In July, I had the honor of writing you for the first time as chancellor. Today, as our semester comes to a close, I would like to take a moment to reflect on my first six months in Strong Hall and thank you for your support.
My first semester has been a whirlwind — and I’ve loved every minute of it! From Rotary lunches to university governance events, donor visits to department meetings, advisory boards to volleyball matches, I have visited with individuals across our campuses and throughout the nation. These interactions have confirmed for me that KU is blessed with remarkable students, employees and supporters who care deeply about this university.
My goal for KU is to improve every aspect of our mission, elevate our national stature, attract the best scholars, and enhance our status in the Association of American Universities. To do this, we are focusing on improving the student experience, expanding our outreach to the state, and growing our research enterprise. Thanks to you, we have made strides in all of these areas this semester. Here are just a few of the highlights:
The semester began with the first cohort of students to train in the new Health Education Building at KU Medical Center and the first students to live in the new Cora Downs Residence Hall in our Central District. These facilities are the latest examples of the ongoing transformation of our campuses.
This semester, enrollment increased for the fourth straight year, and we recruited the most talented and diverse freshman class in history. We also welcomed 2,000 prospective students and family members to campus for Crimson & Blue Day with the goal of continuing our recruitment success in 2018.
Our researchers excelled this semester. Kristin Bowman-James and her colleagues received $20 million from the National Science Foundation for research on microorganisms. Joanna Slusky won an NIH grant to further her work in combating antibiotic resistance. Three KU faculty were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Cory Berkland became our fourth National Academy of Inventors fellow.
This semester saw outstanding achievements from our students. Our debate team enjoyed one of the most successful fall semesters in program history, and junior Anastasia Rychagova was ranked the nation’s No. 1 tennis player and named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. In November, the Military Times ranked us No. 5 for our commitment to military-affiliated students. We also continued to make campus more welcoming and inclusive through our Campus Climate Study and related initiatives.
KU continued to host some of the most remarkable leaders on the planet. In October, we welcomed President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, himself a KU alumnus and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Shortly after, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg chose KU for a fireside chat broadcast to the world.
If this seems like a lot of great news for one semester, that’s because it is. Each of you contributed to these successes, and for that you have my sincerest appreciation.
Happy holidays, and best wishes on the new year.
Douglas A. Girod, MD