Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little

Integrated Science Building "Topping Out" Ceremony

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The following are Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little's remarks at the Integrated Science Building "Topping Out" Ceremony on November 10, 2016.

Good morning! Thank you all for being here to celebrate this special occasion for the University of Kansas.

You know, it’s not every day you get to celebrate the university’s largest expansion project in almost 100 years. But that’s exactly what we will do this morning, and I am so excited to share this day with you.

In 2014, KU launched a campus master plan, designed to put our aspirations as a flagship research university into physical form. Key to that plan was the development of our Central District into a new hub of education and research that would address urgent needs and position us for excellence for decades to come.

Now, after years of hard work and planning, that vision is becoming a reality. Today, we celebrate a Central District project that will fundamentally transform this university and the way we educate leaders and conduct research.

The Central District project has six core components:

  • New apartment-style housing and a new residence hall
  • A new student union
  • A new parking garage and utility plant

… And of course, this remarkable Integrated Science Building — that we’ll “top out” with the “raising of the final beam” about an hour from now.

Once complete, the Integrated Science Building will comprise 280,000 square feet of space for teaching and learning, and for interdisciplinary research in chemistry, medicinal chemistry, physics, molecular biosciences and related fields.

For our students, this means new classrooms, new ways of interacting with instructors and classmates, and close integration of their undergraduate studies with cutting-edge research activity.

For our researchers, it means a state-of-the-art facility designed to spawn multidisciplinary research and serve as an anchoring point for collaboration among KU’s research centers and campuses.

More broadly, this building will benefit our entire university by helping us recruit new scholars, pursue new funding opportunities, foster technology-based startups and enhance the visibility of KU nationally.

I’ve spoken often about our mission and our aspirations to be recognized among the nation’s top public research universities. This Integrated Science Building gives us the resources to continue that mission and achieve those aspirations like never before.

Of course, this building is just one in a series of projects that, together, have forever transformed our university, and the way we teach and do scientific research. In recent years, we’ve built a new School of Pharmacy … We’ve expanded our Engineering complex … And we continue work on our Earth, Energy & Environment Center and our new Heath Education Building in Kansas City.          

Together, these projects have transformed the university.

Not just changed or improved Transformed.

You are all part of this transformation, and I thank you for that.

There are so many people to thank for getting us to this day, and I can’t possibly name them all. But I do want to recognize a few folks. In particular:

University Architect Jim Modig and the entire team at DCM.

The Central District Steering Committee, which includes individuals from across the university.

The team that developed the new private-sector model that we’re using to finance this project.

And of course, all of you from Edgemoor, CBG Building Company, Clark Construction, McCownGordon, and the many other groups working on this project.

Thank you for your work in support of our mission.

In just a few moments, Jim Modig will share with you some details about this building. But when you leave here today, remember that this is not about a physical building. Rather, it is about the students who will learn in this building so they can become leaders in their fields … It’s about the faculty and staff who will educate these students and make discoveries that improve our world … And more broadly, today is about all of you! — who have helped make the Central District, and this Integrated Science Building, a reality.

With that, it is my pleasure to introduce Garrison Krotz, president of Student Union Activities.

Thank you, and Rock Chalk!



One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," 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.

KU is in the midst of a comprehensive effort to ensure the university is ranked among the top tier of public international research universities.

Through Bold Aspirations, our strategic plan, we're changing the way we prepare students for success. We're fostering research and scholarship across all disciplines. And we're sharing the benefits of a flagship university with our state and world.

This effort is supported by Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, as well as our initiative to reduce administrative costs, Changing for Excellence.