- Associated Press - Thursday, September 22, 2016

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little intends to step down next summer from her position leading the state’s largest university.

Gray-Little, who has served as chancellor since August 2009, said in a statement Thursday that with major initiatives at the university nearing completion, it will be an ideal time for her to leave the university’s top administrative job.

“With many critical initiatives either completed or nearing completion - including a $1.6 billion Far Above campaign and our transformational Central District project -now is an ideal time for the University of Kansas to identify a new chancellor to guide the next chapter in the university’s history,” Gray-Little said.

Announcing her departure several months in advance will help the university find a replacement without having to name an interim chancellor, she said. The university said it would announce plans for replacing her in the coming weeks.

Gray-Little, who the university’s first female chancellor and first black chancellor, was previously a top administrator at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, including as executive vice chancellor and provost.

“Chancellor Gray-Little has been a transformative figure for the University of Kansas and has ably guided the university during the past seven years,” said Zoe Newton, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents.

In addition to the Central District project, which includes an Integrated Science Building, student housing, a student union and infrastructure improvements, Gray-Little led a recent plan to create new admission procedures and four-year renewable scholarships, according to the university, which said it has had four straight years of freshman class growth.

She also supported the expansion of its University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita program from two years to four, as well as the creation of the new School of Medicine-Salina, both without additional state funding.

Gray-Little’s resignation comes as the university has faced recent sexual assault-related lawsuits, budget cuts and student protests over race and discrimination.

The university has a total budget of more than $740 million and about 24,700 students at the Lawrence campus. The university’s medical center, which has a budget of almost $360 million, has about 3,380 students, according to the university.

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