As our semester comes to a close, I want to take a moment to reflect on our recent achievements, as well as our efforts to improve the student experience, serve Kansas communities, and grow our research enterprise. Thanks to you, we continue to fulfill our mission and move the University of Kansas forward.
The student experience
This semester, we continued to enhance the undergraduate experience by expanding experiential learning opportunities such as internships, research, service learning, and study abroad. In Lawrence, we created Campus Cupboard food pantry and supported students through the Jayhawk Student One Stop. KU Alumni Association launched the KU Alumni Mentoring network to connect students with alumni, and we created the Sorority and Fraternity Life Task Force to address challenges in the Greek community. At KU Medical Center, we completed the first year of our ACE Curriculum, a modernized approach to training the next generation of physicians.
While we worked to improve the student experience, our students continued to dazzle us with their achievements. This semester, Kathryn Ammon became our first Mitchell Scholarship winner, while Constanza Castro Zúñiga became our first Charles B. Rangel Fellow. Senior football player Joe Dineen Jr. is a finalist for the national Senior CLASS Award and a semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy for excellence off the field. Nursing doctoral students Megan Campbell, Amenda Fisher, Marcy Holford and Amanda Huerta were named Jonas Scholars, while graduate students Angelo Andres and Sierra Watt each won prestigious fellowships for their work.
Meanwhile, the pipeline of talented students coming to KU remains strong. This semester, enrollment grew for the fifth straight year, and we set all-time highs in retention and graduation. Moreover, the freshman class grew for the sixth time in seven years and is our most talented class ever. To increase in both size and quality is a tremendous accomplishment and a clear indication that our strategies regarding student recruitment and enrollment are paying off.
Outreach to Kansas
This semester, we continued to strengthen Kansas communities. In November, we formally dedicated our Leavenworth location, which enhances our ability to serve local military and civilian students. The Edwards Campus saw a 12.5 percent student credit hour increase, reflecting our efforts to address Kansas workforce needs. Incoming students at the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions volunteered nearly 1,300 hours on their community service days in Kansas City, Kansas, Wichita and Salina.
This semester, KU scholars were recognized for excellence in research. In October, we announced Justin Douglas as this year’s Warren Research Achievement Award winner. We celebrated Raghunath Chaudhari and Maryemma Graham as recipients of the Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Award. Christophe Royon was chosen to receive the Humboldt Research Award, the highest scientific award given by the German government. Thomas Cravens and Candan Tamerler were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Mark Shiflett was named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
Additionally, our scholars shared their expertise with the broader public. In recent months, national media covered KU researchers’ efforts to help NASA uncover what lies beneath Greenland’s ice, to address food deserts, and to improve outcomes for children in foster care. Meanwhile, Patrick Miller in our political science department appeared in dozens of national stories helping readers make sense of election season.
Conversations, transformations and opportunities
We continued the physical transformation of our university. In August, students moved into the new Stouffer Place Apartments and began utilizing the new Burge Union and the Integrated Science Building. Meanwhile, the Schools of Medicine and Nursing in Salina moved into the Health Education Center.
Certainly, our progress comes with challenges. In May, we announced Lawrence campus budget adjustments and a strategy to address them. This required tough decisions and will continue to require proactive efforts as we build a new budget model — but this process enables us to achieve a quick recovery and build a sustainable budget by next fiscal year.
None of this success would be possible without our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and friends. Your work enhances our university each day, and I am grateful that you are part of our community of scholars.
Thank you for your efforts. May your holiday season be joyful and bright.
Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas