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No One Wakes up Wanting to be Mediocre

March 5, 2018

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 54 seconds.

Dear staff and faculty:

KU faculty and researchers rub shoulders with some impressive names.Fulbright, Carnegie, Guggenheim, Jefferson, Mellon, MacArthur.

University of Kansas faculty have ties to some pretty big names in the field of discovery, expression, and innovation. In fact, we recently learned that KU is among the top institutions in the nation this year with six researchers recognized as Fulbright Scholars for 2017-2018. This kind of news is so exciting and reminds us of the amazing experiences our colleagues have each year. And it happens because faculty and researchers are intentional in their scholarship and their networking.

There’s no denying that KU faculty conduct truly revealing research and produce stunning, insightful creative works. Faculty, researchers and support staff work very hard to be successful in their fields. And while we want our work to speak for itself, we at times must be deliberate to ensure it gets the recognition it deserves.

It requires that we be strategic with our time and our local, national, and international connections. We all know the professional organizations that serve our disciplines, and we are aware of the awards they bestow that signify excellence. However, not all organizations and awards are created equal. Some have added prestige and influence that scaffold toward recognition in elite settings such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Carnegie Corporation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Academies.

At KU, resources are available to help faculty and researchers make the most of their valuable time and scholarly work. Some schools and departments have an awards committee to facilitate faculty recognition beyond the office, lab, or studio. In addition, staff are in place across campus — Bob Rummer in the KU Center for Research, Kathy Porsch in the Hall Center for the Humanities, Tricia Bergman in KU Innovation & Collaboration, and Becca Peterson in this office, to name a few — who can help faculty identify additional and sometimes more advantageous partners, organizations, and opportunities. They are ready to help unlock enhanced recognition possibilities through guidance that can lead to more successful award applications and research partnerships with influential organizations.

From recent conversations with Chris Brown, vice provost for Faculty Development, and Becca Peterson, I’ve learned that relatively simple things, such as establishing a public profile on Google Scholar, can also have a significant impact. With few exceptions, prospective graduate students and emerging scholars are digital natives. If they can’t find a researcher online, they may not find the researcher at all. There are implications beyond being able to attract top talent. Dean of Libraries Kevin Smith shared with me that linking one’s open access works in KU ScholarWorks to a Google Scholar profile will help ensure an even broader reach. This tool and others like it may increasingly be used by established and influential scholars around the world.

How we make the most of networking opportunities can also elevate our personal and scholarly profile. On-campus networking experiences, such as those found at the regular Red Hot Research events, can lead to new interdisciplinary research opportunities outside a faculty member’s traditional field and the possibility of more extensive recognition of one’s body of work. Farther afield, it’s important to remember that the soft networking skills of participating in and contributing to scholarly organizations builds our personal recognition and is influential in its own right.

Faculty and researchers, it’s time to make sure you get the recognition you deserve. A new awareness and a new approach could be the key to ensuring even more KU names are forever linked to prestigious accolades like Fulbright, Carnegie, MacArthur, Pulitzer, and Nobel.



News and Notes

KU on Wheels staff and Transit Commission members will be available to answer questions and receive feedback on proposed route and service changes for fall 2018. The listening session runs from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 7, in The Crossroads of the Kansas Union.

KU this week celebrates its 60th year of partnership with the University of Costa Rica now recognized as the longest-standing institutional partnership in the Western Hemisphere. Thank you to all the faculty, staff, and students who have contributed to this partnership’s longevity and success.

The Self Graduate Fellowship will host a free public lecture by Brian Greene, physicist, mathematician, and Columbia University professor, at 4:30 p.m., Friday, April 13, in the Burge Union. His talk “Big Science and the Future of Discovery” is the 2018 Symposium Lecture.

The next flag raising for “Pledges of Allegiance” will be at 10 a.m., March 14, at The Commons. The exhibit, a collaborative effort between the Spencer Museum of Art and The Commons, seeks to inspire democratic exchange through commissioned flags reflecting aspects of the current political climate. The event is also livestreamed on the Spencer Museum’s Facebook Page.

Edwards Campus holds Link & Learns, free one-hour online professional development sessions, every third Thursday of the month. The March webinar is “Writing Emails that Save Time and Get Results” and will be at 11 a.m., Thursday, March 15. Register to attend online.

The KU Center for Sustainability and the Kansas Biological Survey are preparing to conduct a controlled burn of the Prairie Acre Restoration Project south of Blake and Twente halls between Thursday, March 8, and Friday March 16. The burn, expected to last only 30 minutes, is dependent upon favorable weather conditions.

A KU Libraries exhibit that coincides with the 50th anniversary of women’s intercollegiate athletics, takes a look at 125 years of women and sports at KU. The exhibit is on display through April 30 in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library Exhibit Space.

In case you missed it, crime was down on the Lawrence campus in 2017. KU Public Safety Office released annual crime statistics that show there was a 12.8% drop in overall crime.

The Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity is accepting nominations for its annual awards that honor students, faculty, staff and alumnae. Among the awards is the new Bernadette Gray-Little Expanding the Reach Award that recognizes individuals who contribute to campus recruitment and retention efforts through their work to promote gender equity and diversity. Nominations are due by March 18.

Nomination support materials from departments and supervisors for undergraduate research mentor awards are due to the Center for Undergraduate Research by March 27.

The KU Powwow and Indigenous Culture Festival will be from noon to 10 p.m. on March 31 at the Lied Center of Kansas. The free annual event, coordinated by the First Nations Student Association in partnership with Haskell Indian Nations University and several KU offices, also features presentations, workshops, and kids’ activities. 

Congratulations, and thank you, to faculty, staff, and students in the KU School of Law, celebrating 50 years of its Legal Aid Clinic. The Clinic gives law students practical experience while providing legal services to the poor in northeast Kansas.

The next Move-N-Learn, previously known as Walk-N-Learn, will take participants on a tour of the recently renovated Summerfield Hall. Faculty and staff will be able to explore the Military Affiliated Student Center, University Career Center, and the Department of Film and Media Studies. Registration is required for the event, which takes place from noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, March 7.

Spring break and the NCAA basketball tournament will soon be here. Safe travels to all making the most of these opportunities.

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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