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Building Healthy Communities Through Collaboration

November 18, 2013

A unique component of our strategic planning process three years ago was the call for proposals to address grand challenges where KU brings unique strengths and capabilities.  The most compelling of these proposals were distilled into the four strategic initiative themes in our strategic plan Bold Aspirations.  They all address societal issues that require multidisciplinary collaboration across campus and with external partners, because no one discipline has all the answers. 

The I-70 Corridor Conference on Interdisciplinary Aging Research held earlier this month is one example of how KU is addressing the third strategic initiative theme — Building Communities, Expanding Opportunities — through collaboration across disciplines and with other universities.  The conference attracted nearly 60 researchers from nine universities along I-70 from locations ranging from St. Louis, Missouri to Manhattan, Kansas.

The conference was supported by a Level II Strategic Initiative Grant awarded to organizer Dennis Domer, director of the New Cities Project, and his colleagues David Ekerdt, professor of sociology, and Susan Kemper, Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Psychology.

We are continuing to provide similar seed funding to several other groups of KU faculty and staff in order to propel their efforts toward the strategic initiatives.  Creating new research opportunities on our campus and at partner institutions will help us fulfill our mission of educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

Collaborations across the state and around the world

Partnerships occur in a variety of ways.  Since 2008, KU has partnered with Johnson County and Kansas State University in the Johnson County Education Research Triangle, supported by Johnson County voters through a 1/8 cent sales tax.  The sales tax funds the KU Clinical Research Center in Fairway, the National Food and Animal Health Institute at K-State Olathe, and the BEST building at the KU Edwards Campus.

Over the next two decades, collaboration within the Triangle is expected to generate an economic impact of over $1.4 billion through greater education opportunities and multidisciplinary research efforts that position the region as a leader in technology, cancer, and food safety.

Conversations that started at the KU Water Research Workshop in September are continuing as smaller groups meet to discuss partnerships and funding opportunities to support water research initiatives.  Several of the participants, including researches from the Kansas Biological Survey and the Kansas Geological Survey, presented at the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas Oct. 24–25 in Manhattan.

KU has hosted conferences this year that have attracted experts worldwide.  In May, more than 700 scholars from around the world spent a week in Lawrence for the 10th biennial conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment.  They were hosted by Paul Outka, associate professor of English and president of the association.

The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) hosted the International Glaciological Society’s 2013 International Symposium on Radioglaciology in September.  Nearly 100 researchers from 30 universities and research institutes participated.

Bold Aspirations Visitor & Lecture Series

One of the presenters at the International Symposium on Radioglaciology, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, recently completed a three-month stay at KU as part of the Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series.  The series has attracted dozens of internationally renowned researchers to KU since its launch last fall, creating new possibilities for exciting collaborations and partnerships.

Two such visitors are on campus today, and following their parallel presentations the Office of the Provost will host a joint reception open to all in the Commons at 5 p.m.:

  • David Miller, professor of cell and developmental biology and biological sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will present “Genomic Approaches to Neuron Morphogenesis and Remodeling” at 3:30 p.m. in room 1005 in Haworth Hall.
  • Matthias Groszer of the INSERM Institut du Fer à Moulin at the University Pierre & Marie Curie in Paris will present his lecture “Neurodevelopmental disorders — molecular perspectives” at 4 p.m. in the Commons.

Five other lectures in the series are scheduled for the remainder of the semester:

  • Douglas Walker, the Union Pacific Resources Distinguished Professor of Geology, will present his inaugural lecture “Adventures in Digital Geology — Trying to Make the Long Tail Shorter” on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the Kansas Room in the Kansas Union.
  • Irena Lasiecka, University Distinguished Professor and chair of mathematics at the University of Memphis, is visiting campus as part of the Department of Mathematics Ellis B. Stouffer Department Colloquium. She will speak on “Long time behavior of solutions to ow-structure interactions arising in modeling of subsonic and supersonic flows of gas” on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. in Snow Hall.
  • William D. Picking, professor and head of microbiology and molecular genetics at Oklahoma State University, will present “Enteric Diseases: Our role in improving global public health” on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 3:30 p.m. in the Bruckmiller Room of the Adams Alumni Center with a reception following in the All-American Room. Dr. Picking earned his Ph.D. in microbiology from KU in 1989.
  • Dr. David Roediger, the Kendrick C. Babcock Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will speak on “Disability, Emancipation, and the U.S. Civil War” on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 4 p.m. at the Commons.
  • Chris Beard, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, will speak on “Into Africa: A Pivotal Step in Primate and Human Evolution” on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 3:30 p.m. at the Commons.

Bits and Bytes

  • The search committee for a new director of the Center for Teaching Excellence invites applications and nominations for the position.  The new director will begin on July 1, 2014, to take over for Dan Bernstein, who has ably led CTE as director for the last 11 years.  Applicants are encouraged to apply by January 31, 2014.
  • I’d like to remind all faculty and staff to complete mandatory training on sexual violence and sexual harassment.  The brief online training titled “Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment: NOT ON OUR CAMPUS!” will only take about 15 minutes.  It must be completed by November 22, 2013.  This training will improve our campus environment and will satisfy federal compliance obligations to ensure that every employee has completed the training.
  • Robinson Center, the KU Staff & Faculty Exercise Program, and students in the “Psychological Aspects of Exercise” course are hosting a Feel Good Fitness Day on Wednesday, Nov. 20 beginning at 11 a.m. on the second floor of Robinson Center.  There will be information on the faculty and staff exercise program, health resources, giveaways, and free food and drinks.  The students have made improvements in several aspects of the program and will be available to answer questions and lead tours of the facilities.

    Roy Chin, a 1988 KU electrical engineering graduate and serial entrepreneur, will lead the free workshop entitled “Regulatory & Reimbursement: Issues You Need to Know Now” on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 9 a.m. in the Apollo Room at Nichols Hall, followed by lunch for participants.  The presentation is the third and final installment of this fall’s entrepreneurship “boot camp” series sponsored by KU Innovation & Collaboration.  It is open to KU faculty, staff, students and the invited public. Please RSVP by November 22 to Bethany Scothorn at 864-6457.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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