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Create Impact Through Involvement

October 23, 2017

Est. reading time: 3 min., 35 sec.

Dear students, staff and faculty:

Associate Dean for Diversity and Women's Programs in the School of Engineering, second from right, consults with KU students during a hackathon to design devices to help humankind in advance of or the wake of a hurricane disaster. The event is one of many ways students can craft an educational experience as unique as they are. A college experience should be as unique as your fingerprint.

To be certain, degree curricula are established and followed to ensure students master the knowledge needed to enter a given field. College today, however, is much more than the classes one takes and the grades one receives. The saying “you get out of it, what you put into it,” is no less true when one arrives at the steps of Strong Hall.

KU gives students opportunities to “customize” their educational experience in amazing ways. Some students have chosen to pursue research experiences, others have chosen to be part of traditional student organizations or work in university offices closely aligned with their interests. Still others have chosen to take part in activities — inside of and outside of the classroom — that have a lasting impact on themselves as well as the university.

Building, Performing, Caring

This weekend I had the pleasure of spending time with students at the Serve KU! Seminar. The program helps students channel their knowledge, energy, and passions into projects and improvements on our campus and in our community. It is always an inspiration to hear their ideas and witness their dynamism. And I know those in attendance represented only a tiny portion of the KU students who are pursuing progress and advances during their time at KU.

For example, this weekend engineering students took part in the IHAWKe-a-thon, a timed contest to design and build a prototype and then deliver a product pitch. Teams were challenged to create a product to be used by hurricane survivors to “preserve, protect, house, connect or restore human lives” in the days before or after a Category 5 hurricane. The teams could focus on storm-related environmental and social impacts such as displacement, food, infrastructure, and more.

In recent years the Lied Center launched its Jayhawk Live Series which provides students in performance ensembles with meaningful experiential learning opportunities rehearsing and performing side-by-side with professional artists. The program demonstrates the overwhelming importance of mentoring in the arts community and helps students be inspired as they explore and develop new approaches and techniques. You can watch them in action here.

KU students and faculty in the School of Architecture and Design are partnering with other institutions to construct a community center in rural Haiti. Our students are learning how to design a building while also learning cultural considerations, community building techniques, natural building methods and project management skills.

The Project on the History of Black Writing, founded by Distinguished Professor of English Maryemma Graham, gives students opportunities to preserve the literary works of authors of African descent in America. Often students at HBW are identifying texts that have been lost to history and promoting their return. Their effort is providing “new” materials capable of reshaping curricula.

Make it Your Own

Some students create opportunity where none existed before. Daniela Calderón-Córdoba, a senior double-majoring in accounting and French, this year co-founded the Global Business Initiative, which works to connect international and U.S. students at KU with a goal of increasing global competence.

Other students find that one experience is a springboard to even greater possibilities. Vuong Nguyen participated in the Freshman Leadership Council through the Student Involvement and Leadership Center.  Now a junior in computer science, he has been involved as a Residential Peer Advisor, he is a Peer Leadership Consultant at SILC, he is the publicity director and graphic designer for the KU Chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery and he added a minor in visual art.

The benefits of involvement are profound, and I’m struck by the nature of the investment. It builds students’ knowledge of the world, and often of their chosen profession. It hones their leadership and teamwork skills. It leads them to be champions of change. It develops attributes valued by employers across the country. Even more than that, these experiences clearly contribute to society.

Students, build your own experience — all it takes is an idea, a feeling and a little gumption.  Claudia Rankine, our 2017 Common Book author, stated it so succinctly when she spoke on campus in September, “There are people here who will help you, if you let them.” Open up and share your ideas. We are here to help.

Make your educational experience as unique as your fingerprint, because when you do, all of KU becomes stronger.



News and Notes

All KU graduate students are invited to a graduate student gathering from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26, in the Hancock Ballroom of the Oread Hotel. Come meet fellow graduate students from across campus. Enjoy free food and a cash bar. Family are also welcome to attend this event hosted by KU Graduate Studies and the Office of the Provost.

KU Information Technology launched a security website last week. The site offers resources, services, training and information on a number of IT security topics — passwords, phishing, antivirus software, mobile security and more — that affect us on campus and off.

Open Enrollment for the 2018 State Employee Health Plan concludes on Tuesday, Oct. 31. The enrollment is considered an “active enrollment” in that employees currently enrolled in Plan A or Plan C who do not complete open enrollment will default into a new health plan (Plan N). Please visit KU’s Open Enrollment information site to learn more.

The annual KU Food Drive is underway. Throughout October, patrons of KU Bookstores can add a dollar or more to their purchase and funds will be donated to Just Food. Donations of nonperishable items also will be collected at locations across campus between Oct. 16 and Oct. 31. Visit KU Fights Hunger to learn about the food drive, collection sites, and other campus-wide efforts to fight food insecurity.  

Administration and Finance will host several town halls to introduce faculty and staff to the new cloud-based financial systems. The complete schedule of town halls, many of which will be live-streamed, is available online.

Staff are invited to “Crucial Conversations in Difficult Moments” a workshop that addresses the nature of difficult conversations, and how one manages the conversation as emotions become heightened. The event will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Monday, Oct. 30, in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union. Please RSVP by Friday, October 27. The Office of Diversity & Equity, which is hosting the workshop, will also offer additional sessions for faculty and for graduate students.

Associate Professor of Sociology Brittany C. Slatton, the Fall 2017 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor, will deliver “Beyond Resilience: Sexual Assault and the ‘Strong’ Black Woman” at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 25, in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union. The presentation is free and open to the public.

The Center for Community Outreach and several campus offices are hosting Activism 101: DACA from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 25 in Smith Hall, Room 100. The panel discussion will focus on the recent DACA decision and how it will impact the lives of Dreamers. Panelists will also discuss how individuals, as students and citizens, can take action steps to support Dreamers.

The Center for Teaching Excellence is accepting applications from STEM departments for small grants to develop and adopt new evaluation frameworks that draw from multiple sources of evidence, including students, peers and instructors. The program is part of the Center’s new $2.8 million, five-year, multi-institution NSF grant Framework for Teaching Effectiveness Project.

Students, staff, and faculty are invited to the Prairie Acre Open House from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 24 at the Prairie Acre. The event, hosted by the Center for Sustainability, takes place at the newly constructed Demonstration Garden on the north side of Prairie Acre. The restoration and preservation project began as an Environmental Studies capstone course in 2014.  

KU Staff Senate is accepting applications for the Jeannette Johnson Professional Development Awards. Staff Senate has limited funds to award to candidates for professional development activities that occur before March 31, 2018. Up to $300 may be awarded to recipients depending on the number and quality of applications. Funds can contribute toward conference registration fees, workshops, seminars, travel and more. Apply by Sunday, Nov. 5.

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/. Join the office on Instagram at /KUprovost/.

This issue of Strong Ties as well as past ones can be found on the Provost Strong Ties web page25.

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