Authorized University Cluster Hires

To date, three University Cluster Hires of varying sizes have been authorized:

  • A cluster on the topic of water quality and resources consisting of eight new faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of Engineering, and the School of Law;
  • A cluster on the development of therapeutic proteins and vaccines involving three new faculty members in the School of Pharmacy and the School of Engineering; and
  • An Enhancing Energy cluster of six new faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering.

Water Resources: Integrating Science, Technology, Culture, and Management
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, School of Law

The proposal builds upon strengths identified across the College and two schools and the Kansas Biological Survey and Kansas Geological Survey, particularly tied to the strategic initiative themes Sustaining the Planet, Powering the World and Building Communities, Expanding Opportunities.

The proposed hires would build a workforce prepared to engage multiple stakeholders that will help resolve inevitable conflicts concerning water across diverse sectors of society; attract faculty needed to develop new degree programs and build multidisciplinary research programs tied to the strategic initiative themes; and build a cohesive multidisciplinary team capable of winning major grants and forming innovative new partnerships with both private and public partners.

There is current expertise already identified at KU, and six recent hires in departments in the College (History, Public Affairs and Administration, Geography, Sociology, and Geology) and one in the School of Law have laid an important base for increasing expertise in assessment of the environmental, social, and cultural dynamics of water and related resources.  With this University Cluster Hire, KU can occupy a place among a select group of universities that boast a truly integrated and multidisciplinary approach to water resources research, training, and the production of “actionable scholarship.”

Eight faculty searches over two academic years are included in the water cluster: Four of the new faculty will join departments in the College (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geology, Geography, and English); one will be jointly appointed in Environmental Studies in the College and in the Kansas Biological Survey; two will join departments in the School of Engineering (Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering); and one will join the School of Law. Five of the new positions are funded by the College, two by state funds for the School of Engineering Expansion, and one by central funds provided through Changing for Excellence.


Energizing Energy: Producing the Energy Resource, Solving Associated Challenges with Water, Understanding Public Perception
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering

The proposal coordinates 13 new faculty positions to address the urgency highlighted in the strategic initiative theme Sustaining the Planet, Powering the World, focusing specifically on technology and social questions related to the extraction of fossil fuels from unconventional reservoirs. The plan builds upon strengths in Geology and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and adds a new dimension to energy research and education by including Social Psychology to address the public perceptions related to energy and environment.

This University Cluster Hire focuses on developing KU strengths that can build KU’s national stature, meet the cross-disciplinary teaching and research needs for understanding energy in the 21st century, grow industry partnerships, and graduate larger numbers of students prepared to fill projected workforce shortages.

The 13 cluster positions include recent faculty hires in departments in the College (Geology, Sociology, Environmental Studies, Public Affairs and Administration), the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in the School of Engineering, and the Kansas Biological Survey); and two faculty searches that are underway in Geology.  An additional six faculty searches will occur over three academic years to complete the Enhancing Energy Cluster.

Of the future searches,  three faculty will join departments in the College (Geology, Psychology, and Mathematics) and two will join the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. Funding for one position is provided by the College, for two positions by the state as part of the engineering expansion, and two by central funding. The sixth search will be for a Foundation Professor to lead the cluster with support provided by the state Foundation Professor funds. 


University Cluster Hire with focus on the Development of Therapeutic Proteins and Vaccines
School of Pharmacy, School of Engineering

This proposal addresses the strategic initiative theme Promoting Well Being, Finding Cures. The area of therapeutic proteins and vaccines represents the fastest growing area in pharmaceutical research and development in the US and worldwide. It has enormous potential to enable the prevention, cure, or management of infectious diseases and other pathological conditions such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and autoimmune disorders.

KU has many existing strengths in this area, primarily through the Macromolecular and Vaccine Stabilization Center which currently attracts several million dollars annually in support. It is expected through this University Cluster Hire,support for vaccine-related research activities at KU would double. In addition, this cluster proposal builds on the strength of current faculty in the School of Pharmacy, the School of Engineering, and the College, including two recent hires in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and one in Molecular Biosciences.

The Recruitment of a Foundation Professor in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, supported by state Foundation Professor funding, is a key part of this proposal. This position will be complemented by four additional positions: one in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering supported by state engineering expansion funds; two in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, one funded by the School of Pharmacy and one by central funds; and one research faculty member in the Vaccine Center.  Searches for these positions will occur over two academic years and will include a school-funded distinguished professor. This cluster will foster collaborations across KU, the KU Cancer Center, and National Bio- and Agro- Defense Facility, and facilitate global health and education initiatives. 

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