This is one of my favorite times of the year. There’s a certain energy that comes from having thousands of talented students, faculty and staff back on our campuses. Of course, this past summer was not without its own excitement.
We achieved National Cancer Institute designation for The University of Kansas Cancer Center, which will deliver tremendous benefits to patients. We met with the Jayhawk Nation, as the KU Alumni Association held 120 events nationwide. And Diamond Dixon became the first female KU track and field student-athlete to win Olympic gold.
Now we’re at the beginning of a new year in which we will build upon the progress we’ve made in ensuring KU is recognized as a top-tier public international research university. I had the pleasure of welcoming 49 new faculty members to the Lawrence Campus last week. They and their 92 new medical center colleagues are all eager to join us in achieving our shared aspirations, and I know you’ll help them feel welcome.
We also are welcoming thousands of new students to our academic community. At Convocation last night, I spoke to them about how communities shape our identities. We may all come to KU with different backgrounds, histories and world views. But we all share a desire to learn and a desire to use what we learn to make the world a better place.
These new Jayhawks will take part in the range of experiences designed to make them feel a part of our community so that their first year at KU will be successful. For example, first-year seminars will help make the university seem smaller and create connections with faculty and fellow students that are important to creating a sense of belonging.
Our emphasis on helping students persist and be successful is part of Bold Aspirations, which continues to transform the way we teach, conduct research and serve society. This year we will be filling out the KU Core with specific courses and experiences. The first seed grants for new multidisciplinary research projects will be announced next week. And we’ll begin recruiting for 64 new faculty positions, including 12 Foundation Professors, next month.
These and many other initiatives will strengthen our ability to deliver on KU’s mission: lifting students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. That noble mission is what defines our community, and it is what drives us to achieve the aspirations we each have for our university.
I’m proud to once again welcome the newest Jayhawks to our academic community, and to wish all of you a successful start to the academic year.