A Matter of Change
Dear students, staff, and faculty:
“Things change. The only constant is change.” This message comes to us in every generation and from every corner of the world. Whether it is the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu telling us, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes,” or the Book of Ecclesiastes reminding us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,” or even the Grammy-award winning recording artist Taylor Swift tweeting, “This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change,” it remains true that change is inevitable.
There are only three things we can do in regard to change—resist it, embrace it, or create it.
At the University of Kansas today, we are embracing a period of great change. I wanted to take a moment today to share with you a few more leadership transitions that you will see throughout the semester. With active searches for a new chancellor and two deans, there will be a new dynamic of leadership at KU by the summer. It is often true that in times of great change, there is great fear or uncertainty. However, we are one team and an incredible community of supportive leaders and scholars. For us, moments of change inspire feelings of hope and possibility for what’s next and gratefulness for what has been. Therefore, we will also have an opportunity to work together to create positive change.
A Heartfelt Thank You
For the last three years, Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity Nate Thomas led the system-wide Office of Diversity and Equity at the University of Kansas. Through his leadership, KU has enhanced its commitment to diversity in many significant ways. This past fall, we conducted our first system-wide climate survey that will inform our actions on diversity, equity, and inclusion work for years to come. Additionally, through his efforts, we have seen the campus commitment to becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive expand in innumerable ways.
I’m sad to announce that Vice Provost Thomas will be moving on to other opportunities outside of the university. We wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors and send our deepest thanks to him for his contributions to KU. I have appointed Jennifer Hamer, associate dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor and chair of the department of American Studies, as the acting vice provost for Diversity and Equity effective February 13 to ensure we continue to deliver on our commitment to diversity.
In addition, I want to thank Vice Provost of Faculty Development Mary Lee Hummert, who has announced she is returning to her faculty role in the fall. Over more than a decade, Mary Lee has been a tireless advocate for faculty progression and has increased opportunities for faculty to enhance their skills to become better teachers and scholars, worked with department chairs on best practices, and prepared numerous faculty members for university leadership through the Senior Administrative Fellows. Her work has touched faculty members at every level in every school and college, and has helped ensure that we maintain our status as a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU).
A true and heartfelt thank you to both Nate and Mary Lee for their commitment to KU. We are a better university by their efforts.
In the coming week, I will launch an internal search to fill the permanent position with the expectation that the new vice provost for Diversity and Equity will begin duties no later than July 1. The April 2016 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group report (page 18) suggested that the position include a tenured faculty line to ensure that they can push for broader structural changes throughout the institution. I wholeheartedly agree with this suggestion and have included this among the requirements for the position we will post.
We will also begin two additional internal searches, run concurrently, for Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, presently filled in an interim role by Stuart Day, and for Vice Provost of Faculty Development.
Committing to What Matters
Effective change doesn’t come from the passage of time — it comes from our actions. Every day we need to know that our endeavors and decisions are moving us closer to where we want and need to be.
News and Notes
The first Concealed Carry Information Session for the KU Lawrence and Edwards campuses will begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, in Budig Hall, Room 120. The event will be live-streamed for those who cannot attend in person.
Kathy Obear, co-founder of the Social Justice Training Institute, will present “Creating Inclusive, Socially Just Campus Environments” from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Feb. 10, in the Office of Multicultural Affairs classroom of the Sabatini Multicultural Center. A second workshop for faculty and staff, “Turn the Tide: Rise Above Toxic, Difficult Situations in the Workplace” will be from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Joseph R. Pearson Auditorium.
Kudos to KU Debate for its strong performance during the fall semester. The team began the spring semester ranked first in the national varsity debate rankings. Good luck in the weeks ahead!
Two town halls for the KU Lawrence and Edwards campuses have been scheduled to discuss information gathered during last fall’s KU Climate Study surveys. Both events are Wednesday, March 29, in The Commons of Spooner Hall. The first town hall is noon to 1:30 p.m.; the second will be 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sixteen outstanding individuals were selected by the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity to be this year’s KU Men of Merit. The award and accompanying poster strive to increase awareness of the importance of education and involvement in men’s lives and presents role models and mentors.
Applications for the Jeannette Johnson Professional Development Award are due today at 5 p.m. The funds, distributed through KU Staff Senate, can contribute toward conferences registration fees, workshops, seminars, travel expenses, and more. Funds are limited, with a maximum award of $500 per selected staff member.
The next International Coffee Hour hosted by International Student Services begins at 3 p.m., Friday, Feb. 17, at Watson Library, 3 West. All are welcome.
Check out the Center for Undergraduate Research’s February Spotlights for personal insight into developing research topics and persevering through the challenges. This month’s Student Spotlight shines on economics student Amir Khaleghi.
Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Laurence Weatherley will deliver his inaugural lecture “Leading the Charge: Droplets and Interfaces for Intensive Chemical Processing” at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union.
Congratulations to Professor of Law Virginia Harper Ho who was selected by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the Carnegie Foundation for a two-year fellowship in the Public Intellectuals Program. The program helps young American China scholars and specialists broaden their knowledge about China’s politics, economics and society.
Good luck to all students taking part in this week’s career fairs. Remember to research employers before the event. During the event, make eye contact, shake hands, ask questions, and remember to say “thank you” to the employers you meet.