A Passion for KU

March 5, 2012

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

What a game. What a season. What a team!

It has been 10 days and two more victories since the men’s basketball team beat Missouri at Allen Fieldhouse, but the thrill of the game still buzzes across the entire KU community. It is well deserved — eight straight Big 12 championships is an amazing achievement.

We’ve topped Missouri and the rest of the Big 12 in basketball, and we have similar expectations for the University of Kansas in academics and research. Imagine what will happen when we all direct the same passion and support to meeting our vision of being recognized as a top-tier public international research institution.

Pride in KU

As basketball fans, we insist that no school can match either our tradition or current success. We measure success by national rankings and seeding for the NCAA tournament.

In the same way, the KU community can take pride in the academic success of our students and faculty. KU is a great university. Here are just a few shining examples:

  • This academic year, KU is #2 in the nation in the number of faculty Fulbright Scholars. In addition, 11 KU students received Fulbright scholarships, which is first in the Big 12.
  • KU is home to 49 ranked programs, more than all other Kansas universities combined.
  • In fiscal year 2010, KU had $225 million in externally funded grants and contracts, the most in Kansas.
  • 23 active companies are based upon KU research, and our business incubator is the largest in the state.

Raise our expectations

We should take pride in these notable accomplishments while we plan for an even greater future. We can and must raise the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.

Much like weekly rankings are a measure of our basketball team’s success, we have developed metrics in our strategic plan Bold Aspirations to gauge progress toward meeting our goals. As always, we compare ourselves and our progress against a peer group of 10 public AAU universities — some roughly comparable to KU, some ahead of us in the metrics, and others in the top echelon we aspire to join.

The big basketball victory over Missouri — and achieving the goal of yet another Big 12 championship — was powered by energy from the team, from the coaches, and from the crowd. The same level of energy will be required to meet the goals of Bold Aspirations: It will take passion and execution from our team of dedicated faculty and staff, from leadership like our deans and directors, and from our crowd of loyal Jayhawks including alumni, students, and state and local leaders.

Building for tomorrow

Raising our expectations goes hand in hand with expanding the physical presence of KU. As the chancellor noted last week, the new BEST building on our Edwards Campus means more students have access to a KU education.

The BEST building and its partner on the Johnson County Research Triangle, the University of Kansas Clinical Research Center, are game changers. They provide cutting-edge academic and research programs for Johnson County and the Kansas City metro area, complementing our work on the Lawrence campus.

KU has important building and renovation needs that when addressed will help propel us forward. Strategy 6-B of Bold Aspirations calls for a comprehensive process for facilities planning. Later this year, we will launch a study for a new master plan for the Lawrence campus, replacing a plan last updated in 1997, and a similar process is already underway on the KUMC campus.

Just as passionate crowds can change the course of a basketball game, involvement from you can be the difference between “almost making it” and a university-wide win for research and teaching.

Your feedback has recently been requested on the four strategic initiatives reports, and in the upcoming week we ask you to complete the online survey about the learning outcomes and educational goals for the new KU Core curriculum. Your input will help build an even better tomorrow.

What a team!

As I’ve said before, there has never been a more energizing time to be a Jayhawk — both on the basketball court as well as academically. I know you join me in taking pride in KU and the work we do every day to educate future leaders, build healthy communities, and make discoveries that change the world. We are a great university energetically striving to new levels of excellence.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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