Chancellor Douglas A. Girod

Message: Our mission — in action

Monday, October 26, 2015

The mission of the University of Kansas is to educate leaders, build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world. Recently, we had a special opportunity to see all aspects of that mission on display in a very powerful way.

Ten days ago, I hosted KU Elevate: Innovation in Action, a TED Talk-style celebration of research and innovation at the University of Kansas. The purpose of this event was to give community leaders a small sample of the ways in which KU faculty are changing the world and contributing to our society. The faculty presenters are not only educators, they are also developing new ways of thinking about crucial social issues, creating new technologies, finding cures, and starting companies. In so doing, they embody the work we do as a flagship research university.

Four faculty members — Willie Elliott, Neal Kingston, Lisa Stehno-Bittel and Bala Subramaniam — gave remarkable talks about their work and their careers.

  • Elliott, an associate professor in the School of Social Welfare, described research on the relationship of children’s assets and savings to educational outcomes and college accessibility.
  • Kingston, a professor of educational psychology and the principal or co-principal investigator of several large research projects, discussed the beneficial use of cognitive maps to improve outcomes in education.
  • Stehno-Bittel, a professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation sciences and co-founder of startup company Likarda, focused on the development of a new treatment approach for diabetes in animals.
  • Subramaniam, professor of chemical engineering and director of KU’s Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis, discussed his research in developing sustainable technologies related to fuels and chemicals.

If you were not able to attend or watch the livestream, I encourage you to view videos of these presentations here.

Those who heard professors Elliott, Kingston, Stehno-Bittel and Subramaniam were inspired by their creativity and optimism for the future. The work they’re doing, like the work you are doing as faculty, staff and students, reminds us how much we can accomplish at the University of Kansas.

As part of the same event, we also had the privilege of hearing from a University of Kansas alumnus whose work is a blend of leadership and innovation — Uber executive and Google Earth co-creator Brian McClendon. A graduate of our engineering school, McClendon today is guiding Uber as it changes the face of transportation worldwide, the same way Google Earth fundamentally changed the way we conceptualize our planet.

We are a community of diverse scholars doing work across the spectrum of academic disciplines, but we are united in our pursuit of knowledge and our obligation to share it with the society we serve. Thus, we can all view professors Elliott, Kingston, Stehno-Bittel and Subramaniam as exemplars of KU’s effort to improve lives, create jobs and prosperity, and help us better understand ourselves and our world.

Thank you for being part of our important mission.

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.