Dave Cook

Provost candidate Dave Cook, who is the current vice chancellor for the KU Edwards campus, discusses his vision for the University in his presentation at the Burge Union Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The vice chancellor for the University of Kansas’ Edwards campus said he would focus on teamwork and collaboration in his pitch to be the next provost Wednesday evening in the Burge Union. 

Dave Cook, the finalist, has been at the University since 1998 at its various locations — the Lawrence campus, the Edwards campus and the KU Medical Center. He earned two of his degrees from the University. One of his children is a student at the University, he said.

“I want to be a provost. I think stability is critical, and I think we need it now more than ever,” Cook said. “I have a deep respect for the University.”

With cuts coming to higher education funding across the United States, Cook said it’s a good time for the University to embrace its strategic mission. 

“We need to celebrate our successes. We need to figure out how to get excited again about what we do,” Cook said. “There’s a lot of great things happening here.” 

Cook pointed to the visioning day coming up Friday as an opportunity for the University to get excited and dream, he said. Cook, as the vice chancellor for the Edwards campus, sat in all the meetings on Bold Aspirations, the University’s last strategic plan.

“Let’s think about why we exist, who we are and who we want to be,” Cook said. 

The University should also prioritize its students’ needs, Cook said. He pointed to focusing on more resources to address students’ mental health needs and said the social mobility of students is another area that needs improvement. 

Cook also mentioned that allocating more resources toward research at the University would be one of his focuses. Research resonates with students, he said. 

“Investing more in research has just got to be a priority,” Cook said. “It’s a mission that affects all of us.” 

Susan Twombly, a professor in the School of Education, asked how Cook will get the funding for his ideas. 

Cook said with the new budget model, there’s an opportunity to align it with the University’s strategic priorities. 

“So part of the answer is aligning our priorities with the budget, and so, I think we’re backward on that, but I think we can get back on track with that,” Cook said. “I don’t want to be too critical with that.”

As a whole, Cook said he intends to use collaboration and teamwork to help make decisions on the process. He wants to bring more people with knowledge to make the best decisions, he said. 

“I’m going to want to bring the best team possible,” Cook said. “I hope you hear me talking a lot about ‘we’ and not a lot about ‘I.’”