We’re in the last week of fall classes at the University of Kansas, and after finals next week, students will be heading home for break. As the semester ends, so too does a special year for our university.
This year saw KU’s 4,000 freshmen set records for talent and diversity as they joined our academic community. They’re ready to follow in the footsteps of fellow Jayhawks who in 2013 did everything from perform at Carnegie Hall to win an NCAA Track & Field Championship.
These students joined a university that once again pushed back the boundaries of knowledge. KU scholars made discoveries in fields as wide-ranging as the predatory nature of Tyrannosaurus rex, to the development of new treatments for osteoarthritis and the lessons of the Gettysburg Address on its 150th anniversary.
This year we also continued to enhance KU’s ability to fulfill its mission as Kansas’ flagship university. The Bold Aspirations strategic plan is helping us lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world, and we’re already seeing results.
Through the KU Core Curriculum, freshmen are for the first time pursuing university-wide general education requirements, which are designed to prepare them for successful lives and careers by incorporating classes and experiences. We’re also redesigning courses to maximize student learning through the smart application of technology.
And as part of our mission as a research university, we’re bringing together multidisciplinary teams to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as the growing need for fresh water. We’re also providing funding to spark new collaborations on topics as varied as the search for new medicines from native plants and interventions to stop bullying in schools.
All of these advances were on display when we met with legislative leaders in late October. Prior to their visit we answered more than 80 questions, and during roughly four hours of Q&A at the medical center and in Lawrence we had an opportunity to build relationships with these policymakers.
The state’s budget challenges will continue in 2014, which is why alumni support through Jayhawks for Higher Education will be vital as we seek to demonstrate the value of the university to the people of Kansas and advance KU’s policy priorities.
On behalf of our students, faculty and staff, thank you for all that you do to support the University of Kansas, and best wishes for a crimson and blue holiday season.