Chancellor Douglas A. Girod

Message to alumni: Continuing KU’s tradition of excellence

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dear Jayhawks,

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.

In August, we welcomed nearly 3,800 new freshmen to campus, the highest number since 2009. This class of Jayhawks has the distinction of being not only the most diverse in KU’s history, but also the most academically talented, with an average ACT score of 25.1. And through more aggressive outreach, including with the help of the KU Alumni Association and Jayhawks like you, we are poised to recruit even more students to KU and help them progress to graduation.

If you know of a student who would make a great Jayhawk, let us know. The deadline to apply for scholarships, including the Jayhawk Generations Scholarship for children and grandchildren of KU graduates, is November 1.

Part of KU’s mission is educating leaders, and few of our graduates have risen higher than Juan Manuel Santos, president of the Republic of Colombia. President Santos returned to campus in September, holding a Q&A session with students and taking part in a public conversation at the Dole Institute of Politics. At each of these, President Santos emphasized how his time at KU shaped his life and prepared him to lead his nation.

As the state’s flagship research university, we’re also called upon to build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world. One of the ways we’re doing that is by helping students with disabilities.

Our School of Education features the nation’s top-ranked special education program, and this fall we learned that KU will be home to a new initiative designed to improve the way K-12 schools educate all students, including students with disabilities. Wayne Sailor, associate director of the KU Life Span Institute’s Beach Center on Disability and professor of special education, will direct this effort with Associate Research Professor Amy McCart. This project is funded by a $24.5 million grant—the largest research grant in our history.

Talented faculty members drive teaching and discovery at KU, which is why we’re recruiting for 64 new faculty positions. A dozen of these will be distinguished professors, with funding provided by Governor Brownback and the Kansas Legislature. We’ve also achieved enough administrative savings through Changing for Excellence to fund 22 additional faculty members, and we will recruit 30 engineering professors as part of the state-supported effort to meet the need for more engineering graduates.

To house these new engineering faculty members and the students they’ll teach, today we broke ground for a new teaching building for the school. The School of Engineering also dedicated a sustainable engineering research building earlier this month, and the School of Business received a $20 million donation from the Capitol Federal Foundation toward the construction of a new building for business students.

All of these achievements advance our drive to be recognized as a top-tier public international research university. That’s the overarching vision of Bold Aspirations, our strategic plan, and we just issued our report on the first year of this effort on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses. This plan will be successful thanks to the support of alumni and friends, as well as donors to KU Endowment’s Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas.

Every day brings us new accomplishments by KU students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends. Thank you for your support of the University of Kansas and all that we do to lift students and society.

Bernadette Gray-Little

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
Chancellor's Vision

The mission of the University of Kansas is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

We will do that by raising the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.