Strategic Initiative Summits

Synergies Around Bold Ideas

At KU, our core mission is to educate leaders, build healthy communities, and make discoveries that will change the world. While our mission is comprehensive, we have a tremendous opportunity and obligation to develop synergies across several parts of the university where we have particularly strong combined strength and potential.

Our four strategic initiative themes offer stellar opportunities to enhance our research excellence and visibility by addressing emerging and escalating grand challenges of crucial significance both for Kansas and globally.



A key aspect of the strategic plan is the focused investment in some big, bold ideas where KU can harness its unique assets to help make the world a better place. The four strategic initiative themes — referenced earlier but presented here in more detail — grew out of a bottom-up response to a campus-wide request for proposals. The objectives were several:

  • To address emerging and escalating global grand challenges and societal issues where KU has special capabilities;
  • To build scholarly communities that challenge, engage, and inspire individuals from many disciplines around a common theme;
  • To enhance KU's national and international visibility and impact;
  • To engage and motivate funding agencies, foundations, state government, community, alumni, and friends to provide much-needed resources; and
  • To provide our students with unique experiences that will position them as highly recruited and valued drivers and innovators of social and technological change.

A total of 104 proposals were submitted by February 28, 2011. A full vetting of the proposals, as described in the introduction of this document, resulted in the following four strategic initiative themes and the co-chairs who have agreed to form planning groups to organize and convene the summit.

These themes represent KU's highest priorities for research investment during the coming five years. Each theme statement is described in more detail in the following pages and includes a set of "bold exemplars" derived from some of the submitted proposals.

During the 2011–2012 academic year, each strategic initiative theme will be the subject of an open, on-campus summit. The format for these meetings is now taking shape, and faculty members have been chosen to plan and lead them. The summits will help form research networks, identify funding opportunities and faculty leaders, strategize about needed infrastructure, and inform priorities for future faculty hiring.

Bold Aspirations

Bold Aspirations is the strategic plan for KU, comprising individual plans for the following:

Policy Library Search

Visit the Policy Office for more information.

When looking to tackle the issue of obesity in rural America, where should we start? The answer is not what you might think. Empathy, says Christie Befort, an associate professor at KU who has just won a $10 million award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to investigate solutions to rural obesity. Many physicians are embarrassed talking about weight—especially in a small town where everybody knows each other, Befort says. By providing obesity treatment options in rural primary care, she plans to start a conversation, and maybe a revolution, in rural health care. For more details on Befort's efforts, check out the 2015 Chancellor's Report: http://bit.ly/1D5A5MO and her video: http://bit.ly/1C5xYZa Tags: #KUcommunities #Obesity #Health #Rural #Midwest Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute - PCORI

Explore KU: Experience a KU Men's Basketball tradition It’s explosive. It’s dramatic. It’s intimidating. It’s a KU tradition (see more at http://bit.ly/KUtraditions) simply known as the Confetti Toss. But it creates a primal eruption of fan enthusiasm at the opening of every KU men’s basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse. It starts as the visiting team is introduced on court. The KU student section is visibly bored and unimpressed. The entire section under the north basket holds up University Daily Kansans — making the point they’d rather read the newspaper than even look at the other team. They shake and rustle the student newspapers. Then the moment they were waiting for arrives — the Jayhawks enter the court. All Rock Chalk breaks loose. Newspapers, confetti and thousands of thundering voices soar into already charged atmosphere of KU’s hallowed basketball arena. The confetti hits its high point, near the banner on the north wall reading “Pay Heed, All Who Enter: Beware of the Phog.” And the confetti rains back into the stands, onto the court and into the memories of all at hand. It’s time to play.


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Why KU
  • One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
  • 26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
  • Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
  • 46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
    —ALA
  • 23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times