Welcome back to campus, Jayhawks. I want to wish you well as we begin a new year and return from a holiday break that hopefully provided an opportunity to rest and recharge. The new academic term also provides us with a chance to examine what lies ahead.
Before we begin, I want to take a moment to encourage our community to participate in upcoming celebrations of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Though the official holiday was yesterday, we have announced a number of opportunities to recognize Dr. King’s legacy in the week ahead, beginning with a march along Jayhawk Boulevard today. These community events, and others throughout the semester, provide an opportunity not just to honor Dr. King, but also to reflect on our university’s important focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We should seek to remember his words and actions far beyond this week, as we concentrate on our efforts to make our university a welcoming place for all.
Last week, the Kansas Legislature began a new session with new Governor Laura Kelly’s first State of the State address and the release of her budget recommendations for the next year. Governor Kelly has proposed an additional $8.9 million for public higher education. This amounts to an additional $2.8 million for the University of Kansas – including $1.5 million for Lawrence and $1.3 million for KU Medical Center. She has also proposed a 2.5 percent state employee pay increase plan that includes university employees. We appreciate Governor Kelly’s support for additional higher education funding in her budget proposal, and we look forward to working with her and the Kansas Legislature to continue on the funding restoration path. State funding for KU has declined $28 million since 2008, and the governor’s proposal constitutes a step in the right direction to ensure KU can continue to meet the needs of Kansans and drive prosperity in our state.
Of course, private donations make up an important part of our annual budget too, with capital grants and gifts comprising about 9 percent of our overall funds received each year. This year, we will build on last year’s successful One Day. One KU. 24-hour giving campaign, which raised more than $734,000 for KU. Look for more information soon on the second annual event, scheduled for Feb. 20.
Also this spring, our students will join those from 32 other schools in the Association of American Universities to participate in a national survey on sexual assault and misconduct. This confidential survey is expected to be among the largest of its kind, and I encourage all of us to highlight its importance among our students once the survey launches in a few weeks.
As our semester begins, I also want to take a moment to thank Carl Lejuez, interim provost and vice chancellor, and many others across the Lawrence campus for their continued work to implement a new budget model. I have paid close attention to this effort, and it has my full support. Moving forward, this new model will prioritize our people and programs while allowing for more strategic financial planning. As that work continues, I am confident that it will improve our fiscal decision-making and strengthen our university.
Thank you all for your continued efforts to elevate our university and, more broadly, our society. As always, I look forward to what we will accomplish together.
Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas