Looking Back on Year 1 of Bold Aspirations

October 22, 2012

Looking Back on Year 1 of Bold Aspirations

Whenever I speak to groups about the University of Kansas, our state’s flagship institution, I mention our vision — to be recognized as a top-tier public international research university.  Whether it is conversing with a small group of alumni gathered at the Paramour coffee shop in Wamego, or in front of a large crowd filling the Lied Center for Convocation, it is always uplifting to share our big, bold plans for the future.

The KU strategic plan Bold Aspirations is our blueprint for success.  For a year now, we have been implementing its goals and strategies, and on behalf of the implementation team and the entire KU community, I am pleased to present our first Bold Aspirations Annual Report.  A PDF has been posted online, and printed copies are available in the Provost’s Office.

The report covers the period from the launch of the plan in mid-September 2011 through June 2012.  It represents an important milestone.  While we remain focused on what we have yet to accomplish, we can also take pride in areas where KU has already been transformed.  We have set a strong foundation upon which we will continue to build during the next four years.

Major accomplishments of year 1

Last September, the Bold Aspirations implementation team, chaired by Sara Rosen, senior vice provost for academic affairs, identified five key strategies to focus upon during the first year.  The progress achieved by the KU community in each area is outstanding and noteworthy:

  • Establish a new KU Core curriculum.  Through a broad campus effort, culminating with the work of the six satellite committees and the transition committee, we have the foundation for our first university-wide KU Core Curriculum, based upon education goals and learning outcomes.
  • Strengthen the pipeline of undergraduates.  The 5.3% increase in frosh class size to 3,771, our first-ever average ACT score of over 25, and the most diverse entering class to date are good indications that our new scholarship and recruiting program is building a strong pipeline of undergraduates.
  • Invest in first-year intellectual experiences.   In the previous Provost eNews, I noted several exciting things happening in the new Office of First-Year Experience.
  • Develop sustainable funding for doctoral education.  We have completed KU’s first comprehensive review of how doctoral education is funded across the Lawrence campus.
  • Pursue multidisciplinary strategic initiatives.  Our four strategic initiative themes are guiding our research in myriad ways — from the four successful summits to our first Strategic Initiative Grants to our 2012 faculty hires, 30 of whom are connected with the themes.

I encourage you to review the annual report for additional narratives on each of our areas of focus.  We have made progress across each of the six goals outlined in Bold Aspirations, and a brief summary for each goal is also part of the annual report.

Finally, the last pages of the report are dedicated to metrics we use to measure our progress. A sample for each goal is in the published report, while a full list is posted online.

Moving forward in year 2

As we continue our progress in moving forward, we will focus on six selected areas of Bold Aspirations for the upcoming year:

  • Establish a new KU Core curriculum.  The University Core Curriculum Committee will identify the courses and experiences that count toward the KU Core Curriculum and launch it for all incoming freshmen as well as for those students who “opt in” for fall 2013.
  • Redesign courses to enhance student learning.  The Center for Teaching Excellence and the Center for Online and Distance Learning will work with individual faculty members and their departments to aid in the development of hybrid “flipped” courses to encourage active learning, with priority for our gateway courses.
  • Develop sustainable funding for doctoral education.  Thomas Heilke, dean of graduate studies, will build upon the recent report on how doctoral education is funded to create a three-year plan with targeted action items.
  • Pursue multidisciplinary strategic initiatives.  Our strategic initiative themes will guide our first Foundation Professor hires, cluster hires, and selections for the Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series.
  • Promote active entrepreneurship and vibrant external partnerships.  I am working closely with the KU Center for Technology Commercialization to engage the KU community with businesses and community organizations and to expand entrepreneurial activities.
  • Developing Infrastructure and Resources.  We continue to move forward with Changing for Excellence and our capital campaign Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas.

The annual report provides a narrative with complete information on how we will implement each strategy.  It is an aggressive second-year agenda that touches upon a number of important areas of the university.

Bits and Bytes

Each week, I’ll close Provost eNews with “Bits and Bytes.”  (OK, it’s not the greatest name for the section, but I’m open to suggestions.)

  • Congratulations to Dean Neeli Bendapudi and the School of Business on the $20 million lead gift by the Capitol Federal Foundation for construction of a new business building.
  • On Thursday, October 25, the Center for Online and Distance Learning is hosting a “Lunch & Learn session” at noon in Alcove D in the Kansas Union.  The topic is “A Closer Look at the Hybrid Master of Social Work (MSW).”
  • Campus Sustainability Week runs today through Friday with a variety of events across campus hosted by the Center for Sustainability.
  • Please continue to assist and support recruitment efforts and remind high school seniors to apply for admission and scholarship consideration by next week’s November 1 deadline.
  • Finally, I encourage you to bookmark http://kucore.ku.edu/committee.shtml to stay up to date on the meetings of the University Core Curriculum Committee as it approves courses and experiences for the KU Core.  Minutes from previous meetings and the most current agenda will be updated frequently.
Strong Ties Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

--
Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

This issue of Provost eNews as well as past ones can be found on the Provost eNews web page.

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