As our students were completing their finals last month, I was meeting with the Board of Regents to share the aspirations we have set for ourselves as a university, as well as outlining how we will achieve them.
Our aspirations are central to our drive for excellence and must be reached if we are to earn recognition as a top-tier public international research university. As such, we are measuring ourselves against aspirational peers like Indiana, Iowa and Colorado, and have set goals that epitomize the name of our strategic plan, Bold Aspirations.
For example, over the next decade we aspire to reach a first-year retention rate of 90 percent, up from the current 79 percent. We seek to graduate 70 percent of our students within six years, up from 61 percent today. And we intend to raise the national stature of our academic programs and reduce the amount of time it takes our doctoral students to earn their degrees.
In addition to these changes that go to the heart of our mission of educating leaders, we also have aspirations to grow the benefits KU provides to Kansans. Speeding discoveries to patients and the marketplace and fostering entrepreneurship are just two examples of how our range of research, scholarly and creative work benefits the world.
And central to our role as a research university, we have set high goals for our research and scholarship. This includes not only increasing the amount of sponsored research at KU, but also doubling the number of faculty who are honored by their international peers and increasing the number who are members of national academies.
Like the university-wide effort that went into creating our strategic plan, it will take a broad base of support inside and outside the university to achieve our goals.
At the same meeting in December, the Board of Regents voted unanimously to ask the university to propose new admission standards. Unlike current standards, these would apply only to KU.
One goal of new admission standards would be to give students and families an accurate picture of what it takes to succeed and graduate from KU. Such a change would also enable us to better recruit student scholars who are ready to take part in all the opportunities we have to offer as the state’s flagship institution.
We are in the process of exploring what standards would best meet these goals. As part of this effort we are seeking opinions from members of the KU community, as well as students, families, educators and leaders around the state, regarding what changes would best ensure the success of future KU students.
I hope you had an enjoyable and rewarding winter break and have returned ready to continue our climb toward excellence in all that we do as a university and as a community of scholars.