Strong Ties: Tapping Into KU's 'Hidden' Assets
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Dear students, staff, and faculty:
Just before the start of the fall semester, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies DeAngela Burns-Wallace shared a jaw-dropping picture with KU’s senior leadership. The image was a spaghetti-like diagram connecting dozens of resources and activities across campus that help undergraduate students graduate or impact their progress. The chart revealed the unintended complexity of navigating success services and put a spotlight on the challenges many students face in figuring out how and where to access the tools they may need to succeed. The services are KU’s buried treasure — valuable resources hidden in plain view for all to see.
The good news is Burns-Wallace and campus partners are untangling the maze and gently guiding students toward success. Undergraduate Studies, the units that compose it, and additional campus offices are placing renewed emphasis on engagement activities and resources that are known to be critical to student achievement — activities such as early intervention, empowering academic advising and newly crafted programs like Emerging Scholars.
The Emerging Scholars Program, coordinated through the Center for Undergraduate Research, is particularly promising in that it addresses several concerns that are at the root of student success. Often we see truly talented students who struggle to participate in research activities because they need a job to help cover living expenses. Emerging Scholars places selected work-study eligible, first-year students in a paid, on-campus research position that begins their first semester and is related to their academic interest. It also pairs each student with a faculty mentor who can offer academic and career advice that helps the student navigate the college experience. Professional development opportunities and regular meetings with peers, peer mentors, and staff round out this exceptional program. The size and strength of the applicant pool exceeded expectations so we found funding to double the size of the program in its inaugural year.
I have great faith that Emerging Scholars and other efforts through Undergraduate Studies and across campus will help KU continue to improve our retention and progression rates, which are especially important for some of our more vulnerable student populations.
In the future we will help even more KU students persist in their academic careers and complete their degrees. We’re working on programs that pull together existing resources in an intentional, coordinated fashion that includes:
- Summer acceleration — a jump start on degree completion for first-year students
- Academic coaches — peers who can help students advance study skills, establish personal goals and develop strategies that foster persistence
- Experiential learning and funding — programs that enrich learning and career exploration
- Exposure to community leaders as mentors — helping students develop through access to the boardroom as well as the classroom
- Community service and engagement — helping students connect with their programs, their passions, and each other.
Right now, we can make even greater advances together. Each of us — whether faculty member, staff, or fellow student — can play a larger role, both formally and informally, in helping students stay motivated and connected to the resources they need. In the weeks ahead, if you suspect a student could benefit, reach out and lend a guiding hand to help them find our hidden gems. KU is truly rich because of your commitment and involvement.
News and Notes
Students are invited to a forum on the KU Chancellor search from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. today, in Alderson Auditorium of the Kansas Union. KU alumnus Dave Dillon, chair of the KU Chancellor Search Committee, will host the forum, which specifically seeks input from students.
Searches are underway for both the Dean of the School of Social Welfare and the Dean of the School of Business. As the semester continues, look for announcements inviting participation in campus visits by candidates as well as opportunities to provide feedback after their presentations.
Foundation Distinguished Professor of History Beth Bailey will deliver her inaugural distinguished professor lecture “The U.S. Army and the ‘Problem of Race’” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, in the Jayhawk Room of the Kansas Union.
The 2nd Annual International Jayhawk Festival will celebrate KU’s international engagement and diverse community on Thursday, Feb. 2, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Daisy Hill Commons. The festival includes a Global Issues Teach-In, cultural activities, performances, and an info fair. All KU students, staff, and faculty are welcome. After the festival, the Kansas African Studies Center and First-Year Experience will host a screening of “Welcome to Shelbyville.”
The Kansas Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa presents visiting scholar Nora Naranjo Morse at 5:30 p.m., Feb. 9, at the Spencer Museum of Art. Morse is a sculptor, writer and producer of videos that look at the continuing social changes within Pueblo Indian culture.
Congratulations are in order for Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education. Zhao was ranked at 16th in the 2017 Edu-Scholar Public Influence Ranking just published by Education Week.
Students can apply to attend the annual Colors of KU program organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The program takes place Feb. 3 to 5 and helps participants build a foundational understanding of multiculturalism.
Sixteen students in the School of Pharmacy took part in a tour of independent pharmacies across Kansas during the winter break. The tour is one of many ways the school is engaging with professionals, alumni, prospective students, and Kansas citizens in meaningful ways.
The Power of Sport: A Conversation on Business, Race and Sports is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Feb. 2. This year’s event features sports sociologist Harry Edwards, and KU alumni Tamecka Dixon and Billy Mills. The event is free, although registration is required.
Nominations for the Christopher Haufler KU Core Innovation Award are due Feb. 1. The $5,000 award honors the creative academic work of departments in transforming core courses, assessing outcomes and disseminating models of excellence.
There’s still time to nominate an outstanding student for the KU Student Employee of the Year Award. Nominees can be at the undergraduate or graduate level, but must be enrolled through the spring 2017 semester. The winning student receives a $500 award. Nominations are due Jan. 31. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.