As I meet with Jayhawks across the state and on our campuses, I am continually reminded of how much impact we have on the lives of our students during the relatively short period of time they spend with us. Today, I want to focus on thinking about how we can continue to improve the student experience at KU. While we already perform well in this area, we can always look for opportunities to do better.
This idea of focusing on the student experience is similar to my work as a surgeon and administrator at KU Medical Center. Health care was originally designed around the providers, not the patients. Over the last several years we changed this focus to put the patient at center of all our conversations and decisions. While this created some inconveniences for us as providers, it has allowed us to significantly enhance the patient experience. The University of Kansas Hospital is now one of the top performers in the nation for patient satisfaction and quality and has grown to be the largest hospital in the region.
In many ways I find this thought process is relevant to universities. And, approached correctly, this mindset is applicable to everyone on campus. From our facilities operations to our academic departments, every one of our interactions with students represents an opportunity to improve their experience at KU.
We have already made great strides in several of these areas, including our student recruitment and retention efforts. For five straight years, we have grown our freshman class enrollment. This is particularly notable because it came during a period when we faced declining college enrollments regionally and nationally.
Another good example of this work comes through our redesigned KU Core undergraduate curriculum. Instead of a focus on required classes, the new curriculum is more flexible. It focuses on the fundamental skills we want students to learn and gives them a variety of ways to acquire them. It also relieved major bottlenecks for student progression.
I would encourage all of us to think differently about the work we do each day and look for ways to continue to improve our student experience. The shift to a patient-centered mindset has been critical to success of our hospital and I believe a student-centered mindset can similarly drive the success of our students and our university.