OLATHE — Ralph C. Richardson has announced plans to retire as the dean and CEO of Kansas State University’s Olathe campus before July 1. He has served in the position since August 2015.
“I certainly have mixed emotions about retiring, as I’ve never enjoyed my work more and am proud of what has been achieved at the Olathe campus in the last several years,” Richardson said. “President Myers and Provost Taber are leading K-State forward in unprecedented ways. I love being part of their team and working with faculty and staff, my fellow deans and other university administrators. However, it is imperative to focus on succession planning, especially with the new budget model and strategic enrollment management initiatives coming on board. I want the new leader of the Olathe campus to be well prepared to embrace the opportunities that are coming to K-State through engagement with Greater Kansas City.”
Under Richardson’s leadership, Kansas State University used the Olathe campus to expand its outreach and services to Greater Kansas City to elevate the university’s profile in academics, research and service in the region and generate new opportunities for students and faculty.
Richardson helped establish and oversee numerous partnerships that are being used to develop a recruitment and support infrastructure for Kansas City-based undergraduate students to attend Kansas State University and working professionals to enroll at the university’s Olathe campus.
A proponent of student engagement, Richardson emphasized outreach to the numerous K-12 school districts in Johnson and Wyandotte counties in the form of science-related activities that fostered students’ interest as a way to encourage them to pursue an advanced education and a career in high-demand fields.
In partnership with university departments and colleges, several academic programs were added to the campus’s offerings that address workforce demand in the region. Programs include the master’s degree in school counseling, doctorate in counselor education and supervision, and the professional science master’s degree and certificates.
Similarly, Richardson focused on increasing engagement and collaboration with industry partners to create new opportunities in research and education for working adults, graduate students and faculty. Several businesses and organizations established presences at the campus, including Ceva Animal Health, Maxxam Analytics, the American Association for Industry Veterinarians and Digital Sandbox KC — a program through the city of Olathe that provides funding and resources for entrepreneurs.
Richardson also served in active roles on the Agribusiness Council of Kansas City and the Olathe and Greater Kansas City chambers of commerce.
“Ralph leaves a distinguished footprint at K-State through his leadership not only as dean and CEO of the Olathe campus, but also in his previous role as dean of the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine,” said Richard Myers, Kansas State University president. “Ralph has played an active role in moving K-State forward in times of great change for both veterinary medicine and higher education. Through his leadership and passion for helping others, Ralph advanced numerous research opportunities at K-State while providing students with an exceptional education and experiences that will benefit them throughout their lives. He was also a visionary in exploring new initiatives for K-State to be engaged in the Greater Kansas City community.
Before his appointment overseeing the Olathe campus, Richardson served as dean of the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine for nearly 20 years. Under his guidance, the college experienced increased student enrollment; raised more than $72 million in private support for scholarships and seven permanently endowed professorships; introduced the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas, which offers a debt repayment incentive for graduates to work in rural practices in Kansas; increased faculty and staff numbers, with many receiving national and international attention for their teaching, research and service efforts; aligned research and educational programs to meet the needs of the federal government’s National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, which is being built just north of the college; and much more.
Richardson joined Kansas State University in 1998, coming from Purdue University where he was a professor and head of the veterinary clinical sciences department and a 22-year faculty member of the university. At Purdue, he helped establish an ongoing comparative oncology program, utilizing naturally occurring cancer in pet animals as models for people. Before starting his academic career, Richardson served in the Army Veterinary Corps and worked as a private practice veterinarian in Miami. Richardson is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in the specialty of internal medicine and a charter diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine’s specialty of oncology.
He received his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1969 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1970. He also completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Purdue in 1973, a residency in small animal internal medicine at the University of Missouri in 1975, and a training program in clinical oncology at the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1978.
A search for a replacement dean and CEO of the Olathe campus will begin in the near future.