Leadership Team and Staff Changes in the Provost Office

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
Thursday, June 17, 2021, 4:07 p.m.
KU Lawrence staff, faculty and affiliates

Dear Staff and Faculty,

I’m pleased to share with you a small number of leadership and organizational changes to address openings resulting from announced retirements and additional transitions.

Jen Roberts, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, will become the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies. Jen has been a member of the KU faculty since 2001, initially joining as an assistant professor in the Department of Geology. Her new role will be a full-time position for a tenured faculty member. She will continue to oversee Graduate Studies and will also add oversight of International Affairs as well as KU’s ROTC military programs. She will serve as the Provost’s primary liaison to Student Affairs, Academic Success and Enrollment Management. Through her expanded role, Jen also will provide strategic direction and leadership in a variety of assessment activities including documenting student learning in academic programs, academic portfolio development, curricular innovation, academic strategic direction and other accreditation related activities.

This increased responsibility is possible through a move by Professor Holly Storkel to step away from her quarter-time appointment as Vice Provost for Assessment and Program Development to focus on research activities. She is also completing a term as Editor-in-Chief of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools.

On the Edwards Campus, Sharon Graham, Vice Provost for Lifelong and Professional Education has announced her intention to retire in August. Sharon is a long-time KU leader who has spent the past seven years leading Lifelong and Professional Education (LPE). She also has considerable experience guiding students in the Self Graduate Fellowship Program and, before then, in KU Continuing Education, the precursor of LPE. Sharon oversaw the expansion of the unit’s offices to the Edwards Campus in Overland Park. Her role also includes oversight of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center and the Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute.

Emily Zentner, Director of Business Services for LPE and Associate Director of Fiscal Services for the Edwards Campus, has agreed to serve as the interim Vice Provost of LPE beginning August 20. She has held a number of fiscal management roles in LPE since first joining the university as business manager for the KU Aerospace Short Course Program in 2008.

Inside the Provost Office Suite, Chief of Staff Linda Luckey, after 25 years in various leadership roles at the university, has announced she will retire in September. Linda has been an important part of my transition to KU, during an exceptionally challenging period for all of us, and she has skillfully served several provosts and College deans. She leaves a great legacy for KU as the founding director for the Center for Service Learning and through her service to women leaders at the institution.

I’ve asked Provost Office Communications Manager and Director of Internal Communications Jill Hummels to expand her responsibilities to include the Chief of Staff role upon Linda’s retirement. Jill is in her 21st year with the university and she has considerable experience on a number of working groups and committees. Before she joined the Provost Office in 2015, she worked with students, staff, faculty, administrators and alumni in the School of Engineering.

My Executive Associate Faunia Tuma will take on additional organizational functions in our office that for the past year and a half have been cultivated and coordinated by Provost Office Operations Manager and new Master’s of Public Administration graduate Collin Cox. We wish Collin all the best as he pursues a doctorate in higher education at Florida State University.

I’m excited about the skills and talents our refreshed team possesses, and I have both high hopes and high expectations for them and for what they can do for our institution. They have a big challenge ahead of them – personally, professionally and in service to the university community. Over the past year, I know I’ve asked much of units and offices all across campus, and I’ve asked the same of the Provost Office. With various cost-savings measures we introduced and through leveraging other changes, the Provost Office has seen a 20 percent staffing reduction this year. It continues a trend over the last five years, and our team is now 30 percent smaller than it was in 2016.

This reduction in staffing doesn’t mean there’s less to do, that the work is less important, or that we are less dedicated to doing it right. It does mean we are working to reduce the load through proactive efforts and better use of established roles and responsibilities.

Our strategic plan Jayhawks Rising actively aligns our resources, activities and expertise. I hope you will call upon our Provost Office team members in their new roles – introduce yourself if you haven’t yet met them – and work alongside them as we all strive to elevate our institution in the months and years ahead.

Equally important, please join me in thanking Sharon Graham, Linda Luckey, Holly Storkel, and Collin Cox for their service, contributions and commitment. We owe them our appreciation for a job well done.



Barbara A. Bichelmeyer

Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor