I love the energy that sweeps our university as students return to campus for the first day of classes. Today, as we kick off the new academic year, I’d like to briefly touch on a few milestones and preview some of the initiatives we will discuss this year.
First, I want to welcome our 118 new faculty members across the Lawrence and KU Medical Center campuses. I am excited for these new Jayhawks to help advance our mission as a public research university and member of the Association of American Universities.
Perhaps the semester’s most notable milestone is the Central District, which was completed this summer and is already transforming the Lawrence campus. Within the district, students are now living in Stouffer Place Apartments and convening in the Burge Union. Additionally, these students are joining faculty in the new Integrated Science Building, a remarkable facility that empowers us with modern space for teaching, learning and interdisciplinary research.
In September, we will join City of Lawrence officials to host a 90-person delegation of economic and university leaders from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Our guests are visiting us to learn how Lawrence and KU partner to drive innovation and growth. They are especially interested to learn about our Bioscience & Technology Business Center and Rock Chalk Park.
This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Edwards Campus in Overland Park, which continues to grow its enrollment, offerings and footprint with a focus on Kansas City’s workforce needs. Thanks to efforts coordinated by the Edwards Campus, in November we will gather in Leavenworth to celebrate the expansion of our academic facilities there.
This year we will continue our efforts to strengthen Kansas communities. This includes bringing together medicine and nursing students in the Salina Health Education Center, where we provide interprofessional learning opportunities with the broader goal of addressing healthcare access in rural communities.
Our progress also comes with challenges. In May, we announced Lawrence campus budgetary concerns and a strategy to align future spending with priorities to support core activities. This required some tough decisions – and will continue to require proactive efforts this year as we build a strategic model to guide budget allocation across campus – but it is enabling us to achieve a quick recovery and build a sustainable budget by next fiscal year. Importantly, we will have gotten through this challenge while limiting the impact on tuition.
Last but not least, thanks to you we continue to see gains in the recruitment and progression of talented and diverse students at KU. I look forward to sharing this year’s enrollment and progression data with you by early October.
Welcome back, Jayhawks. I am excited to get started on another academic year with you.
Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas