Welcome back to campus, Jayhawks


I hope you had the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate during our winter break, and that you’re ready for another productive year as a member of our university community.

With the academic semester now underway, I would like to preview a few highlights for the spring and update you on key initiatives across the university.

Health and safety

The ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases continues to affect our campuses and communities. While this is a cause of concern, our university is well prepared for what may come in the days ahead.

First and foremost, we continue to benefit from highly vaccinated employee and student populations and a strong culture of mask wearing on our campuses. Additionally, the strategies we’ve pursued for the past two years have effectively enabled us to remain open to serve our students and state. We’ll continue to employ these strategies and modify them as needed.

The best way to protect yourself and those around you is to be vaccinated. If you haven’t yet been vaccinated or boosted, please consider doing so. Vaccinations are available throughout our local communities.

Strategic planning

This semester, the Jayhawks Rising strategic plan for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses moves from development to implementation. I want to thank all of you who have contributed to the plan so far. Expect to hear more from Provost Bichelmeyer in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, the medical center is beginning the process of updating its existing strategic plan to ensure it is on track to meet goals and aligns with the Jayhawks Rising plan.

Additionally, we will soon share a new economic development strategy for our university, which will align us with the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Board of Regents to ensure KU continues to drive economic growth in Kansas.

Research Excellence

As a leading research institution and member of the Association of American Universities, we must continue to empower research-productive faculty and strengthen the culture of research at KU.

Later this spring, we will host our second annual University Research Awards event, which will bring together winners of our top research awards from across all KU campuses. These awards include the University Scholarly Achievement Awards, the Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Awards, the KU Research Staff and Postdoctoral Achievement Awards, and others.

Additionally, we look forward to naming our first Research Rising award winners from the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

Government relations

The Kansas Legislature convened last week, with Governor Kelly recommending significant funding increases for higher education. We fully support her recommendations, and we will spend the coming months advocating for lawmakers to include these proposals in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.

In Washington D.C., we continue to work with lawmakers and our peers in the AAU and APLU on issues of importance to higher education, including intellectual property, research funding and access to higher education.

Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging

Please join me in recognizing the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and embracing it as an opportunity to reflect on our efforts to make KU a welcoming place for all. Though the official holiday was yesterday, there are opportunities to recognize Dr. King’s legacy throughout the week on both the Lawrence and medical center campuses.

Facilities and campus expansion

In addition to investing in people and programs, we will continue to improve and expand our physical campuses.

This spring we look forward to completing our newest KU Innovation Park facility, which will enhance engagement with tech-based companies on campus. Work continues on the Jayhawk Welcome Center, which will serve as the focal point for prospective student visits in Lawrence and enhance our recruitment efforts.

Additionally, in partnership with Wichita State University, we are exploring opportunities to develop a new health care campus in Wichita to continue our 50-year legacy of educating health care practitioners and providing health care access for that city.

Donor and alumni support

The support of our friends and donors continues to be crucial to the university. With this in mind, we look forward to celebrating our fifth annual One Day. One KU giving campaign February 17. Since its inception in 2018, this event has raised nearly $7 million through 13,184 gifts to support programs and initiatives across all KU campuses.

Thank you

Welcome back, Jayhawks. I am excited to join you for another semester of education, service and research on behalf the state and society we serve.



Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas