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Droge ready to return to Kansas as president of FHSU

4/7/2014

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

He called the opportunity to come to Fort Hays State University and "stay in Kansas a great match."

That's part of the reason Michael Droge, who grew up in Kansas and serves as president of Park University in Parkville, Mo., thinks it's time to lead another institution — this time in his home state.

Droge, 62, is the fourth of five finalists for the presidency for Fort Hays State University and the only candidate thus far with presidential experience. Current FHSU President Edward Hammond is stepping down this summer after 27 years at the post.

After a full day of meeting with numerous campus groups, Droge spoke at a meet-and-greet reception in Dreiling Lobby of FHSU's Sheridan Hall.

Droge grew up on farm near Leawood and stayed close to home for college, attending the University of Kansas before studying in Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship. He went on to earn a master's degree from Texas Tech University and his doctorate in physiology and biophysics from the University of Texas.

After teaching in the biology department at Texas Women's University for nearly 20 years, Droge was promoted to dean of graduate studies and research there when he was summoned back home.

"(Park's president) knew I grew up on a farm south of Kansas City, so that would be like going home," he said.

At Park, he served as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs from 2002 to 2009 when he assumed duties of interim president when the president retired. He was named president soon afterward.

While Droge called his time in Parkville "a great experience, a great school" and that Park is "hitting on all fronts," he said "for some time now, I thought I really would like to look toward leading another institution."

"The opportunity to stay in Kansas; my roots are in Kansas, rural Kansas," Droge continued. "It is such a great match for a number of reasons."

Droge and his wife, Molly, a pediatrician, will be in town through Tuesday, and a press conference in Dreiling Lobby is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.