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.

Happy Kansas Day, Kansans! We caught sunflowers standing tall at the Grinter Family Farms just outside Lawrence last fall. You may wonder how the sunflower came to be the State flower in 1903 and we found an excerpt from Kansas legislation: Whereas, Kansas has a native wild flower common throughout her borders, hardy and conspicuous, of definite, unvarying and striking shape, easily sketched, moulded, and carved, having armorial capacities, ideally adapted for artistic reproduction, with its strong, distinct disk and its golden circle of clear glowing rays -- a flower that a child can draw on a slate, a woman can work in silk, or a man can carve on stone or fashion in clay; and Whereas, This flower has to all Kansans a historic symbolism which speaks of frontier days, winding trails, pathless prairies, and is full of the life and glory of the past, the pride of the present, and richly emblematic of the majesty of a golden future, and is a flower which has given Kansas the world-wide name, "the sunflower state"... Be it enacted ... that the helianthus or wild native sunflower is ... designated ... the state flower and floral emblem of the state of Kansas.

Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See http://bit.ly/1xjjwJj). For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See http://bit.ly/1BoL9jv) The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (http://bit.ly/14fiBPl), associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.


Green Office

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