Messages to faculty, staff
I always enjoy the energy that comes with the start of the semester. This year, for the first time, I am experiencing that energy as chancellor — and loving every minute of it. I’m delighted to have all of you back on campus and look forward to the work we’ll do together as a community of scholars.
I am pleased to announce that Reggie Robinson, director of our School of Public Affairs & Administration, will serve as interim vice chancellor for public affairs. Reggie will assume the role effective August 14
I am honored to write you for the first time as the 18th chancellor of the University of Kansas. Susan and I greatly appreciate the expressions of support we’ve received in recent weeks, and I look forward to working with each of you on behalf of this great institution.
This week, as I approach my final day as chancellor, I feel a combination of excitement, pride, happiness and sadness. But more than anything, I feel thankful. I feel fortunate. And I feel honored to be part of the University of Kansas and to have had the chance to work with you along the way.
During the past eight years, we have transformed the University of Kansas with 50 capital improvement projects totaling $700 million and launched a once-in-a-generation redevelopment of our Central District that will change the face of education and research at KU. But as I have said before, the transformation goes deeper than buildings and encompasses every aspect of our mission.
American public universities have played a special role ever since the first were chartered in the late 1700s. The founders understood that the United States would prosper only if it had strong universities that could educate the next generation of leaders and create the inventions and ideas that drive progress.
With new leadership comes new ideas, and that has certainly been the case in Washington since January. Some of the ideas proposed by the new administration have caused concern at universities nationwide – including the University of Kansas – and I believe many of those concerns are valid. I want to assure you we continue to work with peer universities and our congressional delegation to be part of the policymaking process on issues affecting higher education.
Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to visit with the House Higher Education Budget Committee, which this year includes a number of first-year legislators. It was my second visit in three weeks with this group, and each time, I was heartened to meet with so many thoughtful lawmakers who care deeply about our state and our university.
Last Friday’s executive order suspending immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen has raised concerns for many members of the University of Kansas community. I share these concerns, and I want to assure you we are coordinating with our international programs staff, immigration experts, and peer universities to fully understand the implications of the new federal policies.
As has been the case for many years, the start of our spring semester coincides with Martin Luther King Day observances. I re-read my opening messages of the past few years, and I found myself almost wishing that Martin Luther King Day might eventually be “just another holiday” – but it is not yet. This year, more than any I can remember in more than 30 years, King’s call for equal justice and his aspiration to make true democracy a reality for our country are needed.
As our semester comes to a close, I want to take a moment to reflect on your achievements during the past few months and thank you for your efforts on behalf of our university.
I remain committed to working with policymakers, elected officials and university leaders nationwide to promote science, research and universities’ central role in driving new discoveries and technologies. At the same time, I call on all of you to continue doing what you do best — that is, making discoveries that improve lives, create prosperity, and help us better understand the world. This is our obligation as a community of scholars.
Thanksgiving is the time of year to reflect on the blessings in our lives and the things for which we are grateful. My hope for you is that these blessings include family, friends, health and the chance to wake up each day and live a meaningful life.
The Integrated Science Building takes center stage this Thursday when we host a “topping out” ceremony with the Central District development team and construction crew. The event will include a short program and conclude with the ceremonial “raising of the final beam” atop the building.
The mission of the University of Kansas is to educate leaders, build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world. Later this week, we have an opportunity to see all aspects of this mission on display in a special way.
Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our University of Kansas community. With that in mind, I’d like to update you on our efforts to ensure KU is in compliance with state law allowing concealed weapons on university campuses beginning July 1, 2017.
As a university and a public institution, we must support the right of the members of our KU community to express their individually held beliefs. Free speech and free expression are core tenets of why universities are the center of debate, thought and discourse in our world.
I am delighted to announce this year’s freshman class has grown for the fifth straight year and is the most academically talented class in KU history, according to enrollment numbers released today.
Recently, I shared with the Kansas Board of Regents my intention to step down as chancellor next summer. KU always has been a special place with remarkable people and an instinctive spirit to change our world for the better. It has been an honor to lead the University of Kansas and serve as your chancellor.
I believe that public research universities play a special role in our society. In addition to educating students and making discoveries, we address society’s most complicated challenges on behalf of the public good. At the University of Kansas, this is reflected in our mission to strengthen communities in areas where our expertise can make a difference, both in Kansas and beyond.
The start of the fall semester is always exciting at the University of Kansas. A sense of renewal comes from seeing thousands of students returning to our campuses, and it makes me proud to think about the great work we’ll do as a community of scholars during the coming year. This year is especially exciting because of the transformation that continues at KU.
Yesterday we came together for Commencement, and I want to thank all of you who made it such a special day for our graduates and their families and friends. I would also like to take a moment to look back on what has been an historic year for the University of Kansas, thanks to you.
It is my pleasure to share with you the recipients of this year’s 2016 Scholarly Achievement Awards, which recognize five KU mid-career faculty for significant scholarly or research achievement.
Last week, we announced we will soon be welcoming three candidates for the position of Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of the Lawrence campus. The search committee received strong applications from candidates across the country who are excited about this opportunity. The truth is, KU is in an excellent position to attract top candidates for this role, thanks to your hard work.
Welcome back from Spring Break! For those of you who stayed on campus, I hope you took advantage of the slightly slower pace to catch up or get ahead on your next project. For those who left town, I hope you’re rested and ready to finish the semester strong.
Yesterday afternoon, Governor Sam Brownback announced a 3 percent cut to Kansas Board of Regents universities, totaling $17 million for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. For the University of Kansas, this reduction amounts to $7.18 million across all our campuses — $3.95 million for KU Lawrence, and $3.23 million for KU Medical Center.
In December, I wrote about how the University of Kansas is working to comply with the state law that will allow concealed handguns in campus facilities beginning July 1, 2017. Today I’d like to update you on our efforts.
The University of Kansas freshman class has grown for four straight years, a notable achievement that can be attributed largely to the great work being done by Enrollment Management, Marketing Communications and other offices that communicate directly with prospective students.
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.
As we begin this new semester, I would like to reflect on discussions about diversity and inclusion we had last semester and our ongoing work on these issues. This is especially fitting as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week through various events on campus and in our communities.
As our semester comes to a close and we begin preparations for the holiday season, I want to thank you — our alumni — for your support. Many of you encourage talented students to come to KU, while others of you donate time and financial resources to KU. Your Jayhawk pride and generosity are critical to our mission.
As our semester comes to a close and we begin preparations for the holiday season, I want to take a moment to thank you for your efforts and celebrate your achievements over the past few months.
There has been increasing discussion about changes to Kansas gun policy that will impact state universities beginning in 2017. In light of this, I’d like to outline next steps for the University of Kansas related to guns on our campuses.
A few weeks ago, we learned that Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter will be leaving us at the end of the semester to become Chancellor at the University of Mississippi. I am writing today to announce we have established the search committee that will lead our efforts to identify our next provost.
At the University of Kansas, we are focused on educating leaders who will go on to make positive contributions to our society. We are fortunate to welcome one such leader, former President Bill Clinton, to our campus today to receive the 2015 Dole Leadership Prize.
Earlier this year at Convocation, I encouraged our incoming freshmen to use their time at the University of Kansas to begin addressing our society’s great challenges.
One of my favorite experiences as chancellor is visiting with friends and supporters of the University of Kansas across the state and nation. From their detailed comments and questions, I can tell they are tracking our progress.
I am writing to let you know that a key member of our executive team will be leaving the University of Kansas for a new leadership opportunity.
The mission of the University of Kansas is to educate leaders, build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world. Recently, we had a special opportunity to see all aspects of that mission on display in a very powerful way.
This year’s freshman class is already shaping up to be quite special. First, the Class of 2019 grew to 4,187 students — an increase of 2.5 percent from last year — marking the fourth straight year of freshman class growth. More importantly, this year’s freshmen have the highest average high school GPA and second-highest average ACT score in KU history, as well as the second-highest percentage of minority students on record.
As a flagship research university, the University of Kansas’ first mission is to educate leaders who will contribute to our state and society. Of course, before we can educate these leaders, we must first recruit them to join us on Mount Oread. Thanks to your efforts, the University of Kansas continues to differentiate itself by offering outstanding educational opportunities and experiences for prospective students.
As a flagship research university, KU has a special responsibility to make discoveries that improve lives, create prosperity, and help us better understand the world. This responsibility is borne by our community of scholars — faculty, staff and students — who seek out knowledge and then share it. Thanks to your efforts, we are fulfilling this obligation.
The start of the fall semester is among my favorite times of the year. The energy that comes from having students, faculty and staff back on our campuses is palpable, and it is invigorating to think about the work we will do as a community of scholars.
Former University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway passed away Friday evening. He was 73 years old, and we take great comfort in knowing he spent his final days surrounded by his family. He leaves behind his wife, Leah, and eight grown children. While we are deeply saddened to learn of his passing, I hope we can use the coming days to celebrate his life, including the tremendous work he did as the university’s chancellor from 1995-2009.
As you’re likely aware, the Kansas Legislature has still not passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2016. Without a budget, there is no authority to distribute funds to cover the first pay period of the fiscal year, which begins Sunday, June 7. The result would be the furlough of state employees beginning that day.
From social media to research and instruction, the University strongly supports the First Amendment rights of faculty and the freedom of faculty to pursue the independent and uninhibited exchange of ideas.
In just a few days, we’ll gather for Commencement to celebrate the Class of 2015. Of course, Commencement is also an opportunity to look back on the year and reflect on the achievements of all our students, faculty and staff.
The month of May is exhilarating on our campus, partly due to the flurry of activity that comes with the end of the semester, and partly due to the anticipation of Commencement. May is also the ideal time to look back on the year and celebrate your achievements. And there are many worth celebrating.
Once embraced as a collective good, a public higher education is increasingly viewed — and paid for — as a private one. This has serious implications for students and families, and also for our economy and society, neither of which can prosper without the unique public benefits universities provide.
Last month, five new Foundation Distinguished Professors were announced, bringing the total number to eight. Victor Agadjanian, Beth Bailey, James Bever, Cecilia Menjivar, and Dennis O'Rourke represent a major step toward completing the initiative we began with our partners in Topeka three years ago.
At the start of each academic year, I have the privilege of welcoming new students and addressing our community at Convocation. And at the end of each academic year, it is my honor to preside over Commencement and confer more than 7,000 degrees upon new University of Kansas graduates.
During my tenure as chancellor, we have engaged in campus forums dedicated to specific topics ranging from our strategic plan to sexual assault on campus. I have always greatly appreciated the strong participation and open conversations of the KU community at these events.
We’ve all seen the groups of prospective students and their families touring campus with a backwards-walking Student Ambassador leading the way. But what may appear to be simply a tour is in reality a vital part of a student’s decision on which college to attend.
We are committed to the University of Kansas being an inclusive community where all feel welcome and able to express themselves without fear of discrimination. This value is a foundational one for our university, and KU’s non-discrimination policy includes prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression among its protections.
Yesterday was an historic day for the University of Kansas, as we had the honor of welcoming President Barack Obama to the university. I believe I can speak for everyone who had the chance to be part of the visit in saying it was a truly special moment for our university, and one we will not soon forget.
As we start this new semester, I want to continue the discussions we were having toward the end of the fall semester on how to be a more inclusive community. This is all the more appropriate since we are celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through events this week and next.
It’s the last week of the semester, and as students finish their last finals of 2014, I want to update you on some of the achievements of your fellow Jayhawks. But first I want to thank you and your fellow friends of KU who have made many of these achievements possible. Many of you serve on alumni advisory boards, while others help us recruit students, and still more are donors. Your support and generosity are vital to KU’s success.
A reporter from the University Daily Kansan recently asked me, “What is your favorite part about being chancellor?” I told her what I tell everyone who asks: Getting to celebrate the individual and collective accomplishments of our community—your accomplishments.
As you prepare for Thanksgiving Break, I want to express my gratitude to you for not just choosing to work at a university, but for choosing to work at a public university.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Four days of classes, then finals, and the semester will be over. But before we begin the winter break, I want to thank you for your achievements over the past semester and year.
A strong economy and a dynamic society require leaders from all kinds of disciplines, ranging from science and engineering to the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. As the state’s flagship research university, we are uniquely positioned to educate leaders across a great many fields and disciplines.
This Wednesday we will welcome members of the Kansas Legislature to two of our campuses as part of their tour of the state’s higher education institutions. Members of the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees will attend, as will members of the leadership of both chambers.
Two years ago at Opening Convocation, I talked about the climb that students and the university were embarking upon. While the students’ climb ends with a walk down Mount Oread, for our university I said, “the climb will never truly end, but we will still feel that same sense of accomplishment when we achieve the higher aspirations we are now setting for ourselves and our institution.”
You have probably heard or read that a faculty member at our university used his personal Twitter account to make comments in the wake of the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C., that have understandably generated outrage.
If you couldn’t tell from all the students wearing Far Above t-shirts, over the weekend we launched a new phase in the campaign to achieve our bold aspirations for the University of Kansas and The University of Kansas Hospital.
The start of the academic year is a time of renewal. As we welcome new students, faculty and staff to the University of Kansas, we’re also welcoming new ideas, energy and perspectives to our community of scholars.
A few weeks ago we celebrated Commencement, concluding an academic year that has seen the University of Kansas take big strides toward achieving our bold aspirations. We’re poised to continue that progress, but first I must update you on the latest round of state budget cuts.
Over the weekend, by the narrowest of majorities the Kansas Legislature passed the state budget for FY 2014 and FY 2015, which Governor Brownback is expected to sign into law. Despite advocacy that included the work of Jayhawks for Higher Education, legislators cut the University of Kansas budget by $13.53 million over the next two years.
It’s the 100th anniversary of Homecoming at the University of Kansas, and Jayhawks are returning to campus during what is already proving to be a successful fall semester. This fall, we’ve welcomed a record-setting class of new Jayhawks, been visited by a president, celebrated our largest-ever research grant and made progress toward achieving our bold aspirations.