The Many Paths to Faculty Excellence
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Dear students, staff, and faculty,
“We rise by lifting others,” is a simple and powerful statement of the guiding philosophy of our day-to-day endeavors at the University of Kansas.
At KU, a lot of the heavy lifting comes from our faculty who are dedicated to creating and disseminating knowledge to benefit their students and society. It is vital that faculty members have access to support that will help them amplify the good that often goes unseen and unacknowledged. We recognize the potential for leadership that exists among a diverse faculty who prepare coursework, teach and advise students; lead service to their departments, colleagues, and larger communities; and who engage in research that can be applied to the social, cultural, political, and economic concerns of the day. While there is a lot more to be done, we see a renewed commitment across campus to ensure that faculty — regardless of discipline, role, or career stage — have access to innovative programs to help them succeed in their teaching, research, and service missions.
Advancing the Art of Instruction
Later this month the Center for Teaching Excellence will host the 4th Annual Student Learning Symposium. The program equips faculty and instructors with the assessment tools and techniques that inspire course development with an emphasis on improving student comprehension and success. CTE provides a variety of development opportunities and resources that help faculty stay current on best practices in teaching and encourage continuous improvement. The center is as committed to supporting the newly- hired instructor as they are in aiding the seasoned professor looking to incorporate the latest technologies and formats.
Creating a Pipeline of Leaders
KU has been fortunate in a rich tradition of scholars who have been actively involved in leadership roles. Successful succession planning requires us to ensure faculty members know and learn about these opportunities in administration. There are myriad paths a faculty member can follow to be involved in campus functions — departmental committees, school or college committees, university governance — or within their respective professional organizations. KU programs such as the Senior Administrative Fellows, coordinated by the Office of Faculty Development, is one means by which mid-career faculty can explore the art and craft of leadership.
Sparking and Sustaining Research
Across campus there are many examples of efforts to foster faculty excellence in research.
In January, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences launched two new programs. One is a simple networking effort to help faculty find new research collaboration partners over a cup of coffee. Another provides Research Excellence Initiative awards. More than 120 faculty, postdocs, and students received research grants to fund creative, innovative, and potent projects.
In the School of Engineering, faculty members have embraced a robust pre-tenure mentoring effort that reflects some of the special considerations of a research-intensive career in STEM fields. Newer faculty members receive insights from campus colleagues on many topics, including establishing their labs and preparing grant proposals for specific funding agencies.
The Power of Community
Whether in teaching, research, or service, we are more effective when we can draw upon a community of peers for support, expertise, and guidance.
Vice Provost Chris Brown and his team in Faculty Development are working to create more opportunities for faculty peer mentoring (tenure or non-tenure track, all academic levels) to ensure productive scholarly careers. They will be launching a center that draws upon insights developed by Faculty Fellows Shannon Portillo, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, and Jennifer Ng, associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Chris is also working on initiatives to streamline administrative processes to better serve our faculty and staff.
These efforts to support every domain of faculty excellence are rooted in our recognition that knowledge creation and dissemination are mutually reinforcing. At KU, we see insights from faculty research informing the classroom experience and questions from students informing research initiatives. And as more of our faculty members’ careers take flight, I’m confident that their rise to greatness will carry all of us at KU — especially our students — to new levels of distinction.
News & Notes
Good luck to all students attending this week’s career fairs. The University Career Fair is 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7. The Engineering and Computing Career Fair is 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8. Both are in the Kansas Union. Remember to research the attending organizations, dress professionally, make eye contact, come prepared with questions specific to the organizations of interest and, most of all, remember to thank representatives for taking time to meet with you.
The 3rd Annual International Jayhawk Festival will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 8, in the Daisy Hill Commons, The event, coordinated by the Office of International Programs and numerous campus partners, features a variety of student-focused information and activities including food, games, art and more. All are welcome.
Nominations for the KU Student Employee of the Year are due Wednesday, Feb. 7. The award recognizes student employees who embody service, excellence, dedication, and whose academic achievements remain stellar. Supervisors may submit their nominations online.
The KU Center for Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways recently earned $10.8 million in second-phase grant funding from the National Institutes of Health. The center works to created tools for biomedical science to better understand the genetic, chemical and physical basis for a wide range of diseases. Congratulations to faculty members Susan Lunte, principal investigator, and co-investigators Erik Lundquist and Blake Peterson.
Feb. 20 will usher in a first-ever marathon of giving to build funding for programs at the University of Kansas through One Day. One KU led by KU Endowment. Sign up to become an ambassador to encourage others to support your KU passion.
Peer Listening Hours, a service of Counseling And Psychological Services, are available for students at multiple times and locations on the Lawrence campus. The drop-in resource provides trained student peers who can offer support, helpful resources and help participants manage stress.
The first Community Table of the spring semester will begin at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7, in the Anschutz Library. Students should bring their KU ID for free Ramen Bowls noodles (while supplies last). Organized by the Office of Diversity & Equity, this month’s co-sponsors include the School of Law and KU Libraries.
Lua Yuille, associate professor of law, was recently honored with the, 2017 Junior Faculty Teaching Award from the Society of American Law Teachers. The award recognizes outstanding recent entrants into legal education who demonstrate commitment to justice, equality and academic excellence.
The Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity is hosting Transgender 101, featuring transgender actor Scott Turner Schofield, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, in the Sabatini Multicultural Resource Center. The program will introduce participants to definitions of gender and evaluation of traditional labels through interactive lecture and personal Q&A. Students can also sign up for one of three Safe Zone training sessions, presented by the SGD Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, this semester. Register online.
The School of Journalism and Mass Communications is honored to host the KU Visiting Enhancing Excellence Scholar Janice Collins this semester. She is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Collins has won multiple Emmy awards for writing, editing, reporting and producing, as well as awards from the Associated Press and Best of Gannett. In 2012 she was selected as one of the Top 50 Journalism Professors in the nation by Journalismdegree.org.
Kress Interpretive Fellow Rachel Straughn-Navarro of the Spencer Museum of Art will be featured at the ADA Resource Center for Equity & Accessibility Lunchtime Conversation from noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 8, in the Spencer Museum. She will discuss her project to develop audio descriptions and tactile exhibitions of art. All are welcome to join this brown-bag open dialogue on issues involving equity and inclusion.
The next session of Red Hot Research will be at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at The Commons in Spooner Hall. The theme for this session centers on aspects of Representation/Participation and features researchers from The School of Journalism and Mass Communications, The School of the Arts, Preventive Medicine and Public Health, and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor