Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little

Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas Kick-off

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Remarks as prepared for delivery.

Welcome alumni and friends!  Didn’t that video fill you with pride?

It’s wonderful to see some of the accomplished graduates this university has educated and hear from some of our distinguished faculty.  And who better to join with Joyce Castle and our talented student performers to welcome us tonight but all of these KU students – thank you all for being here.

I know everyone here is proud to watch our students excel on the national stage.  In fact, I can’t imagine a better time to celebrate where we are, and to look ahead enthusiastically to our bold aspirations for the future.

What a year it’s already been. 

Four KU students were named prestigious Goldwater Scholars, and this year KU was second in the nation for faculty members honored with Fulbright awards.  Kelsey Murrell, whom you saw in the opening video, became our 26th Rhodes Scholar – a total that’s more than all other Kansas universities combined.

Diamond Dixon and Andrea Geubelle won national track and field titles.  And brothers Sean and Patrick Kennedy advanced to the elite eight of the National Debate Tournament.

The University Health System Consortium ranked The University of Kansas Hospital No. 2 among the nation’s academic medical centers for quality and safety.  It's the third time since 2007 the hospital has been ranked in the top five.

Associate professor of journalism Doug Ward was named Journalism Teacher of the Year and just accepted the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award two nights ago.

And since we’re in this historic building, let’s talk about basketball for a moment.  Coach Henrickson and her squad made it to the Sweet 16, and who can forget the run for the national championship by Coach Self and the men’s team.

I could go on, but we only have the Fieldhouse for one night!

We’re proud of our students, faculty and staff because their achievements remind us what a remarkable place this is.  Their success – now and in the future – is the reason we’re here tonight.

Each of the achievements I listed, and the many I didn’t, are the result of talented individuals coming together in a place that emphasizes their strengths and allows them to realize their full potential. 

All of that is in service of our noble mission as the state’s flagship university:  To lift students and society far above by educating leaders, building healthy communities,             and making discoveries that change the world.

And we will achieve that mission by raising the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.

When we create an environment for making discoveries, we not only create jobs and prosperity, but we change our understanding of our world and improve the lives of people everywhere.

When we challenge ourselves to build healthy communities, we’re talking about curing diseases and saving lives.

But we’re also creating sustainable prosperity, and making communities more vibrant with the arts and humanities.

And when we commit to educating leaders, we ensure that all of our students – including those with us tonight – have the faculty mentorship and the experiences that let them pursue whatever brilliant futures they can imagine.  And we make it possible for them to start those futures right here at KU.

At its heart, Far Above is not about the University of Kansas and The University of Kansas Hospital.  It’s about the students, state and society we serve.  It’s about delivering the benefits of a top-tier public research university to the world. 

To do this, we are embarking on the most ambitious campaign this university has ever undertaken.  Through Far Above, we seek to raise – we will raise – $1.2 billion dollars – a bold goal, matching our bold aspirations.

Like our university, this campaign will succeed because of the collective contributions of countless individuals.  Tonight we’re sharing stories that show the amazing possibilities that stretch out before us.  Stories that illustrate our strengths, highlight our potential, and help us all envision the great things we can achieve together.

Far Above will soar because of your dedication, your talent and your love for this university.

Together we will leave a lasting legacy to the generations of Jayhawks and the countless people here and around the world who will see their dreams take flight.

It is on their behalf that I say: thank you.



One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
Chancellor's Vision

The mission of the University of Kansas is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

We will do that by raising the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.

KU is in the midst of a comprehensive effort to ensure the university is ranked among the top tier of public international research universities.

Through Bold Aspirations, our strategic plan, we're changing the way we prepare students for success. We're fostering research and scholarship across all disciplines. And we're sharing the benefits of a flagship university with our state and world.

This effort is supported by Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, as well as our initiative to reduce administrative costs, Changing for Excellence.