The KU Core Kicks Off

September 3, 2013

Did you feel the change on campus last Monday?  The first day of classes represented a significant milestone in the 150-year history of the University of Kansas — the day KU’s first university-wide undergraduate curriculum went from being new to being now.

The KU Core positions our university as a national leader in undergraduate education.  Our students are pursuing fundamental learning goals and outcomes that prepare them, regardless of their degree, for lifelong learning and success.

Most importantly, the KU Core connects our students with the myriad offerings at a major public, international research university and, unlike many curricula, explicitly encourages students to meet curricular requirements through academically integrated experiences outside the classroom.  Undergraduates and faculty alike benefit by connecting through potentially life-changing experiences like study abroad, undergraduate research, internships, and community projects.

Designing courses to meet KU Core outcomes

Ann Cudd, our new vice provost and dean for undergraduate studies, is working with faculty to design courses and experiences to add to the approximately 1,300 already approved by the University Core Curriculum Committee.  An emphasis on goals and learning outcomes, rather than subject areas, leads to increased collaboration between faculty and students across disciplines. 

One particularly innovative program is Humanities and Western Civilization.  HWC worked closely with the UCCC in adapting its existing courses to meet learning outcomes — including the Goal 1 critical thinking outcome, the Goal 2 written communication outcome, and Goal 6 on creative and integrative learning.  HWC has proposed an innovative approach we refer to as a “course cluster,” which utilizes the flexibility of the KU Core by combining an integrated series of 9–10 credit hours to fulfill multiple learning outcomes.  Such clusters can provide a rich introduction to a multidisciplinary field and exploit synergies between schools and departments.

The Experiential Learning Collaborative has guided the development of KU Core units for study abroad, the service learning certificate, and the Undergraduate Research Experience Program, as well as an innovative way of satisfying Core Goal 5 — social responsibility — through an experience that may be added to any existing course.  The collaborative continues to work closely with the UCCC to develop a vetting process for potential KU Core units that are not course-based.

Finally, our First-Year Seminars program continues to expand, and its offerings satisfy the critical thinking learning outcome.  Each of the 20 seminars for fall 2013 was extremely popular during new freshman orientation. The deadline for fall 2014 FYS proposals is September 30.  Additional information about the First-Year Seminar program and proposal process will be provided at proposal development workshops hosted by the Office of First-Year Experience in collaboration with experienced First-Year Seminar instructors and specialists from the Center for Teaching Excellence and the KU Libraries.

KU has submitted a funding proposal to the Board of Regents to enhance our ongoing transformation of undergraduate education, including expansion of orientation and first-year seminars to the majority of incoming freshmen.  Our proposal would also enhance one of our major priorities for the next year: targeting large-enrollment courses for redesign as hybrid or flipped courses.

A KU Core celebration for faculty

I’m inviting all faculty to “save the date” of Thursday, October 3 at 4:30 p.m. in The Commons for a reception and short program to celebrate the KU Core and the creative ways departments are designing courses and experiences to fulfill learning outcomes.

It will be an opportunity to share food and drink and visit about the KU Core and undergraduate education.  We will also recognize the tremendous work of Chris Haufler, professor and chair of ecology and evolutionary biology, in successfully guiding our campus to meet strategy 1-A of Bold Aspirations through the development of the KU Core.  An invitation with additional information will be distributed soon.

The October 3 event is scheduled in conjunction with a campus visit by well-known assessment consultant Dr. Barbara Walvoord.  Assessment is another important step in enhancing the KU Core.  Dr. Walvoord will lead a number of assessment workshops on October 3 and 4; details appear on the CTE website.

(Kilo)Bits and (Kilo)Bytes

  • A Water Research Workshop on Friday, September 13 from 8 a.m.–1 p.m. at The Commons is an exciting and unique opportunity for the campus to explore a topic related to our strategic initiative themes.  The workshop focuses upon creating a multidisciplinary research initiative and community around the topics of water resources and sustainability.  Karen Flournoy with the Environmental Protection Agency is the keynote presenter, and there will be a pair of breakout sessions to identify KU’s opportunities related to water.  Space is limited and lunch will be provided.  Please RSVP by September 6 at RGS@ku.edu or (785) 864-7240.
  • Sixty-one * new KU faculty members are learning their way around new classrooms and laboratories on the Lawrence campus.  Some brief information on each new faculty member is available online, and I encourage you to seek out these new colleagues and welcome them to KU.  Chancellor Gray-Little and I greatly enjoyed visiting with them at this year’s new faculty orientation.
  • The Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series features a busy first month:
    • Dr. Deborah Blum, the Helen Firstbrook Frankly Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, visited campus last week and gave a fascinating talk Tuesday on the early-day forensics of poison.
    • This Thursday, September 5 at 4 p.m. in the Bruckmiller Room of the Adams Alumni Center, Dr. Akhil Datta-Gupta, who is Regents Professor and the L. F. Peterson ’36 Chair in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University, will present “Towards a Transparent Earth: Subsurface Flow and Transport Tomography”.
    • The Assets and Education Initiative in the School of Social Welfare has attracted national attention with its focus on the relationship between children’s savings and success in college.  Director William Elliott III has organized a four-part speaker series.  Dr. Mark Rank is the keynote speaker for the first event, which takes place Wednesday, September 11 at noon in Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union.
    • On Tuesday, September 24 at 7 p.m. in Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union, Dr. David Roediger, the Kendrick C. Babcock Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will speak on “Emancipation from Below: The Jubilee Slaves Made and Freedom for All.”
  • The 2013–2014 University of Kansas Women of Distinction calendar honors 23 female students, staff, and faculty for outstanding achievements.  A reception for the honorees is being held Tuesday, September 3 from 4–5:30 p.m. in the Big XII Room in the Kansas Union.
  • The important university-wide re-accreditation review by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association will take place in February 2015.  A kickoff event was held last week for the 96 faculty, staff, and students from Lawrence and the Medical Center who have agreed to serve on the five steering committees.  They will prepare a self-study report compiling the accomplishments of KU and evidence that KU has met the criteria for reaccreditation.  The extensive HLC self-study will engage the entire university and provide valuable insights on our progress.
  • We have reached the implementation phase of our HR classification and market study.  Beginning this Friday, information will be shared with the Lawrence campus about Phase I of the implementation plan.  Current staff positions in Phase I will be assigned to revised job titles and salary ranges recommended by the study.  The Phase I job families and current job titles are listed on the study website.
  • The Office of First-Year Experience has done an exemplary job welcoming our many new students and preparing them for the academic experience at KU.  Congratulations to the entire staff and to all of the student orientation assistants and volunteers who have worked so hard to make our new Jayhawks feel at home.
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.

*
Normally this recruiting size would represent a record, but we should qualify it to point out that there were eight additional days in this year’s recruiting season than in past years.  (Happy 52nd anniversary, R.M.)
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