Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little at Traditions Night 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Remarks as prepared for delivery.

Thanks, Mike.  And welcome, Jayhawks!

Tonight is all about traditions.  And one of KU’s strongest and oldest traditions is our pursuit of academic excellence.  Throughout its history, this university – your university – has proudly educated leaders, built healthy communities    and made discoveries that changed the world.

You’re joining a proud tradition.

Your university is where helium was first isolated.  Helium is important to more than just balloons.  It’s used in everything from MRIs to superconductors.

Your university is where Professor Takeru Higuichi taught. He invented the time-release capsules used in many of the medicines you’ll find at the pharmacy.  Today Professor Val Stella teaches here, And he’s continuing that tradition by inventing drugs for the treatment of conditions like epilepsy and cancer.

Your university is where Clyde Tombaugh studied. He discovered Pluto.  (And on Mount Oread Pluto is still a planet.)  After Clyde was here, we had three Jayhawk astronauts, including Steve Hawley.  You can take a class from Steve, as he teaches in our department of physics and astronomy.

Your university is at the center of Google Earth. That’s because KU alum Brian McClendon invented it. And another Jayhawk co-invented PowerPoint.

This June Oprah published her list of the best new books. At number one was The Chaperone, by best-selling author Laura Moriarty.  Laura teaches at your university, her alma mater.

Your university also the alma mater of Juan Manuel Santos, president of the Republic of Colombia. And the alma mater of the CEOs of Ford, IGA, AMC, Kroger, Travelocity, and many, many other businesses.  The publisher of USA Today is a Jayhawk.  So is the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the former chairwoman of the FDIC.

Your university has an Academy Award sitting in Murphy Hall, won by writer William Inge.

There’s also a Grammy Award there, won by opera singer Joyce Castle. You can take a class from her, too.

Your university has a remarkable tradition of academic excellence and a history of changing the world for the better.  Now it’s now your turn.

Here at KU, your opportunities to learn won’t be limited by who you are or where you come from.  Your only limits are those you place on yourself.  So don’t.

Instead follow in the proud tradition of all the Jayhawks who have come before you by taking full advantage of all the opportunities here.

Go to class.  Talk with your professors.  Join clubs and activities.  Go to class.  

This is your university – use your time here to become the leaders you’re meant to become.

If you do that in four years you’ll be ready to take part in our most important tradition: walking down that Hill, and into this stadium as KU graduates.

Rock Chalk!



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.