The start of the fall semester is always exciting at the University of Kansas. A sense of renewal comes from seeing thousands of students returning to our campuses, and it makes me proud to think about the great work we’ll do as a community of scholars during the coming year.
This year is especially exciting because of the transformation that continues at KU. This includes the physical transformation to campus that is readily apparent to all of us — particularly our Central District redevelopment, a once-in-a-generation project that will fundamentally change the face of education and research at KU. Of course, this transformation goes deeper than buildings.
For example, the transformation is apparent in our mission to educate leaders. We have enjoyed four straight years of freshmen class growth thanks largely to improvements in enrollment management, marketing and related areas. Additionally, faculty and staff like you have worked hard to overhaul the curriculum and experiences we offer students so they can transform themselves during their time at KU.
The transformation of KU is apparent in our mission to build healthy communities. Our expanded School of Medicine campuses in Wichita and Salina are allowing us to train more doctors for Kansas. The construction of our new Health Education Building in Kansas City and our School of Nursing’s partnership with Kansas community colleges will further help us.
The transformation is also apparent in the way we make discoveries that change the world. Last spring, we completed our Foundation Distinguished Professor initiative, which brought 12 outstanding new faculty to the university. They join a community of scholars already doing tremendous work developing new cures, technologies and new ways of understanding society and the human condition.
On June 30, we closed our Far Above campaign, which has raised nearly $1.66 billion through KU Endowment to fund scholarships, facilities, faculty support and other areas. This astounding effort has forever changed KU, and it illustrates how deeply our friends and donors believe in your work and our transformation.
The upcoming year will have its challenges. In May, Governor Brownback reduced our budget by $10.7 million, which has forced us to make difficult choices regarding the current fiscal year budget. But the coming year also presents opportunities to continue our progress in many areas, including student success. I also expect us to continue our conversations about diversity and inclusion, and you can expect to learn about next steps related to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion advisory group report later this semester.
Today is the first day of class, and we should all be looking ahead to the coming year. But take a moment to look back on the tremendous progress we’ve made in recent years. Be proud of your role in transforming the university, and know that KU is strong, thanks to you.
University of Kansas