It is hard to believe that my first walk down the Hill is a week away. It seems like only yesterday that Shade and I made our first visit to the Outlook, took our first stroll down Mass. Street, and experienced for the first time the warm welcome of the Jayhawk family.
I want to thank everyone who has made this first academic year at KU such a rewarding and successful one. And I want to thank all the people who have welcomed me into their classrooms, labs, offices, homes and communities. Your openness and willingness to share what you love about KU, as well as your ideas to make it even better, have informed and inspired me.
Of course, the past year has had its challenges, not the least of which being the opportunities lost as a result of the ongoing state budget crisis. But while we've had our share of both triumphs and disappointments, I am more confident today than I was just nine months ago about the bright future for this university.
That confidence comes in part from having met the people of KU. At every level, in every unit, and on every campus, we have individuals devoted to the welfare of this university and the people we serve. I have greatly enjoyed meeting the many people who enable KU to excel, and look forward to getting to know those of you I haven't yet had a chance to meet.
My confidence in the future of our university is also bolstered by the widespread support for KU that I have witnessed firsthand. My travels inside Kansas and to gatherings with alumni around the United States have introduced me to hundreds of supporters, alumni and fans who have an intense loyalty to KU.
I have lost track of the number of people who have come up to me and mentioned how they went to KU, or they have a child or grandchild going here, or that they're just a huge fan. To a person, they have a tremendous affection for KU and desire to help us succeed. All of this is due to your work and dedication.
In the coming year we will continue to make Jayhawks proud, both through your accomplishments in academics, research, service, and beyond, but also by taking the steps necessary to ensure the long-term excellence of our university.
Part of that will involve putting into action the recommendations made by the task forces on admissions, retention and graduation, and research engagement that I convened last fall. I will work closely with the members of these task forces and others throughout the university to develop plans for putting many of their recommendations into place.
But this coming weekend, task forces and recommendations will be set aside, and we will focus on our graduates. As we do every year, we will send thousands of newly minted graduates down the Hill and into the world where they will do amazing things in virtually every field of human endeavor.
I want to be among the first to congratulate them on reaching this milestone in their lives, and I look forward to joining them - and you - on the Hill this Sunday.