Board of Regents selects N.C. State dean as next president of Kansas State University

Richard Myers retiring after five years leading land-grant university

By: - December 2, 2021 10:22 am
Richard Linton, the agriculture dean at North Carolina State University, was selected Thursday to be the 15th president of Kansas State University in Manhattan. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

Richard Linton, the agriculture dean at North Carolina State University, was selected Thursday to be the 15th president of Kansas State University in Manhattan. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The Kansas Board of Regents unanimously voted Thursday to affirm North Carolina State University’s agriculture and life sciences dean as the next president of Kansas State University.

Richard Linton will become the 15th president of the land-grant university in Manhattan pending completion of a contract. He is expected to assume the position in mid-February.

“I must say that I’m overwhelmed with emotions today,” Linton said. “I’m thankful, I’m honored and I’m excited to take on this incredible new opportunity.”

Richard Linton, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University, offers evidence of his new affinity for purple as the new president of Kansas State University. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)
Richard Linton, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University, offers evidence of his new affinity for purple as the new president of Kansas State University. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

He has a history of involvement in land-grant institutions as a student at Virginia Tech University, faculty member at Purdue University, department chairman at Ohio State University and dean at North Carolina State. He’s been N.C. State’s agriculture dean since 2012 and holds a doctorate in food science.

“I believe in the land grant and what it stands for,” he said. “I’m honored because Kansas State is a strong and leading land-grant university that still believes in and instills the foundation missions of research, teaching and extension.”

He replaces Richard Myers, a former four-star general in the U.S. Air Force who led Kansas State the past five years. Myers, a 1965 engineering graduate of Kansas State, announced in May his intention to retire in December.

During the news conference on campus, Linton said he appreciated the Board of Regents’ plans to concentrate on student affordability, access and success initiatives. He said the objective of helping craft a pipeline of graduates to build a more vibrant economy with Kansas businesses was “right in our wheelhouse.”

“The more we can do for Kansas the better supported we will all be,” he said.

 

New wardrobe

He confessed to not having much purple clothing in his closet. He acquired a Wildcat purple tie and a pair of Wildcat purple socks.

“I found it’s a whole lot easier to find purple socks in Kansas than it is in Raleigh, North Carolina,” he said.

Cheryl Harrison-Lee, the chairwoman of the state Board of Regents, lauded Myers’ commitment to higher education and his successful work at the university. She introduced Linton as an “accomplished higher education executive.”

“As the board thought about what we wanted to see in the next president at K-State,” he said, “we discussed the importance of finding someone with a clear evidence of leadership. Someone who was forward-thinking and understands the changing environment of higher education. We are confident we have found someone who fits the qualities we desire.”

Linton’s food science research has focused on modeling the growth and inactivation of foodborne pathogens within food systems, developing fast detection systems for foodborne hazards, and creating a computer-based food defense simulation. In 2019, he was selected to serve on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Science Board.

During Myers’ tenure as president, Kansas State adopted a performance-based budget model to drive investment in innovation and growth. The university responded to dwindling enrollment by restructuring student recruitment, scholarship programs and streamlining the tuition system.

Myers co-chaired a campaign that raised $1.6 billion for Kansas State. The original goal of the drive was $600 million.

In 2006, he had accepted a part-time appointment as professor of military history and leadership at Kansas State. In 2016, the Kansas Board of Regents appointed him the university’s president. His five-year stint as president was the shortest in more than 100 years.

The hiring continues a tradition at Kansas State of selecting men to serve as president of the institution. The first president, Joseph Denison, was a white male and so have each of the 14 others hired for the job since 1863.

 

An important job

Carl Ice, a member of the Board of Regents and chairman of the search committee, said the vacancy attracted an impressive collection of applicants.

“We had a broad group of candidates with significant skills,” Ice said. “I think that’s just a demonstration of how proud we should all be of our institution and how we should be excited about the future.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, said Linton was assuming “one of the most consequential positions in the state” as the university was linked to all 105 counties. The agricultural background of Linton would be beneficial as work on the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan neared completion.

“I look forward to working with President Linton to finish this state-of-the-art facility and bring additional research, educational and economic opportunities to the state of Kansas and advance K-State’s institutional goals,” Moran said.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

MORE FROM AUTHOR