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A Deep Well of Quality

April 10, 2017

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 15 seconds

Dear Students, faculty, and staff:

We all know first impressions matter. But so do the second, the third, and the fourth.

Those interactions are our opportunity to demonstrate deeper personal characteristics of skill, empathy, knowledge, adaptability, leadership, and more.

Every day as I travel to points across campus, I am reminded of the exceptional character and talent embodied in University of Kansas staff members. Quite often, staff members serve as the connective tissue between students and faculty. They are the fuel and the lubricant that ensure KU achieves and operates efficiently while also showing what it means to be part of an extraordinary, thriving family.

Our Jayhawk family includes exceptional people like Mary Lou Strong, Kate Harper, Patrick Stalcup, and thousands of others.

Mary Lou, an administrative assistant in Human Resource Management, is one of the February employees of the month. She is the voice on the phone whenever someone calls HRM and has likely interacted with thousands of individuals over the course of her 20 years at KU. Mary Lou was recognized for her accuracy and industrious nature, her welcoming disposition, and for being an unending spring of information.

Kate, a November employee of the month, is a registered nurse and supervisor at Watkins Health Service. She’s viewed by her colleagues as a problem solver and leader who can bring out the best in others. As a supervisor, she inherited an evolving department and responded with calm confidence. Staffers are assured and comfortable under her supervision, and the environment she encourages results in improved interactions with clients.

Patrick, one of last April’s employees of the month, keeps his cool under pressure. As a boiler technician in Facilities Services, he ensures the more than 180 boilers on the Lawrence campus run smoothly. He tackles the necessary maintenance and troubleshoots problems that arise. His work plays a role in our personal comfort and means members of our campus community have hot water available in our taps. He has been recognized by his coworkers as doing exceptional work and is known for taking those new to the boiler trade under his wing.

In May, KU will recognize these three and other recent employees of the month and reveal our newest employees of the year for unclassified professional staff and university support staff. I hope you will join me in celebrating their achievements and take a moment to thank them for their dedication to KU.

Employee Tuition Assistance

Being exceptional doesn’t have to mean going the extra mile. Instead, it’s about taking the next step. I want all of us to realize our personal and professional potential. And I have some good news to share with staff, in particular.

Provost Office staff and I have been working to find ways to keep our employee tuition assistance program meaningful in spite of funding challenges. I heard your concerns and I understand what is on the line. Like you, I believe we should always strive to be more and should never be resigned to mediocrity.

There will be no changes to the employee tuition assistance program for the summer semester. We will continue to look at options for the fall semester with the mindset that KU supports and fully encourages the desire of staff in good standing to obtain professional development through the tuition assistance program. Your pursuit of personal and professional development is crucial to KU’s mission and to the success of KU’s students.

About Those Early Impressions …

Often, the first interactions a student has with KU is through a staff member. Whether those meetings come from a summer camp experience, a recruitment event, orientation, KU housing move-in day, or something else, it’s clear that staff have the opportunity to show students the exceptional character that Jayhawks are known for.

KU staff do more than answer phones, recruit the students, pay the bills, fix the plumbing, maintain the servers, or measure blood pressure. They quietly inspire colleagues and current and future generations of Jayhawks to be their best. Thank you!



News and Notes

The first candidates for both the dean of the School of Social Welfare and the dean of the School of Business will begin campus visits this week. Interested individuals are invited to attend the public presentations. Names of each candidate will be announced in the KU Today email and online roughly 48 hours before their visit, or in the case of Monday visits, the Friday before. 

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center is among the many campus organizations leading events during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Among the events is a presentation “Bout That Life: Bystander Intervention for Communities of Color” by Chimi Boyd-Keyes, at 7 p.m., April 17, in the Big XII Room of the Kansas Union.

Results from KU Climate Study for the Lawrence and Edwards Campus are in and available for review.  Pdfs of the full 600-page report, an executive summary, and the consultant’s PowerPoint presentation can all be downloaded. A hard copy is available for in-person review at the Office of Diversity & Equity, the Provost Office, 250 Strong Hall.

Congratulations to Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry David Volkin and Macromolecule and Vaccine Stabilization Center Director Sangeeta Joshi, who, with investigators at MIT and University College of London, received a $17-million Grand Challenge Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Their work will help craft a low-cost vaccine manufacturing platform for developing countries that conceivably will save millions of lives through greater access to vaccination.

Kudos to Donna Ginther, professor of economics and director of the Center for Economic and Business Analysis. As a researcher for the KU Institute for Policy and Social Research, she was among a small number of experts testifying at a congressional hearing at the end of March for the Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce.

Graduate Student Appreciation Week activities continue all month long. This week grad students are invited to take part in “Building Inclusive Graduate Communities” to connect with other members of the KU community on Thursday, April 13. 

Word nerds take note! Visiting Scholar Anne Curzan will present “Going Grammando: A Linguist’s Look at Language Peeves,” at 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 26, at the Hall Center for the Humanities Conference Room. Curzan is a professor of English language and literature in the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts. She is a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel.

Tax season is here and returns are due Tuesday, April 18. Currently enrolled students can enlist the free help of KU Legal Services for Students for completing tax returns or answering tax questions.

Congratulations to graphic design student Piper Holt for her winning submission in the HawkRoute symbol design contest. HawkRoute is an accessible path from Sunnyside to Jayhawk Boulevard. Holt’s design hints at two iconic features of the university while also demonstrating elevation change.

Applications are now open for the 2017-2019 faculty fellows for The Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and the Center for Undergraduate Research. The fellow for CCSR will develop and implement a program related to community engagement scholarship. Similarly, the Center Undergraduate Research fellow will work on a project related to one of the center’s four areas of focus. For complete details, visit the CCSR webpage or, for the undergraduate research fellow, contact Assistant Vice Provost John Augusto.  Applications are due May 12.

The School of Music Recital Series continues on the Edwards Campus with a performance featuring Assoc. Prof. Stephanie Zelnick on the clarinet and Lecturer Ellen Sommer on the piano. The free event is from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 11 in Regnier Hall Auditorium.

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences’ Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is hosting a free weekly lunch for all KU students to take a break, meet each other and build a stronger KU community. The lunches continue weekly on Wednesdays through May 3.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk,

Neeli Bendapudi

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

Follow me on Twitter at @KUProvostNeeli and the Provost Office at @KUProvost. Join the office on Facebook at /KUprovostoffice/. Find the office on Instagram at /KUprovost/.

This issue of Strong Ties as well as past ones can be found on the Provost eNews web page.

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