In the news
During the past week, we have engaged as a community in an ongoing dialogue about sexual assault and how we can address this difficult issue together. Some of you have shared heartbreaking stories of your own sexual assault, while others have made recommendations about actions we can take to improve our prevention and response efforts.
Sexual assault on college campuses is a national problem, and one that has been highlighted this week here at the University of Kansas.
This is one of my favorite times of the year. The residence and scholarship halls are full of activity. Jayhawk Boulevard has reopened. And students on all five of our campuses are back in classrooms, laboratories, and libraries as we start a new academic year.
Classrooms and sidewalks are filling up, and the construction fencing for most projects is coming down, marking the start of a new academic year at the University of Kansas. For those of you who are new to our university: welcome. I know I speak for your colleagues when I say that I’m glad you’re here and I can’t wait to see the contributions you will make to our community. For those of you who are returning, and for the many of you for whom summer isn’t a break at all, I hope that you are ready to continue our shared drive to achieve our bold aspirations.
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little welcomed new and returning Jayhawks during the 149th Convocation of the University of Kansas. She outlined the possibilities available to students, and urged them to be active members of the academic community.
Chancellor Gray-Little called on graduates to "always strive to be something bigger than your selfie" during her farewell to the Class of 2014 at the University of Kansas' 142nd Commencement.
Freedom of inquiry and expression are vital to the success of universities, as well as central to the rights and responsibilities we have as university faculty and staff. As with most Regents policies, application of the social media policy will be governed by each individual campus. At the University of Kansas, we will ensure that the application is guided by our commitment to academic freedom and open inquiry and expression as protected by the First Amendment.
In just a few days, we’ll gather at Commencement to congratulate the Class of 2014. They will walk down the Hill and into the world having benefited from all the opportunities available at a flagship research university. The Jayhawk Nation is truly global, and I know that you will welcome this year’s graduates into your ranks, helping them get off to a good start, just as generations of KU alumni have done for each succeeding class.
Before we gather at Commencement to congratulate our graduates, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your achievements during the course of the academic year. You have much to be proud of.
Chancellor Gray-Little joined area leaders to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the establishment of the Johnson County Education and Research Triangle. Among other successes, JCERT has led to the creation of the KU Clinical Research Center in Fairway and an expansion of degree offerings at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park.
Our first mission as a university is to educate students who will go out into the world and become leaders in their fields and their communities. We have an example of one of those leaders returning to our campus tomorrow.
During the past several months, we have been working closely with policymakers to secure support for initiatives that will help the University of Kansas achieve its bold aspirations. I’m pleased to report success in several key areas.
When the 2014 session of the Kansas Legislature opened in mid-January, Governor Brownback proposed a budget that saw partial restorations of the cuts made to the University of Kansas last year. Over the past two months, I and several other leaders from our university have met with legislators and testified to committees in support of the Governor’s Budget. We outlined how the proposals for higher education would help us better serve Kansans and achieve the shared aspirations we have for the university.
Our primary mission at the University of Kansas is to educate students to become leaders in our state and world. As chancellor, nothing is more satisfying than the opportunity to visit with KU graduates who walked down the Hill and went on to prosperous careers and fulfilling lives.
One of the great privileges of being chancellor is that I get to share your accomplishments with our alumni and donors, policymakers, and peers around the nation. From alumni gatherings to meetings with AAU presidents, and now in the 2014 Chancellor’s Report, I have the honor of sharing your achievements with the world.
I’d like to thank the staff members on all of our campuses who have been hard at work the past couple days clearing the snow so the university could reopen. It is a cold, difficult job, and our community is grateful for your efforts. I also want to thank those of you who worked through the storm in order to keep our students housed, fed, and safe. The forecast calls for the accumulated snow to stay with us for a while, so please be careful when traveling.
Partnerships with policymakers at all levels of government are vital to our ability to achieve our bold aspirations. As we start the new semester, I want to update you on news from the Statehouse and the Board of Regents that is of interest to the University of Kansas.
Chancellor Gray-Little was the featured speaker at the Greater Wichita Ministerial League's citywide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration. She spoke of the continued need to work for opportunity if we are to achieve both justice and peace.
Yesterday, the Board of Regents voted to enact a policy governing social media postings by faculty and staff at all Regents universities. Application of this policy falls to the individual universities. As is the case with other Regents policies governing faculty and staff rights and responsibilities, we will work closely with university governance on how to apply this policy at KU in a way that respects our university’s core values and beliefs, as well as our rights and responsibilities as public university employees.
We’re in the last week of fall classes at the University of Kansas, and after finals next week, students will be heading home for break. As the semester ends, so too does a special year for our university.