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Discovery Center director resigns

By The Mercury

Bob Workman resigned from his position as director of the Flint Hills Discovery Center, according to a press release Wednesday afternoon from City Manager Ron Fehr.

Workman is leaving for a job as director of the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University. He plans to stay on through mid-January to assist with a national search for his replacement.

“Bob has done a terrific job in bringing this project through a very successful construction process as well as assembling and leading an incredible team that has successfully realized the Flint Hills Discovery Center,” Fehr said in the release. “He has nurtured numerous relationships throughout the region establishing the Discovery Center as a place maker and portal to the Flint Hills all while laying a very thoughtful and solid foundation for our long-term success. His leadership will be greatly missed and we wish him the very best.”

Workman was raised in Wichita, and he began his career at the Ulrich Museum in 1978. Since then, his career experience has mostly been in art institutions on the East Coast and in Texas.

Workman came to Manhattan from Bentonville, Ark., where he oversaw the creation of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the 100,000-square-foot project of Walmart heiress Alice Walton. He resigned as executive director in January 2009.

“I am honored to have played a key role in making the Flint Hills Discovery Center the important regional and national center that it is rapidly becoming,” Workman said in the release.

Liz Workman, Bob’s wife, is the executive director of the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation.

She said Wednesday that she will stay in her position until a successor is named and a smooth transition has been made. That could mean she’ll be here longer than Bob but will eventually join him in Wichita.

Liz Workman said she had notified the foundation’s board and that a search for her replacement was beginning.

Liz Workman has been in charge of the community foundation since May, 2010. She is originally from Wichita; her mother still lives there.

During its first six months of operation, the Flint Hills Discovery Center has exceeded its 2012 attendance and revenue goals, with the busy holiday season yet to occur. As of Oct. 31, almost 47,000 people have paid admission to the Discovery Center, and another 7,100 have attended special events and programs. Revenues have already exceeded the year’s projected expenses.

Curt Loupe, director of parks and recreation, will lead the transition. “We had the right person at the right time with Bob, and I am confident his hard work will be noticed by prospective candidates nationally.”

A national search will commence shortly, with an anticipated start date for the new director within the first quarter of 2013.

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