Chancellor Douglas A. Girod

Message to alumni: Celebrating Jayhawks’ achievements

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dear Jayhawks,

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.

Commencement is also an opportunity to reflect on the past academic year before we turn our attention to 2014-15 and beyond.

Last fall, we welcomed a freshman class that set records for talent and diversity. They began their academic careers in the KU Core Curriculum, which enables students to combine classes and experiences to tailor their education to their interests and goals.

This spring, KU saw significant gains in U.S. News and World Report rankings. Our strengths in academics and scholarship helped us recruit our first three Foundation Distinguished Professors: K. Christopher Beard in ecology and evolutionary biology, William Picking in pharmaceutical chemistry, and David Roediger in American studies and history.

These esteemed scholars join a university community whose members are earning national acclaim for their discoveries. For example, just two weeks ago, University Distinguished Professor Joe Lutkenhaus in the Department of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, and Immunology was honored with election to the National Academy of Sciences for his contributions to the understanding of bacterial cells.

Of course, achieving our bold aspirations requires new resources for everything from scholarships and professorships to facilities. We continue to benefit from generous support for Far Above, and are also achieving savings in administrative areas that we’re redirecting to teaching and research.   

At the same time, state support remains vital to the success of the university. This legislative session, less than a third of last year’s budget cuts were restored and we did not receive funding for the proposed Kansas Institute for Translational Chemical Biology. We did, however, obtain backing for the Health Education Initiative. When this support is coupled with university resources and private donations, we will be able to train more doctors and health professionals, and train them in an environment that replicates today’s team approach to health care.

Across-the-board—from educating leaders, to building healthy communities, to making discoveries that change the world—the past academic year has seen us continue to elevate the quality and stature of our university.

These advances are possible thanks to the energy of our students, the dedication of our faculty and staff, and the support we receive from you and your fellow friends of the university. Thank you for all that you do to strengthen KU, and best wishes for an enjoyable summer.

Rock Chalk!

Bernadette Gray-Little

P.S. We’re hard at work recruiting the next class of Jayhawks. In fact, the application for fall 2015 opens on July 1. If you know a student who would make a great addition to our academic community, please let us know.


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.