The First 116 Days
Est. reading time: 2 min., 51 sec.
Dear students, staff, and faculty:
A friend of mine says “The days are long, but the years are short,” to explain why when we look back, time seems to have flown by. Today is Day 116 on the job for me and I agree: the days are long but the months seem short!
Accountability and transparency — signs of a willingness to grow and improve — are hallmarks of a strong institution. KU is no exception. I have learned again that our success will boil down to communication, teamwork, and climate.
Communication is key
To listen to the varied experiences of our community, I have had 63 meetings with faculty and staff, 67 meetings with students, addressed 58 groups, attended 83 events, and met with advisory boards for the College, Edwards Campus, our schools of Engineering and Business and several others. Together, we are strengthening lines of communication and it is all thanks to YOU. You are reaching out from every corner of our institution, in person, by email, through social media. Your leadership teams in faculty, staff, and student governance have been open and vital partners in meetings and in follow-up conversations. You are providing invaluable feedback through the new form on the Provost Office website. As one example, when asked for your questions and concerns regarding KU’s draft concealed carry policy, the response was swift and plentiful. These questions and concerns will now help shape the information we provide on our website, form the basis for our FAQs, and inform all our training and education.
We are one team
We have a shared fate and we must work together. We will then have the confidence to run to a problem to deliver solutions rather than running from a problem to avoid blame.
To set the tone at the top, our deans and vice provosts are now coming together every Monday to do a run-through of the week ahead. This is more than sharing information on what is happening in each unit; it’s an opportunity to seek and offer advice and assistance. For example, after hearing from many of you about some issues with shared services, we are working as a team to improve our processes. I am so gratified to lead a team that has already had some wins in working on issues important to our faculty, staff, and students.
At the start of the academic year, I affirmed my commitment to build upon the work of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group. With new leadership, the group has both advocated for marginalized voices and pointed out shortcomings in how we carry out our policies. Earlier this semester, issues of social injustice looked as if they might sidetrack our progress. By being attentive, proactive and responsive, our campus community is showing how embracing social justice and raising awareness help the educational mission of this institution to become even stronger. And, of course, the results from our recent KU Climate Study will help inform our thinking, our decisions, and our actions.
The weeks and months ahead
Many more things have been asked of me and this office. I haven’t forgotten those requests and expectations, and I pledge to focus on them. Ensuring that KU and every human here have opportunities to flourish is a big task. It is too big a task for any one person, but it is no match for all of us, with our combined passion, commitment, and energy.
News & Notes
Thank you to the individuals who have stepped up to serve on the search committees for dean of the School of Business and dean of the School of Social Welfare. As in previous dean searches, there will be opportunities for members of the KU community to interact with finalists as they are identified and interviewed on campus.
The Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Lecture will feature Sarah Deer, fall 2016 visiting professor and MacArthur Fellowship recipient, at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Kansas Union Ballroom. All are welcome to hear her presentation on “Gendering Federal Indian Law.” A reception will follow.
Here’s a belated congratulations to the KU Debate Team and a celebration of the team’s amazing record. Last season, KU Debate won the National Junior Division Debate Tournament and ranked in the top five of the National Debate Tournament Final Varsity Debate Ranking. Rock Chalk!
The annual KU Veterans Day 5K, hosted by the KU Student Veterans of America (SVA) and the KU Alumni Association’s Veterans Alumni Network, begins at 9 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, at Memorial Stadium. The route passes the five war memorials on the Lawrence campus, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of KU's Vietnam War memorial — the first on-campus commemoration in the nation. Those who cannot run or walk but would like to participate can sign up for the Virtual Run/Walk. All proceeds support KU’s Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund, the KU SVA chapter, and the new KU Student Veteran Center.
Foundation Distinguished Professor of Sociology Victor Agadjanian will deliver his distinguished professor inaugural lecture “Those Whom Migrants Leave Behind: Why Should We Care?” at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 10, in the Bruckmiller Room of the Adams Alumni Center.
The Chancellor’s Office is accepting nominations of mid-career faculty members for the annual University Scholarly Achievement Awards. This marquee award recognizes a significant scholarly or research contribution of KU faculty. Completed nominations are due Nov. 18.
KU’s Center for Civic and Social Responsibility will begin accepting applications on Nov. 11 for Spring 2017 Service Learning Mini Grants of $500 for faculty and instructors. Priority deadline is 5 p.m. Dec. 16.
KU Libraries will host a talk by Foundation Distinguished Professor Mark B. Shiflett from 2:30-4 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Haricombe Gallery of Watson Library. Shiflett, in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, will present “Addressing the Grand Challenges with Engineering,” which describes grand challenges facing Earth, such as sustainable energy and access to clean water, and how engineers work to address these issues and find solutions.
KU’s Langston Hughes Center, the Department of African and African-American Studies and Lawrence Public Libraries are hosting an evening with Ibram X. Kendi, author of “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” The event, part of the Diverse Dialogues on Race and Culture series, begins at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.
Kudos to KU faculty for their work to highlight the long-term challenges of student debt. As recently reported in Politico.com, research from Associate Professor of Social Welfare William Elliott and Assistant Professor of Sociology Emily Rauscher shows that an additional $10,000 of student debt is linked to a 26 percent decrease in the rate of achieving median net worth.
KU faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend public presentations from candidates for director of the University Press of Kansas. Stephen Hull, acquisitions editor, University Press of New England/ForeEdge trade books, will present on Nov. 9. Paul E. Schellinger, independent developmental editor and publishing consultant, will present on Nov. 15. Both presentations, on the topic “Casting a Vision for the Future of the University Press of Kansas,” begin at 2:30 p.m. in Watson Library 3 West. More information about the candidates can be found on the Provost Office website. Recordings of the public presentations and feedback forms will be available online after the visits.
Over the next two weeks the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the KU Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO) will present “Portraits of Latinx Identity” to increase awareness, move beyond stereotypes and showcase the diversity of KU’s Latina/o community. The organizations will host an exhibit of portraits of KU’s Latinx community shot by photography graduate student Chris Ortiz. The show runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in the Kansas Union Gallery. There will also be a roundtable discussion with students, faculty, and staff at 4 p.m., Nov. 10, in Alderson Auditorium of the Kansas Union.