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Bold Opportunities for Foundation Professors and New Visitor Series

August 8, 2012

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

Summer — as defined by the academic year and not, unfortunately, as defined by 100-degree days — is almost over. Whether you’ve been sticking close to campus or travelling for research or pleasure, I hope you’ve had an enjoyable break.

My travels this summer included some valued family time as well as conferences with peers, and I also spent a day visiting with Jayhawks in the heart of K-State territory as part of the KU Alumni Association’s Hawk Days of Summer. What a great experience to visit with KU alumni and supporters in Wamego, Manhattan, and Washington!

For all of us in leadership positions, visiting with the community and receiving input about KU’s goals and trajectory is very important. As we approach the start of the fall semester, I’m seeking your input on a pair of major opportunities regarding our four strategic initiative themes. With your nominations of outstanding individuals, each will play an important role in realizing the goals of our strategic plan Bold Aspirations.

Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series

First, we are asking your help in identifying scholars for the Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series, which will highlight eminent visitors and KU scholars related to the strategic initiative themes. Participants in the series will meet with the KU community and give a public lecture. The visits could range from 1–2 days to an entire semester or longer.

Earlier this month, for example, Prof. Peter Pecora of the University of Washington gave a workshop for faculty in the School of Social Welfare on “Future Research and Funding Priorities in Child Welfare.” On September 13–14, we are planning for a visit from noted mathematician and computer scientist Prof. Vladimir Vapnik of Columbia University, the Royal Hollaway in London, and NEC Laboratories.

Please submit names of similar outstanding individuals for the Bold Aspirations series by forwarding names, bios, and brief rationale to me at provost@ku.edu. The series is a great opportunity to expose visitors to interesting work at KU, build collaborations, and perhaps recruit stellar individuals to KU.

Recruiting 12 new Foundation Professors

Recruiting stellar faculty members is the goal of the second opportunity I am requesting nominations for, and it will be supported directly by the State of Kansas. This past legislative session, with support from Governor Brownback, the legislature allocated to KU $3 million per year for the hiring of 12 Foundation Professors.

These professors will be scholars of the highest caliber internationally who, working together with our current outstanding faculty, will bolster KU's status as an AAU institution. The title “Foundation Professor” reflects the pivotal role each will play in advancing our strategic initiative themes and building worldwide visibility for KU. These high-profile individuals will be supported by additional faculty hires from new and replacement positions within the university, and provided with substantial research and start-up funds via our comprehensive capital campaign.

In September, we will be launching a nationwide campaign highlighting this new opportunity and the strong support it is receiving. I encourage you to submit nominations of outstanding scholars for Foundation Professor positions.

Again, please send nominations to provost@ku.edu. Each nomination should include a statement that identifies the potential contribution to one of the strategic initiative themes and how that contribution will enhance current KU research efforts and visibility. All nominations for Foundation Professors will be thoroughly vetted with stakeholders.

Thanks for your help!

Thanks in advance for your ideas and participation. They are key to help us build a pool of outstanding innovators who will enhance our vibrant KU community and contribute to realizing our bold aspirations. Your expertise and connections among your peers will ensure that both of these opportunities position KU as a national leader.

I look forward to receiving your nominations and to a successful 2012–2013 academic year.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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