Wichita State spent roughly $129,000 on presidential search


Joseph Barringhaus

Morrison Hall on Wichita State University’s main campus.

Wichita State spent roughly $129,000 on the presidential search that ultimately led to the hire of now-President Jay Golden. That’s $34,000 more than the baseline $95,000 the search was estimated to cost.

According to the original contract between Wheless Partners and WSU, the university would spend roughly $95,000 on the search, including an $80,000 “professional fee” charged by Wheless. 

The next largest expenditure behind the professional fee was $17,929.27 spent on candidate interviews. Seven candidates were selected for interviews with the search committee and all were reimbursed for any expenses during the process. However, earlier last year, WSU’s presidential search chair, Steve Clark, said the interviews would be conducted via Skype.

Kansas Board of Regents Director of Communications Matt Keith said in an email that “three to five” candidates were interviewed by the regents.

Receipts were not provided for candidate reimbursements in the overall records request that was sent to The Sunflower. However, receipts were provided for other expenses that were incurred during the search process.

“I confirmed that we provided all receipts in our possession,” General Counsel Stacia Boden said in an email when questioned why the receipts were not provided and if they ever would be.

Candidate interviews were held at the Marriott Hotel at the Kansas City Airport in October.

In an invoice provided to The Sunflower, candidates were identified as “Candidate B,” “Candidate Ca,” “Candidate A,” “Candidate G,” “Candidate M,” “Candidate W,” “Candidate K.”

Candidate G was reimbursed for expenses totaling $5,042.18. Other candidates were reimbursed for around $1,000.

Neither the general counsel’s office nor the Kansas Board of Regents would confirm whether or not Candidate G was Golden.

“We can’t provide details about the identities of any candidates since the search was closed,” Keith said in an email to The Sunflower.

The university also paid for travel expenses for Wheless Search Senior Consultants Michael Wheless and Michael Ballew between June and November, when the search began and ended. Their reimbursed travel costs totaled $9,003.63.

WSU was also charged a $7,500 launch fee when the contract was signed.

According to Keith, the funds for the presidential search came from the university’s general use fund. Funds for that account come from student tuition.

Wheless Partners also assisted in the presidential search for Fort Hays State University that ultimately hired Tisa Mason for the position in 2017. According to the contract between FHSU and Wheless Partners, Fort Hays paid a $70,000 professional fee, along with an additional $40,000 in expenses.