As a public university, the University of Kansas has a special responsibility to the people of our state who provide roughly a fifth of our budget. Part of our mission involves building healthy communities, which includes a wide range of ways our students, faculty and staff contribute to the health and vitality of Kansas.
One of the first things people think about when you mention KU is medicine and health care. That makes sense, as we’re home to the state’s only schools of medicine and pharmacy. Our schools of nursing and health professions provide the health professionals who are in demand statewide. And we conduct life-saving research on conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s and autism, to cancer and obesity.
KU graduates work in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies across the state. We educate the mental health professionals Kansans turn to for assistance, and the social workers who help people achieve their potential and live their lives with dignity.
All of this helps create healthier, happier communities. But the health of a community is measured by more than just the physical and mental health of its citizens. It’s also measured by the vitality of its arts scene, the strength of its economy and its commitment to sustainable prosperity. KU contributes to our communities in all of these areas and more.
Through a partnership between the Department of Theatre and the KU Alumni Association, audiences around Kansas can see a troupe of students perform in their communities. Musical Theatre for Kansas will travel to any town, says Professor John Staniunas, “All a community has to do is ask.”
Via collaborations with businesses and the creativity of faculty entrepreneurs, KU is creating jobs. But we’re also saving them. The School of Business has launched the RedTire program to match retiring business owners with graduates ready to own a business. Business owners get to pass on what they’ve built, graduates get a jump start on success and rural communities get to preserve businesses that are often the cornerstones of their towns.
And when it comes to putting research on environmental sustainability into practice, there are a range of places at KU you can turn to. Studio 804 just opened its latest efficient building, this one at Johnson County Community College. The School of Engineering’s new facility for interdisciplinary research on sustainability will be dedicated next month. And the Energy and Environment Center planned for the addition to Lindley Hall will bring together the next generation of geologists, engineers and environmental scientists.
All of these efforts, and countless others, contribute to the health of the people and communities we serve. They show how a university can lift both students and society. And they demonstrate the vital role we play as the state’s flagship research university.