In the news
I am honored to write you for the first time as the 18th chancellor of the University of Kansas. Susan and I greatly appreciate the expressions of support we’ve received in recent weeks, and I look forward to working with each of you on behalf of this great institution.
Chancellor Gray-Little delivered welcome remarks at the 2017 International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology conference in Lawrence.
During the past eight years, we have transformed the University of Kansas with 50 capital improvement projects totaling $700 million and launched a once-in-a-generation redevelopment of our Central District that will change the face of education and research at KU. But as I have said before, the transformation goes deeper than buildings and encompasses every aspect of our mission.
The James F. Patterson Land-Grant University Lecture brings a national leader to The Ohio State University to discuss the role of land-grant universities in an ever-changing world.
American public universities have played a special role ever since the first were chartered in the late 1700s. The founders understood that the United States would prosper only if it had strong universities that could educate the next generation of leaders and create the inventions and ideas that drive progress.
Chancellor Gray-Little visited the Kansas African American Museum in Wichita to discuss the unique challenges that women face in the workforce, particularly in the STEM fields.
With new leadership comes new ideas, and that has certainly been the case in Washington since January. Some of the ideas proposed by the new administration have caused concern at universities nationwide – including the University of Kansas – and I believe many of those concerns are valid. I want to assure you we continue to work with peer universities and our congressional delegation to be part of the policymaking process on issues affecting higher education.
Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to visit with the House Higher Education Budget Committee, which this year includes a number of first-year legislators. It was my second visit in three weeks with this group, and each time, I was heartened to meet with so many thoughtful lawmakers who care deeply about our state and our university.
Last Friday’s executive order suspending immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen has raised concerns for many members of the University of Kansas community. I share these concerns, and I want to assure you we are coordinating with our international programs staff, immigration experts, and peer universities to fully understand the implications of the new federal policies.
As has been the case for many years, the start of our spring semester coincides with Martin Luther King Day observances. I re-read my opening messages of the past few years, and I found myself almost wishing that Martin Luther King Day might eventually be “just another holiday” – but it is not yet. This year, more than any I can remember in more than 30 years, King’s call for equal justice and his aspiration to make true democracy a reality for our country are needed.
As our semester comes to a close, I want to take a moment to reflect on your achievements during the past few months and thank you for your efforts on behalf of our university.
I remain committed to working with policymakers, elected officials and university leaders nationwide to promote science, research and universities’ central role in driving new discoveries and technologies. At the same time, I call on all of you to continue doing what you do best — that is, making discoveries that improve lives, create prosperity, and help us better understand the world. This is our obligation as a community of scholars.
Thanksgiving is the time of year to reflect on the blessings in our lives and the things for which we are grateful. My hope for you is that these blessings include family, friends, health and the chance to wake up each day and live a meaningful life.
The Integrated Science Building takes center stage this Thursday when we host a “topping out” ceremony with the Central District development team and construction crew. The event will include a short program and conclude with the ceremonial “raising of the final beam” atop the building.
The mission of the University of Kansas is to educate leaders, build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world. Later this week, we have an opportunity to see all aspects of this mission on display in a special way.
The theme of this year’s conference – “Policy Implications Now and in the Future” – is especially intriguing to me. Just as we’re all living with decisions of our predecessors, policy decisions we make today can have enormous economic implications for future generations.
Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our University of Kansas community. With that in mind, I’d like to update you on our efforts to ensure KU is in compliance with state law allowing concealed weapons on university campuses beginning July 1, 2017.
As a university and a public institution, we must support the right of the members of our KU community to express their individually held beliefs. Free speech and free expression are core tenets of why universities are the center of debate, thought and discourse in our world.
I am delighted to announce this year’s freshman class has grown for the fifth straight year and is the most academically talented class in KU history, according to enrollment numbers released today.
Recently, I shared with the Kansas Board of Regents my intention to step down as chancellor next summer. KU always has been a special place with remarkable people and an instinctive spirit to change our world for the better. It has been an honor to lead the University of Kansas and serve as your chancellor.