Kansas Team Health
In May 2019, Kansas Athletics launched a new model of student-athlete care believed to be the first of its kind among major collegiate athletics programs. The model entailed a collaboration among Kansas Athletics, The University of Kansas Health System, and LMH Health to launch Kansas Team Health, a new model of care that makes the resources of The University of Kansas Health System and LMH Health available to provide the best care possible for KU student-athletes, and clearly establishes the responsibility of care with medical professionals while minimizing potential conflicts of interest between coaches and sports medicine staff.
This new model transitioned approximately 40 sports medicine staff – including physicians, athletic trainers, nutritionists, wellness coordinators and, most notably, strength and conditioning coaches – from Kansas Athletics to The University of Kansas Health System. As a result, staff members now fully report to medical professionals, rather than through a physician employed by the department and reporting to Kansas Athletics administrators. This is now a true medical oversight and health care compliance model.
While there are some collegiate sports care and training models across the country involving physicians and trainers, the Kansas Team Health model is believed to be the first among major universities to incorporate strength and conditioning coaches — a category of practitioners that has received increased attention across college sports in recent years.
The new model is the result of purposeful efforts by KU and Kansas Athletics to provide the highest level of care to student-athletes. This change positions Kansas as a national leader in addressing concerns and challenges across college athletics related to athletics department reporting structures and medical care.
The three partner organizations first began exploring this model at the direction of Chancellor Girod, himself a surgeon. Since then, research and best practices provided by Dr. Brian Hainline, chief medical officer, NCAA Sport Science Institute, and widely publicized sports medicine challenges across the country confirmed for Girod the need to create a better model of student-athlete care.
“The norm in college athletics has been for sports medicine practitioners to report to athletics department administrators,” Girod said. “At KU, our student-athletes have received outstanding care, and we have not had issues related to supervision and adherence to best practices. That said, we knew we had a special opportunity to be innovative and get ahead of the curve. As a result, I believe we can tell all current and future student-athletes that they’re getting the best care and training in the country at the University of Kansas.”
Watkins Student Health
At the same time that the Chancellor was leading the launch of Kansas Team Health, he was working to create a similar medical oversight model for KU students outside of Kansas Athletics who for decades have received healthcare through Watkins Health Services.
Specifically, in 2019 the Chancellor began exploring new management options for Watkins that would enhance the level of care and address emerging challenges we observed at other university healthcare facilities across the nation. In exploring options, we were fortunate to have two outstanding partners in The University of Kansas Health System and LMH Health, with whom we had previously launched the groundbreaking new Kansas Team Health model for student-athlete care.
In January 2021, we were pleased to share that The University of Kansas Health System and LMH Health would assume responsibility for medical management and oversight of Watkins. This new model makes the resources of The University of Kansas Health System and LMH Health available to provide expanded care for students in the future while establishing a clear medical-oversight model today.
More specifically, this partnership will:
- ensure a legacy of quality, affordable healthcare for students
- provide seamless continuity of care when students need specialized services not provided within the student clinic
- sustain Watkins’ expertise in providing care and education to students
- connect KU medical providers to multi-disciplinary medical teams who are leading the way in addressing some of the most complicated health issues
- maintain a friendly, collegial working environment while providing the security of medical oversight from a major health system
- develop attractive and competitive medical jobs capable of attracting the most talented and diverse workforce possible to serve an increasingly diverse student population
The Task Force on Community-Responsive Public Safety was created in summer 2020 by Chancellor Girod to review KU Public Safety policies and procedures; examine best practices and proposals for change; and make recommendations to ensure respectful, transparent and community-responsive public safety services.
The task force comprised students, faculty and staff and was chaired by Distinguished Professor Charles Epp. In October 2020, the task force published its preliminary report and recommendations and invited the KU community to provide feedback. On Nov. 10, the task force shared its final report and recommendations with Chancellor Girod for review.
On May 24, 2021, Chancellor Girod announced that the university would be implementing all of the task force's recommendations and provided a point-by-point summary addressing each recommendation.
The Chancellor has committed to convening a group in fall 2021 to review progress on the implementation of task force recommendations and provide updates to the community as needed. That group will comprise the university’s chief of police, vice provost for student affairs, vice provost for operations, associate vice chancellor for public affairs, chancellor’s chief of staff, and chair of the task force.
The University of Kansas continues to be a national leader in how universities prevent and respond to sexual assault and harassment on campus. In recognition of both the university and chancellor's leadership in this area, Chancellor Girod has been asked to serve on special committees on sexual assault and harassment for both the Association of American Universities and the National Academy of Sciences.
In November 2018, the University of Kansas created the Sorority and Fraternity Life Task Force to evaluate sorority and fraternity life at KU, explore best practices related to policy and programming, and submit recommendations on how Greek life can be enhanced. The goal is to ensure that a strong sorority and fraternity system continues to be a valuable part of the student experience at KU.
The 27-member task force comprises students, parents, alumni, housing corporation representatives, advisors, university administrators and staff, whose diverse perspectives are essential to this process. The task force is chaired by KU alumnus Mike Michaelis.
The task force completed its first round of work and submitted its recommendations to Chancellor Girod in fall 2019. On January 10, 2020, Chancellor Girod shared the recommendations with the KU community and applauded the task force for its work during the previous year.