By now you know this is a special year for the University of Kansas, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of our founding. This milestone provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on our legacy of discovery, and how our scholarly activity has helped shape the world during the past century-and-a-half.
While we are proud of our history, we should be more proud of our efforts to build a better future, both for our university and society. As a flagship research university, KU has a special responsibility to make discoveries that improve lives, create prosperity, and help us better understand the world. This responsibility is borne by our community of scholars — faculty, staff and students — who seek out knowledge and then share it. Thanks to your efforts, we are fulfilling this obligation.
This semester, we continue our mission of discovery with six new Foundation Distinguished Professors, who bring tremendous expertise across a range of disciplines and strengthen our efforts to address society’s grand challenges. One of these new researchers is Cecilia Menjivar, an expert in Central American and immigrant studies. Dennis O'Rourke joins us as one of the world's top biological anthropologists, while historian Beth Bailey will continue her focus on U.S. military history, and gender and sexuality studies.
These new researchers join a university of scholars already doing outstanding work across the spectrum of academic disciplines. For example, in recent months, faculty and researchers have made discoveries related to the lingering social impact of Hurricane Katrina, a possible link between heart and kidney disease, the North American carbon cycle, and numerous other topics that impact our world and society.
In addition to addressing societal challenges and helping us better understand the world, KU discoveries are resulting in new technologies and driving prosperity. In June, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities named KU to its 2015 class of Innovation & Economic Prosperity Universities, a prestigious distinction for universities that have excelled in regional economic development. In July, we learned that KU ranked 79th globally last year among universities receiving U.S. utility patents — marking our first time in the top 100. And just last month, for the fourth time in six years, our School of Pharmacy was ranked No. 2 nationally in National Institutes of Health funding.
University of Kansas researchers have made remarkable discoveries over the past 150 years and, in the process, built the foundation upon which we all stand today. Thanks to your research and scholarship, we are continuing what they started — and improving the world along the way.