Welcome to the first day of classes of the 2011–12 academic year at the University of Kansas! It was a pleasure to see many of you at Convocation last night as we formally started the latest chapter in the history of our university.
KU exists to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that will change the world. We can only achieve this mission if we raise the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.
The coming year will be vital to the future success of our university, and by extension the students and state we serve.
Over the course of the past year, hundreds of you have been involved in charting the course of KU. The university strategic plan, comprising the plan under development here in Lawrence and one completed earlier this year at the KU Medical Center, will serve as our guide as we move forward this year and in the coming years.
When it comes to our students, we are already taking steps to enhance recruitment through new renewable scholarships added to the comprehensive financial aid offerings that help make KU affordable. And to ensure students succeed and graduate, we have piloted early warning systems and are in the midst of renewing the general education curriculum, among other actions.
As a research university, we have a special role in our state. We drive innovation and prosperity through our teaching and our discoveries. That’s why our plans include measures to enable more faculty members to be engaged in scholarship and research, as well as ways to enhance the educational experience and success of graduate students.
These benefits to our students and society at large are magnified by the way we use scholarship for public benefit, such as by turning breakthroughs at the frontiers of medicine into cures for patients, or by studying racial disparities in how our nation funds research.
The moves we make in the coming year will do much to determine the future course of KU. As I said last night, we will not be successful as a national research university if we do not make the needed changes and resume our climb. To stand still is to let others pass us by.
Our success as a university will be measured in the lives we change and save; by the jobs we create and the communities we strengthen; and by the lifetimes brightened through art and science, as well as those informed through the humanities.
Our work this year and in the years beyond will truly be measured by the thousands of ways, big and small, that a research university enables our community, our state, and our society to thrive and prosper.
I’m proud to be here at the University of Kansas because I know KU’s faculty and staff are dedicated to our noble mission, and to the success of all those we serve. I can’t wait to see what the year ahead will bring for all of us.