Building healthy communities in Kansas

Dear Colleagues,

Faculty, staff and students at the University of Kansas are building healthier communities across our state, and I want to update you on these efforts. But first, I want to provide a brief update from Topeka, where the 2016 Legislative Session has begun.

Governor Brownback has issued his budget recommendations and has again called for stable funding for KU, which we were pleased to see. Still, the state continues to face difficult budget challenges, and we know that lawmakers will have tough choices to make in the months ahead.

We appreciate that state lawmakers have been able to hold our funding stable for the last two years, and we will be asking that they do the same this year. As you know, it will be difficult for KU to absorb additional cuts without negatively affecting our students and our mission.

The session is just beginning, and you can expect more news as legislators continue to meet for the next several months. To stay up to date and to learn how you can advocate for our university, I encourage you to join Jayhawks for Higher Education, our statewide advocacy network.

As always, we continue to make targeted investments to ensure that we remain focused on our key priorities, including building healthy communities in Kansas and beyond.

In conversations I have with legislators, donors and other university stakeholders, I am often asked to provide updates on your work. I always enjoy discussing how the work done in Lawrence and at our medical center campuses benefits communities across the state.

The KU Center for Telemedicine & Telehealth is an important example of how we make Kansans’ lives better. In 69 Kansas counties, residents connect with doctors in Kansas City through videoconferencing services, eliminating distance as a barrier to health care. And, of course, our doctors and health care professionals continue to make outreach efforts across the state.

This is one of many efforts across KU to strengthen not just the physical health of communities, but also to create jobs, enrich citizens’ lives through the arts and humanities, and to aid low-income schools.

Communities thrive when Kansas’ law enforcement officers receive training at our Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Yoder, and they thrive when our School of Business’ RedTire program keeps rural businesses open by matching our graduates with company owners who are looking to retire.

We bring students from rural Kansas to our campus for a summer arts program, where they experience a week of arts, culture and campus life. And as communities throughout central and western Kansas think about how to address declining groundwater levels, they do so armed with data collected from nearly 570 wells by crews from our Kansas Geological Survey.

With the support of policymakers, we will continue to invest in our state’s future, and continue to improve the communities where people live, work and play. Everyone who works or studies at KU contributes to this effort, and it is an effort of which we should rightly be proud.

Thank you for this work, and best wishes throughout the semester.


Bernadette Gray-Little