Choosing KU

April 9, 2012

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

Far above the golden valley
Glorious to view...

Perhaps it is being on campus every day, or because of the attention to the work we are doing to transform our university, that I don't reflect often enough on the opening to Crimson and the Blue, KU's alma mater. The University of Kansas campus is, truly, among the most beautiful anywhere.

For prospective students, the campus environment we might take for granted is a powerful draw. It is what they will experience once enrolled, however, that will be the deciding factor in selecting KU.

As we implement the strategies focused on undergraduate education in Goal 1 of Bold Aspirations, our strategic plan, we will position KU to recruit the very best applicants, engage them intellectually to reach their full academic potential, and stimulate their progress to graduation and successful careers.

A strong and unique undergraduate education

One sophomore and three juniors, all members of the KU Honors Program and all Kansas natives, have received prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships selected from a field of more than 1,000 mathematics, science, and engineering students nationwide.

This large number of Goldwater winners demonstrates the strong undergraduate experience KU offers, including for the best and brightest high school seniors in Kansas. Our students demonstrate a strong and early commitment to making a difference locally and globally. KU has also been nationally recognized for service learning, including a 2010 Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement and five consecutive years on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Study Abroad has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top programs in the nation, one of only nine public universities named, and over one-fourth of KU students participate. Several additional programs combine undergraduate research with hands-on experiences abroad.

All of these experiences will have potential to meet one of the six learning goals of KU Core, our new curriculum for all undergraduates beginning fall 2013. We are building on our strong, unique set of experiences and creating new opportunities for our undergraduate students.

Energizing the first year

Students who engage intellectually with one another will likely stay engaged through the time of graduation. Investing in first-year experiences will foster academic success, and our first new program will be the KU Common Book.

Our first Common Book will be announced this week on Thursday, April 12. The book is an exciting selection that closely ties to our third strategic initiative theme, Building Communities, Expanding Opportunities. The goal is a campus wide initiative that is unique to KU.

Several courses have already chosen to incorporate the book into the fall 2012 semester, including PRE 101 and sections of COMS 130. Mini-grants will be available to faculty, staff, and student groups to develop additional programming around the book. The book will play a role in Convocation, and the author will visit campus in October.

A webpage with details on how you can get involved with the KU Common Book will be launched with the announcement. You can also look for details by following us on twitter @Bold_KU.

A sustainable future

In The Princeton Review's Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition, it was noted that nearly 7 out of 10 college applicants said having information about a school's commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school. At KU, students will find numerous opportunities to get involved in a sustainable education, both through research projects and student initiatives.

KU's commitment to sustainability is keeping our campus "glorious to view." As you walk down Jayhawk Boulevard, look for 10 new redbud trees thanks to "Replant Mt. Oread." And keep your eye out for KU Rain Barrels on Parade, on display beginning tomorrow at the Lied Center. Each of the nearly 60 barrels will be auctioned off Monday, April 23.

Building Sustainable Traditions, our campus sustainability plan, is a guide towards potential savings also identified by Changing for Excellence. You can get a taste for how much energy savings can be generated tracking the Lights Out! Energy Savings Challenge. Deans from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Law and Business are engaged in a heated competition to drive down energy usage in Bailey Hall, Green Hall, and Summerfield Hall.

For more information on these projects, be sure to check out the new Sustainability Spotlight newsletter.

Hail to Old KU

One of biggest influences for potential KU students is the success of those already excelling on campus, whether it is the continued success of our KU Debate team, major honors like a Goldwater Scholarship, or the big wins by our student athletes.

Bill Self and his team took the KU community on a great ride, demonstrating time and time again that if you remain committed to excellence you can achieve great things.

When we sing the alma mater before each game, we begin by reflecting on our idyllic campus, but end with a cheer that applies across all areas of excellence at our university — Hail to Old KU!

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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Why KU
  • One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
  • 44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
  • 5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times