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 remarkable example of Jayhawk generosity came last week, when we announced Al and Lila Self’s $58 million donation for scholarships and graduate fellowships. This gift from their estate is a wonderful final gift from a couple whose generosity has transformed the lives of countless Jayhawks. Their gift also provides a spectacular conclusion to a year of progress for the university.
This year, overall enrollment grew for the first time since the record enrollment of 2008. This was due in part to more robust recruitment of undergraduates—including a freshman class that set a record for its diversity—and the recruitment of more graduate students, including the first dozen to be named Chancellor’s Doctoral Fellows.
Jayhawks are benefitting from our work to redesign courses and utilize technology to maximize student achievement. When coupled with enhancements to advising and other student services, these changes will help increase the number of students who earn degrees on time.
And as they seek their degrees, Jayhawks can find inspiration among fellow students, such as those in the Department of Aerospace Engineering’s 2014 graduating class. Every member of this class was part of at least one award-winning international design competition team, a feat unmatched in the history of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
KU is a vital source of educated leaders for businesses and communities, and this year we secured state and philanthropic support to expand the School of Medicine to address Kansas’ physician shortage. Expansions of the schools of Business and Engineering are under way, with development of the Lawrence Campus guided by the new Campus Master Plan.
This year also saw us welcome dozens of new faculty members, including our first three distinguished foundation professors. These scholars join colleagues committed to breaking down barriers between academic disciplines so that our discoveries can change the world and help address the challenges of our time.
During the fall semester, our community also has been engaged in the national dialogue on how to better prevent and respond to sexual assault at colleges and universities. An in-depth story on the steps we’ve taken thus far appeared in the November edition of Kansas Alumni.
For all the progress we’ve made toward our bold aspirations, there are challenges ahead, including the State of Kansas’ budget deficit. If you are a Kansas resident and would like to advocate for your university, I encourage you to join the KU Alumni Association’s Jayhawks for Higher Education.
I hope you’re as proud as I am of the achievements of your fellow Jayhawks. And I hope you know how much your support means to them, and to your university. Thank you for all you do to strengthen KU, and best wishes for a joyous holiday season and prosperous new year.