Reflecting on a remarkable semester


As final exams conclude and we pause for the holidays, please join me in reflecting on our achievements from the past semester. As always, there is much to celebrate, thanks to you.

Strategic planning and reaccreditation

This fall we finalized metrics for our university strategic plan, which encompasses campus-specific plans for both Lawrence and KU Medical Center. In addition to serving as a roadmap for our university, this plan is important to external partners – such as the AAU and the Kansas Board of Regents – and to the Higher Learning Commission, which will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of KU in 2025. I want to thank those of you who are contributing your energy to this important HLC process.


Before we can educate students, we must first do the work to recruit them to KU. This fall we were proud to welcome our largest freshman class since 2008 and the most talented and diverse class in KU history. Excitingly, next semester we will enhance our recruitment efforts when we open the new Jayhawk Welcome Center, which will be among the best such centers nationally. 

Also this fall we launched Jayhawk Global, which positions us to educate more students – wherever they may be – with remote learning opportunities. Additionally, this fall we continued to develop a new health education campus in Wichita to train health care practitioners for Kansas communities.

Service and outreach

Part of KU’s mission is to build healthy communities. This fall we enhanced our ability to provide outstanding patient care through the KU Cancer Center, which earned the most prestigious national designation from the National Cancer Institute. This achievement establishes KU among the nation’s elite cancer institutions and ensures Kansans can get the best treatments without leaving the region.

Additionally, this semester KU Medical Center researchers earned a $12 million grant from the NIH to develop the Kansas Center for Metabolism and Obesity Research, which seeks to unify research efforts in human obesity and obesity-related disease.


This fall we continued to produce excellent research to benefit our state and society. In September, KU Medical Center announced a $27 million grant renewal from the NIH for our Frontiers Clinical and Translational Science Institute. In Lawrence, four Research Rising teams began recruiting new faculty and other experts to bolster KU’s prominence in key areas with potential for major societal impact.

We also celebrated accolades for two outstanding faculty members: Akinlolu Ojo, executive dean of our medical school, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine; and Steven Prohira, assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, was named a MacArthur Fellow.

Facilities and campus improvements

This fall we continued to improve our university with new and enhanced facilities. In addition to the abovementioned Jayhawk Welcome Center and health education campus in Wichita, in August we opened a new facility in our KU Innovation Park, which is now home to more than 60 companies. In October our Spencer Museum of Art reopened with newly renovated spaces. Also in October, we announced a transformational project near the intersection of 11th and Mississippi streets that will create a new campus gateway, convention and event space, and enhanced football facilities.


This fall, we were reminded that a strong athletics department benefits our university by driving enrollment, alumni engagement and revenue for academic programming. Under the leadership of Coach Lance Leipold, our football team had its best season in 13 years, resulting in three stadium sellouts, a chance to host ESPN College GameDay, and an invitation to the Liberty Bowl. Meanwhile, our men’s and women’s basketball teams are off to a combined 18-1 start, and both are ranked in the Top 25, leading to this fun stat: As of today, KU is one of only seven universities with nationally ranked men’s and women’s basketball teams and a football team headed to a bowl game.

Additionally, we saw good news in October with the Big 12 Conference finalizing a new media rights deal that stabilizes the conference and enhances KU’s position in the collegiate athletics landscape.

Thank you

Certainly, along with these successes, we experienced our share of challenges this fall — which is to be expected and embraced. As always, I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the successes and address the challenges alongside Jayhawks like you. You are what makes this place special, and for that, you have my deepest appreciation.

I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.