I believe that public research universities play a special role in our society. In addition to educating students and making discoveries, we address society’s most complicated challenges on behalf of the public good. At the University of Kansas, this is reflected in our mission to strengthen communities in areas where our expertise can make a difference, both in Kansas and beyond.
One example is our School of Nursing’s new partnership with Kansas community colleges that enables students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree without leaving their home communities. Through this model, students simultaneously pursue an associate’s degree in nursing from their local Kansas community college while pursuing a BSN from KU through online coursework. This enables us to educate more nurses for Kansas communities.
Our Center for Interprofessional Education and Simulation is also doing great work to strengthen communities. Through this center, KU students training to become doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals collaborate on cases and simulations to arrive at the best possible health care decisions. These students work with students of law and social work, and in rural and urban clinical settings, resulting in a truly interdisciplinary approach that enhances their education. Best of all, when these interdisciplinary techniques are eventually applied in a clinical setting, patients receive better care.
These are just two of the many efforts across our university involving students, faculty and staff working together to build healthy communities. We interpret this portion of our mission broadly, expanding beyond physical health to include economic vitality and the enrichment of people’s lives through the arts and humanities.
For example, we train law enforcement officers for Kansas communities through our Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. Our School of Business’ RedTire program matches graduates with retiring Kansas business owners so businesses can remain in Kansas communities. The Bioscience & Technology Business Center is home to more than 30 companies, which create new jobs for our region. Our School of Music uses technology to provide piano lessons for rural elementary students. And through our Spencer Museum of Art, we provide cultural and artistic experiences to help visitors better understand themselves and communities throughout the world.
In addition to improving communities across the state and world, it is also crucial that we continue to improve our University of Kansas community. This is evident in your efforts to address complicated topics like sexual assault, mental health, and diversity and inclusion on our campuses. You should be proud that these efforts are improving our university for your classmates and colleagues, and perhaps more importantly, for future Jayhawks.
I’ve spoken frequently in recent months about the ongoing transformation of our university. Your efforts to build healthy communities and work on behalf of the public good have been crucial to this transformation. Thank you for your work, and for enabling us to fulfill our mission as a public research university.