Students, faculty, staff:
As interim provost and executive vice chancellor, I am charged with responsibility for ensuring the continued progress of the Lawrence and Edwards campuses. I understand that an interim period can lead to uncertainty, so let me address my priorities between now and when a permanent provost and EVC takes the reins. We’ve made great progress together and there’s more to achieve ahead. I have a handful of priorities for the coming months.
Bold Aspirations Year 5 Areas of Focus
Bold Aspirations, the university’s strategic plan, has delivered improvements in the student learning experience and found ways to use resources more efficiently so we could reinvest in our people, programs, and facilities. This year promises to be challenging, thought provoking, and fulfilling.
In the previous Provost eNews I shared our Diversity Action Items — an amplified and accelerated effort to address inclusion concerns on campus. I encourage students, faculty, and staff to provide their feedback to this initial list by February 15. We will incorporate these items into our Bold Aspirations goal to address campus diversity and climate through a strategic framework as well as a university wide climate study. We are committed to providing a living, learning, and working environment that removes barriers and supports individuals in their pursuit of academic and professional success.
This year we also will work to increase progression and graduation rates of undergraduates to achieve our goal of 90 percent first-year student retention and 70 percent six-year graduation rate by 2022. Our new Vice Provost of Undergraduate Studies DeAngela Burns-Wallace brings energy and ideas and will lead a number of initiatives to improve retention and success. She will oversee KU’s University Innovations Alliance (UIA) project as well as KU’s participation in the UIA’s U.S. Department of Education First In The World research grant — both of which offer restructuring of our advising model to proactively engage students as early as orientation and help them stay on track. And that’s just the beginning. Several Diversity Action Items help underrepresented students make progress as we work to eliminate obstacles to success. We are providing additional opportunities for academic exploration as students choose majors. We are transforming even more courses and providing experiential activities to support deeper learning and greater student achievement.
Through Bold Aspirations we will continue to build enrollment stability by strengthening online instruction and degree options as well as increasing international enrollment and providing academic support for all students. Increasing enrollment and retention, combined with creating and maintaining operational efficiencies will ensure that we weather current and possible future budgetary challenges. We will build our efforts to advance KU research performance and visibility through research clusters and the addition of foundation distinguished professors. And we will create great new spaces to live, learn, work, and innovate through the Central District redevelopment.
I’m committed to open lines of communication to and from the Office of the Provost. Stop by, send an email, or give us a call if there’s something you think this office should address. I look forward to hearing from you.
News and Notes
- Please provide feedback on the Diversity Action Items by February 15 to have it be considered in the next iteration of our effort to improve diversity and inclusion at the University of Kansas.
- Two new additions to the KU family have arrived. DeAngela Burns-Wallace joined KU as vice provost for Undergraduate Studies and Carl Lejuez is the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I am excited about the ideas and experience they are bringing to their respective offices and the university. I also want to thank Vice Provost Tammara Durham and Distinguished Professor Don Steeples for their service as interim leaders during the transition.
- A re-imagined KU Calendar was launched last fall. It’s a great resource to help get the word out about upcoming events. Faculty, staff, and student organizations can contribute events and activities to make the calendar even more robust.
- Watkins Health Services launched the Immediate Care Clinic for faculty and staff. The clinic can treat acute onset problems including respiratory and gastrointestinal issues.
- You can follow construction progress on the Earth, Energy, and Environment Center from anywhere you have an Internet connection. The site features a webcam as well as images of Slawson and Ritchie Halls.
- Congratulations are in order for distinguished professors Val Stella and Bala Subramaniam who were elected to Fellow status in the National Academy of Inventors. KU’s first NAI Fellows will be inducted April 15 during the academy’s annual conference.
- And I must offer a special thank you to KU Opera and University Distinguished Professor Joyce Castle for a novel and emotionally stirring distinguished professor lecture on January 21. The presentation of “Strawberry Fields” was outstanding. Upcoming lectures in the Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series include:
- Foundation Distinguished Professor David Roediger will present “Making ‘Solidarity’ Uneasy: A Keyword and its Discontents” at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, February 23, in Alderson Auditorium of the Kansas Union.