MANHATTAN — Two positions key to the success of Kansas State University’s strategic enrollment management efforts will be filled by experienced administrators on an interim basis while national searches are conducted.
Charles Taber, provost and executive vice president, has announced the appointments of Emily Lehning as interim vice provost for enrollment management and Mary Hale Tolar as interim vice provost for student success. Both Lehning and Tolar will begin their new jobs June 30 and report to Taber.
“These previously announced positions are key to the university’s strategic enrollment management, or SEM, structure,” Taber said. “Both Drs. Lehning and Tolar have indicated they will not be candidates for the permanent positions. I want to thank them for their willingness to provide the leadership, stability and the balance needed in a time of major transition while we complete the national searches now underway for both the vice provost for enrollment management and vice provost for student success.”
As interim vice provost for enrollment management, Lehning will provide leadership to K-State’s enrollment management units particularly focused on the student recruitment, admissions, financial aid and registrar areas. For a list of the units under the vice provost for enrollment management, go to k-state.edu/2025/initiatives/sem/structure/index.html.
Lehning, who currently serves as associate vice president for student life and director of New Student Services, has been involved with the recruitment of high school and transfer students to K-State since becoming assistant director of New Student Services in 2001. She was promoted to assistant dean for student life and coordinator of New Student Services in 2005, became assistant vice president for student life and director of New Student Services in 2008 and was named associate vice president for student life and director of New Student Services in 2015.
Lehning has been involved with several key student retention and success programs and initiatives, including freshman and transfer enrollment and outreach, which have helped K-State retain its status as the No. 1 choice of Kansas high school seniors; the creation and leadership of K-State First, the university’s first-year student experience program; securing funding to create Wildcat Warm-up, the extended orientation program; and serving as project lead on the $20 million renovation of the historic East Memorial Stadium into the Berney Family Welcome Center, which houses the Career Center and New Student Services. She also helped secure funding for the university’s CliftonStrengths program and the K-State Challenge Course. As New Student Services director, Lehning supervises staff of K-State’s campus visits program and orientation and enrollment program, All-University Open House and other major campus recruitment events.
In her role as interim vice provost for student success, Tolar, the director of the Staley School of Leadership Studies, will provide leadership in the student retention, success and progression areas of SEM. This will include working with the university’s advising community and advancing the Student Success Collaboration Initiatives. For a list of units under the vice provost for student success, go to k-state.edu/2025/initiatives/sem/structure/index.html.
Tolar joined K-State in 2006 as associate director of the School of Leadership Studies, leading community service, service learning, nonprofit leadership and student engagement efforts on campus. She also directed the Coffman Leadership Institute. She was promoted to director, after serving as interim director, of the Staley School in 2009 and earned tenure and promotion to associate professor in 2014. Tolar’s accomplishments as the school’s director include completing the privately funded $11 million construction of the Leadership Studies Building; raising more than $11.3 million for the school as part of the Innovation & Inspiration Campaign for K-State, exceeding the initial goal of $3 million; establishing a $2.5 million endowed chair; and helping the school be a host site for the Mandela Washington Fellows program through the U.S. Department of State. In addition, Tolar has served as one of four scholars nationally to develop and launch The New York Times in Leadership online education resource since 2012.
A 1988 Truman scholar and 1990 Rhodes scholar from K-State, Tolar has served as deputy secretary/chief of staff of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and as executive director of the Kansas Campus Compact. She also served as assistant director, academic grants and awards, at Willamette University; development officer at the University of Michigan, Dearborn; and assistant to the dean of arts and sciences and director of study abroad at the University of Tulsa.