Enlightened and Shared Governance

April 5, 2011

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

Each year in April, KU renews its commitment to democratic ideals and shared government through the election process: The University will elect new leadership for the University Senate and Faculty Senate. Students will elect a new student body president and vice president. New staff will become involved — many for the first time — in the University Support Staff Senate and Unclassified Senate.

During a time when we’re watching many people around the globe struggle to win the right to self-government, it can be helpful to reflect upon the values and principles of community representation that KU models on a regular basis — by how we hire, govern, and do our business.

I want to express my thanks to all of you who have served the KU community this past year as senators, representatives, committee members, and leaders of student clubs and organizations. Special thanks to our Student Body President Michael Wade Smith and Vice President Megan Ritter, who helped me understand and appreciate the student voice at KU. Thanks also to University Support Staff Senate President Dennis Constance, Unclassified Senate President Phil Wilke, Faculty Senate President Barbara Phipps, and University Senate President Ben Eggleston for their leadership and assistance in my first year at KU as provost.

Town Hall meetings

Giving and getting feedback on the direction of KU is another way we build community. Back in November, the steering committee of our strategic planning process charged work groups to develop action items, timelines, and metrics to advance four important goals. Yesterday those four work groups released their preliminary reports for general feedback. I hope you will read their recommendations and also attend this week’s town hall meetings to discuss those recommendations.

Town Hall Meetings:

  1. Wednesday, April 6, Alderson Auditorium (KS Union)
    Noon to 1:00 p.m. (feel free to bring a brown bag lunch)
    Focus on Energizing the Educational Environment (EEE) and Elevating Doctoral Education (EDE)
  2. Thursday, April 7, Summerfield Room (Alumni Center)
    Noon to 1:00 p.m. (feel free to bring a brown bag lunch)
    Focus on Driving Discovery and Innovation (DDI) and Engaging Scholarship for Public Impact (ESPI)

Both town halls will be videotaped and viewable later on the strategic planning website. There is also an opportunity to provide comments and feedback on an online discussion board. Stay tuned for the coming online discussions of the overarching goals related to enhancing excellence in people and building our infrastructure and resources.

Leadership search updates

There are several very important searches wrapping up and underway that I’d like to update you about:

  • I am pleased to announce that Stephen W. Mazza has been named permanent dean of the School of Law, after a search that looked at an international pool of scholars and administrators. Stephen has provided exceptional stewardship as interim dean, and I am very happy to see that the experience has been mutually rewarding for Stephen as well, prompting him to get interested in the long-term role. His faculty, staff and alumni have voiced strong support. In the end, we had to fight off other universities who were also impressed with Stephen’s strengths.
  • The School of Business dean search committee has invited an impressive group of three finalists for campus visits. The first finalist, Dr. Ali Malekzadeh, dean and professor of management at Williams College of Business at Xavier University, visited campus on March 29th and 30th. The second finalist, Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, professor of marketing at The Ohio State University, will participate in a public forum today from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in 3140 Wescoe Hall. The third finalist, Prof. Dennis Cradit, dean and professor of marketing at the College of Business at Southern Illinois University, will speak in a public forum on Thursday, April 7th from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in 427 Summerfield Hall.
  • Danny Anderson, dean of the College, will chair the search for senior vice provost for academic affairs. Nominations and applications (including letter of application, curriculum vitæ, and names of three references) are invited and may be submitted online through the HR website, position number 00000220. Applications will be reviewed starting April 25th. I would like to thank Barbara Romzek for her excellent work during the last two years as interim senior vice provost, and I wish her well as she returns to her research and teaching.
  • Mary Ellen Kondrat, dean of the School of Social Welfare, will chair the search vice provost for diversity and equity. After meeting with leaders of several groups representing diverse faculty, staff, and students, I elevated this position from associate vice provost to a vice provost to reflect its important role and status. Application materials will be posted on the HR website shortly. Nominations and applications are desired by April 25th.
  • Finally, I’m happy to announce that incoming vice chancellor for public affairs (and fellow Yat) Tim Caboni was in Lawrence last week, meeting with university leaders and the KU Communicators so that he will hit the ground running when he starts on June 1st. We look forward to working with Tim to promote KU and its successes throughout Kansas and around the world.

Student recruiting and leadership

I enjoyed participating yesterday in Scholar’s Day, one of the many recruiting events in which we host top undergraduate recruits to campus. One of the key attractions of KU, which we will enhance further as part of the strategic plan, is the opportunity for students to participate in life-changing experiences like study abroad, research, internships, and service learning. Several current KU students made impressive presentations of their research this past weekend at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Earlier this spring, 48 students received undergraduate research awards. Last week, the Big Event, part of KU’s Into the Streets Week, connected 500 KU students to jobs and projects in the Lawrence community.

The students of the KU Energy Club have partnered with the KU Energy Council to host the upcoming KU Energy Conference on Thursday, April 14th , featuring presentations by several key leaders from government and industry, including Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

Building a vibrant and diverse university community is everyone’s responsibility. We do so by getting involved and contributing what each of us does best. Thanks to all of you for making KU strong.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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