Fort Hays State University is pleased to announce the selection of Jill Arensdorf, current chair of the university’s Department of Leadership Studies, as its next provost and vice president for academic affairs. 

“I am excited for Dr. Arensdorf to take on the challenge of leading our academic enterprise during this pivotal time in our university’s history,” said President Tisa Mason. “Her roots are in western Kansas — Hill City — so she has a firm grasp on the value of this institution to the people we serve, in Kansas and across the globe. Jill is a rising executive in higher education and has earned respect across our campus for her thoughtful, detail-oriented and innovative leadership.”

Arensdorf expressed her thanks to all those involved in the provost search. 

“I want to thank the search committee and the university community for their participation in this process,” she said. “The time and energy that each of you shared not only with me, but with all candidates through the process was incredible. Thank you to President Mason and the entire university community for giving me this opportunity. I also thank my family for being incredibly supportive through this journey.” 

Arensdorf holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Kansas State University, a master’s degree in agricultural education and leadership from Texas A&M University, and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Kansas State. 

“Fort Hays State University is a phenomenal university that has given me and so many others opportunities to learn and grow,” Arensdorf said. “When I took an instructor position 17 years ago, I had no idea how much the university and community would impact me in such a positive way. I am so grateful and excited to serve as FHSU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs and look forward to working collaboratively with others to diligently and faithfully carry forward the mission of Fort Hays State University across the world.” 

Arensdorf’s research interests include youth leadership development, service-learning, civic engagement, program assessment and leadership behaviors. She has published numerous articles on the effects of service-learning on the development of youth leadership skills and the transfer of skills to the workplace.

She has been active in the civic engagement efforts at FHSU, as well as co-coordinating a learning community at FHSU, L3-Live. Learn. Lead. She recently served as president of the Association of Leadership Educators.

In the spring of 2012, she received the Pilot Award as the year’s outstanding faculty member. In the spring of 2005, she received the Navigator Award as the outstanding student advisor. She is actively involved in community leadership as an executive board member and a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ellis County and on the FHSU Foundation Board of Trustees. 

Later this summer, Arensdorf will replace Interim Provost Jeffrey Briggs, who has served in that role since 2017. 

“I am immensely grateful to Dr. Briggs,” Mason said. “His leadership has been essential to keeping this university moving forward through a period of dramatic change on our campus.” 

The search committee was led by Deborah Ludwig, dean of Forsyth Library. “In terms of the sheer effort and the collaborative, spirited discussion required by the search process, I was privileged to work with a phenomenal team of people,” Ludwig said.

The search committee included 16 people, appointed by Mason, with FHSU faculty from Hays and China, staff from all divisions, and a representative from the Student Government Association. The committee worked from January to early May to screen a pool of over 40 candidates, conduct intermediate online interviews, and to bring finalists to campus for three-day meetings with all constituents. 

Open forums were video recorded and an anonymous stakeholder survey was used to ensure a complete review of potential candidates. In addition to a final committee report, each individual committee member provided the president with an extensive personal report of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.