State of the University of Kansas 2012

State of the University of Kansas 2012

October 13, 2019 4 By Stanley Isaacs


Educating leaders. Building healthy communities. Making discoveries that
change the world. That’s our mission as the state’s flagship
university. Today, I’d like to show you how KU is
fulfilling that mission. With a comprehensive strategic plan, we’re charting a deliberate path toward being a top-tier public, research university. There are challenges we face, including a
declining number of Kansas high school graduates, too many students who don’t succeed in
their first year, and too many students who don’t earn
degrees. Our research productivity, while growing,
also lags behind other top universities. At KU we are proud
of our membership in the prestigious Association
of American Universities, one of only five in Kansas and its
surrounding states. But we aim higher than just being in the AAU. we want to be a model AAU member. To do that, we must compare ourselves against noted peers like Indiana, Colorado and Iowa. We must make the changes that our
peers will want to emulate. Those changes are under way now, putting the university on a bold path to
greater success. To educate leaders, like the students who take classes here
in our School of Education, a university must have great
professors and great academic programs. We have extraordinary faculty — like Val Stella, honored nationally for his pharmacy
research. Robin Rowland, named a Distinguished
Rhetorical Scholar by the National Communication Association. Judy Wu, a leader in nanomaterials
research, whose undergraduate research assistant, Logan Wille, earned a Goldwater
Scholarship for the study of supercapacitors. And nine faculty Fulbright scholars. The second most of any university
in the nation. Such professors are the bedrock of a strong
multidisciplinary university. They enable us to offer more majors than
any other Kansas school. And have more nationally ranked graduate
programs than all other schools in the state
combined. They also mentor students like Kelsey Murrell, KU’s 26th Rhodes
Scholar. We are building on our academic
strengths to address the state’s key challenges and meet vital workforce
needs. We expanded our School of Medicine here
in Wichita to a four-year program. And launched a new pharmacy program that links
with the program in Lawrence. We opened a new School of Medicine in Salina to train physicians for rural
communities. We are expanding the School
of Engineering, thanks to support from state, federal and industry leaders. And with support from Johnson County
residents, we’re expanding the Edwards campus so
the Kansas City area will have access to 10 new academic programs. This will boost the Kansas economy by
ensuring that employers can create jobs and fill them with qualified people. To that end, we are enhancing our
recruitment of top students in and out of Kansas and offering new four-year
renewable scholarships. We are committed to helping more students succeed and
graduate on time, such as through an early intervention
program for students who fall behind. And we’re revising the core curriculum so every graduate has the knowledge and skills to succeed in their careers and their lives. The word health may bring to mind
research in cancer, obesity, or autism, all of which are KU’s strengths. But a healthy community
encompasses more. It includes sustainability, as
exemplified here at the new Center for Design Research built by KU
architecture students. It includes education in the arts and humanities. And KU strengthens community health
by creating jobs through the largest business incubator network in the state. As well as by launching a biorefining
initiative, led by Bala Subramaniam, that could create sustainable prosperity
in rural Kansas by tapping into a multi-billion dollar biochemical market. Our communities are also strengthened by
KU projects that aid low-income schools and job-training programs. By Amanda Reichard, who researches how
preventative medicine can improve the state’s Medicaid program. And by Raj Bhala, who helps Army
officers at Fort Leavenworth understand Islamic law and culture. The great wealth of knowledge and
expertise possessed by our faculty, staff and students benefits Kansans. So our strategic plan calls for bringing
together top scholars from across disciplines. With the support of policy makers we
will recruit acclaimed faculty who are members of national academies to serve as foundation professors. And together, we’ll work with communities
across Kansas to chart a bright, prosperous future. Here at KU Medical Center, we just applied for National Cancer
Institute designation that would reap benefits for KU and for patients. Just the effort to reach this point brought new treatments to patients through an
alliance with regional hospitals. And new clinical trials — such as the
trial Scott Weir and the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation
are conducting on a treatment for adult leukemia. But this is just a part of the research,
scholarship and creative work that occurs in every field of study
at KU. We’re studying spinning electrons, receding glaciers and school bullying. We’re preserving the Cherokee language and helping foster children graduate
high school. Donna Ginther’s work revealed racial
disparities in NIH grant funding. And Muriel Saunders showed that iPads
can help visually impaired children. These types of discoveries benefit our
society as well as the undergraduate and graduate students who get to work with
leading scholars. Our strategic plan will enhance research
by reducing barriers, increasing incentives and providing new
opportunities for doctoral students. It will raise scholarly engagement in
all departments through faculty mentorship and post-tenure review. Again comparisons with the nation’s
leading research universities will serve as our measuring stick, and
drive our aspirations. KU’s path forward is charted by our strategic plan it is supported by “Changing for
Excellence,” an initiative to make KU more efficient with our resources. And by our comprehensive campaign. Our aspirations are indeed bold. For instance, we seek to increase our
first-year retention rate to 90 percent. We want a six-year graduation rate
of 70 percent. And we aim to grow our research funding
by nearly 40 percent. All of our goals are available for you
to review at boldaspirations.ku.edu. We will hold ourselves accountable by
closely tracking our progress, and by comparing ourselves to other
leading research universities. Because our aspirations are bold,
KU needs your support and advocacy to achieve them. It is an honor to work with talented faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and friends who all believe in KU’s mission. Together, we are building a truly great flagship university.