consist of Dr. Jim Lindquist (Chair), Regional Directors Dr. JD McNutt and Mary Sullivan, a specialist and administrative assistant from the Northwest Research and Extension Center, a State Extension Advisory Council member from the region, and representatives from the following local unit positions in the Northwest and North Central Region:

• local unit director from the region;
• 4-H/youth development agent;
• agriculture and natural resources agent;
• community vitality agent or specialist;
• family and consumer science agent;
• program assistant; and,
• office professional.

As we think about moving forward with our search and screen for our next Associate Director for Extension Programs, I believe it is important to fully grasp the nature of this position. I have already heard of different camps developing where people are discussing political intrigue and things like “What if (someone from one program area gets the position) vs (someone from another program area)?” This position is not about programmatic or departmental advocacy. We have enough Extension state leaders, department heads, center directors, and program leader coordinators to ensure that the various programmatic and departmental voices are heard by the Extension Administration Team. In fact, if we end up with a group of finalists that all end up being program area wonks (to borrow a political term), I will declare a failed search!

First and foremost, the person in the Associate Director for Extension Programs position is charged with making sure that we address the critical issues affecting the lives, livelihoods, and communities of the people we serve and will serve. They will make sure that the Extension programs, resources and facilitation offered to the people of Kansas are of the highest quality and provided by Extension professionals that are backed by the best professional development. They will continue to expand our programmatic reach by effectively enabling us to provide programs, resources, and facilitation to new audiences. The Associate Director for Extension Programs needs to confidently and competently lead, administer, and facilitate our entire portfolio of departmental, program area, centers, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary programmatic endeavors. They need to be effective in communicating and networking with a variety of external stakeholder groups. They need to be able to promote our collective impact. They need to be an effective leader of our Program Leader Coordinator Team. They need to actively engage in and with our entire Extension Administration Team. Finally, the Associate Director for Extension Programs, like the Associate Director for Field Operations, needs to be someone we can trust to step in and lead the entire system in situations when the Director for Extension is unable to do so. A person that can effectively do all of these things is the ideal candidate who we need to become the next Associate Director for Extension Programs!

Because this is a very big and complex position that must address a large and diverse set of responsibilities, the search and screen committee will also be large and diverse. The size of the committee will also help to ensure we have a sufficient quorum for decision making at any single committee meeting. The Associate Director for Extension Programs will be led by a team of a chair and two vice chairs. The search and screen committee chair will be Dr. John Buckwalter, Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. The two vice chairs will be Dr. Joel DeRouchey, Extension State Leader – Department of Animal Sciences & Industry, and Associate Program Leader Laurie Chandler.

Committee members will include Dr. Chris Onstad (Extension Director for the Northeast and Northwest Extension Regions, the Northwest Research and Extension Center, and the Northeast Region Office), Program Project Administrator Julie Riniker, 4-H and Youth Development Program Leader and Department Head Wade Weber, Program Leader Coordinators Gayle Price, Robin Reid, and Trudy Rice, a specialist or agent co-leader from each of our Program Focus Teams, and a State Extension Advisory Council member.

Next week, I hope to be able to have a complete listing of all members of both of our search and screen committees for these very important leadership positions.