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Bold Aspirations for the University of Kansas

September 26, 2011

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

It’s launched!

Don’t miss it! You can view the full version of our Lawrence-Edwards strategic plan — entitled Bold Aspirations — on the boldaspirations.ku.edu web site, where you can also find the university overview and the KUMC plan. The full version is also available in individual sections.

This strategic plan represents nearly a year’s dedicated work of over 160 committee members, plus the efforts of well over a thousand participants across the KU community in the form of strategic initiative nominations, department meetings, focus groups, surveys, and discussions. The planning effort drew upon the insights from the chancellor’s earlier three task forces and previous campus discussions.

As our state’s flagship university and its only member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, KU’s mission is to lift students and society by educating future leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that will change the world. Our vision is to elevate KU into the top tier of public international research universities. We will realize that vision by raising the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.

Focus upon six strategic goals

It’s all about focus.

While we are a comprehensive university, there are specific areas where we can and must improve. Each of the six goals in the strategic plan is focused in a particular way to achieve our bold aspirations. In undergraduate education (goal 1), we will focus upon pathways to KU, through KU, and onward to a successful career. A new core curriculum will be the centerpiece that opens up a world of experiences for our students. In graduate education (goal 2), we will focus upon the integrity of our highest degree — the doctoral degree.

In research (goal 3), we will complement our traditional disciplinary strengths by exploiting multidisciplinary synergies. Our four strategic initiative themes will provide avenues to combine our collective expertise to tackle society’s grand challenges. In service (goal 4), we will focus upon broadening our avenues for scholarship, including those that make direct contributions to society, such as entrepreneurship, K–12 innovations, corporate partnerships, and community-engaged scholarship.

Our focus upon excellence in people (goal 5) will be enhanced through recruitment, development, and retention. Finally, we will focus upon developing our infrastructure and resource base (goal 6) by being good stewards of state funds via the Changing for Excellence initiative and by raising new resources via our comprehensive fundraising campaign, Far Above.

Moving forward

This strategic plan is a guide that, when implemented with full resolve, will drive a transformation of our university. A small team led by Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Sara Rosen has already begun to coordinate the overall logistics and implementation. It will work closely with university governance to discuss ideas and actions. It will chart our actions and time lines, monitor progress via a collection of key metrics and comparisons, and communicate regularly with the KU community. To ensure greater success, each school will develop and implement its own more specific strategic plan, intrinsically aligned with the university’s.

With the objective of renewing general education, six “satellite committees” are currently working with Chris Haufler, special advisor to the provost, to develop learning outcomes that will expand and elucidate the six educational goals identified in the strategic plan. These goals and outcomes will constitute the foundation of the new KU Core Curriculum. Next semester, a representative faculty committee, formed with input from university governance, will begin the process of crafting the actual curriculum. The new curriculum ultimately will include courses and experiences that students may choose from to meet our educational goals, and it will provide students the flexibility to benefit from significant opportunities such as study abroad, research, internships, and service learning. We will pilot elements of the new curriculum as they are developed starting next fall.

Each of our four strategic initiatives will be launched by a university-wide all-day summit to be held in The Commons:

  1. Sustaining the Planet, Powering the World, Friday, November 18, 2011.
  2. Promoting Well-Being, Finding Cures, Friday, December 2, 2011.
  3. Building Communities, Expanding Opportunities, Friday, January 20, 2012.
  4. Harnessing Information, Multiplying Knowledge, Friday, January 27, 2012.

Please mark those dates and plan to attend all those that interest you. Each summit will include stimulating presentations in the morning and activities at lunch and in the afternoon to engage the KU community, build networks, plan for external funding opportunities (and the necessary leadership) to enhance available resources, and examine priorities for infrastructure investment and faculty hires.

We are embarking upon an exciting chapter at KU. The chancellor and I look forward to working with you as we collectively realize our vision as a top-tier public international research university.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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