Gov. Laura Kelly nominated three to serve on the Kansas Board of Regents, the state’s coordinating higher education board. They are, left to right, Diana Mendoza of the Dodge City Public School District; Blake Benson, president of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce; and John B. Dicus, of Capitol Federal Savings. (Submitted)
TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly nominated a banker, educator and a chamber of commerce official Tuesday to vacancies on the Kansas Board of Regents and completed a process of placing her imprint on all nine positions of the higher education coordinating board.
The governor selected John B. Dicus, chairman of Capitol Federal Savings; Diana Mendoza, Dodge City public school director of English for speakers of other languages; and Blake Benson, president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce. If confirmed, each could serve four-year terms.
“Blake, John and Diana bring a depth of knowledge and a diverse set of professional expertise that will serve our students well,” Kelly said. “I look forward to collaborating with them and the rest of the Board of Regents to further strengthen our higher education system, prepare our students for careers of the future and expand our state’s workforce to drive economic growth.”
The bipartisan Board of Regents has jurisdiction over state universities in Emporia, Hays, Lawrence, Manhattan, Pittsburg and Wichita as well as satellite campuses of those universities. The board also has oversight of the state’s community colleges and technical colleges as well as Washburn University in Topeka.
The Democratic governor’s nominees will be subject to confirmation hearings and votes in the Republican-led Kansas Senate. The process historically was a low-key affair resulting in approval of a governor’s selections. In 2022, however, a group of GOP senators engaged in a contentious examination of nominees Wint Winter, Cynthia Lane and Carl Ice. All three were eventually confirmed by the Senate.
Kelly’s latest selections would replace board members Bill Feuerborn, Mark Hutton and Allen Schmidt — all former members of the Kansas Legislature. Their terms expired in June. Feuerborn had been appointed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, while Hutton and Schmidt were put on the board by GOP Gov. Jeff Colyer.
Dicus, who has worked at Capitol Federal Savings for 37 years, serves as chairman, chief executive officer and president of the bank. Dicus received bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in business at the University of Kansas.
He’s a trustee of the Washburn University Foundation and an executive committee trustee of the KU Endowment Association. In 2012, the Capitol Federal Foundation committed $20 million toward construction of the School of Business building at KU.
Mendoza, director of diversity and English programs in Dodge City schools, has worked in public education for more than 20 years. In her current job, she works with teachers to improve delivery of instruction to a diverse student population.
She earned an associate’s degre at Dodge City Community College. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Kansas State University.
Benson, president of the Chamber of Commerce in Pittsburg, received a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Arkansas State University. In Pittsburg, he’s worked 16 years to further economic development in southeast Kansas. He’s on the Pittsburg Sate University Foundation board.
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