A Bold New Year

August 27, 2012

Welcome back, Jayhawks!

Each new academic year, our beautiful campus comes alive. And, of course, a campus as diverse as KU means countless activities across a wide spectrum.

So far this semester I welcomed students moving into newly remodeled GSP Hall, engaged in a great discussion about KU’s Common Book at Templin Hall, gave the opening welcome at Convocation, and met with faculty at the annual summit of the Center for Teaching Excellence. And of course this weekend I’ll be joining students and alumni for tailgating and the first football game of the season (and I promise, Coach Weis, not to leave at halftime!)

At KU, we truly offer a unique academic experience thanks to our diversity, which includes strengths in multiple disciplines. Through Bold Aspirations, our strategic plan, we are enhancing these strengths in a number of important ways.

Recruiting Foundation Professors

I want to remind everyone about a remarkable opportunity highlighted in the previous Provost eNews: A top priority this academic year is recruiting 12 new distinguished faculty — which we call Foundation Professors — to take part in our transformation towards our vision as a top-tier public international research university. It is made possible by the allocation of $3 million per year from the state of Kansas, a strong show of support from the Governor and state legislature.

Please send nominations for stellar candidates to provost@ku.edu. Include a rationale discussing how the individual will boost KU research efforts and visibility in one of the four strategic initiative themes.

Bringing exciting visitors to KU

Please also keep forwarding nominations for potential visitors as part of the new Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture series. On the series website, you will find a list of visitors including a schedule of their activities on campus, brief bios, and a links to their personal websites.

The series is a wonderful opportunity to expose visitors to great things at KU, to build collaborations, and perhaps to recruit stellar faculty. Our tremendous talent on campus and supportive community are powerful draws.

Announcing the first recipients of Strategic Initiative Grants

Last April, we announced the formation of the Research Investment Council and the creation of Strategic Initiative Grants. The purpose of the grants is to provide new funding “to advance our strategic initiatives — ranging from seeding initial efforts to seek external support on the one hand to funding established activities to realize a major increase in sustained external funding on the other hand.”

The initial deadline for the larger-funding category (Level I proposals) was June 15. Ten proposals were submitted and reviewed by the Council over the summer. Based upon its recommendations, I am thrilled to announce these three awards:

  • The Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training: Phase II Expansion, Debra Kamps and R. Matt Reese et al., $250,000 annually for three years
  • Initiative for the Arts in Collaborative Research, Saralyn Reece Hardy and Stephen Goddard et al., $92,000 annually for three years
  • Forecasting Emerging Diseases for Communities and Public Health, Town Peterson et al., $150,000 annually for two years

More information, including a complete list of team members and abstracts for each proposal, is available online.

You will also find information on the web site about a pair of under-$50K (Level II) proposals that have been funded. Level II proposals are reviewed on a rolling basis by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies and may be submitted at any time.

I congratulate each of these collaborative teams, and I thank all others whose proposals were not funded this time around. I especially appreciate the efforts of the RIC members, who took great care in reading, scoring, and discussing the Level I proposals.

The most important part of the RIC and our Strategic Initiative Grants is that the process will be ongoing — with more grants being awarded in the fall and spring. As a reminder, the online submission deadline for the second round of Level I Strategic Initiative Grants is Monday, October 15, and the third deadline is Friday, February 15. Details appear on the web page.

A busy 2012–2013

At most universities, these three bold projects would likely be the biggest changes happening, but at KU we are committed to much, much more.

Look for detailed updates on the KU Core, our new curriculum for all undergraduates. In October, we will produce our first Bold Aspirations annual report, looking back at the first year of implementation and looking ahead to an equally productive second year.

For now, amidst all the busy-ness of the new year, I hope you have the opportunity to revel in the energy level on campus and let it invigorate you to realize your bold aspirations.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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