Raising the Bar

November 6, 2012

As a member of the Association of American Universities, the University of Kansas is measured against a select group of 61 fellow member universities. Because AAU membership is highly sought after, we must also measure up against other universities who aspire to AAU membership.

As we developed the KU strategic plan Bold Aspirations, we identified performance indicators for each of our six goals to emphasize accountability. We also selected a peer group of 10 public universities to measure ourselves against, some roughly comparable to KU and others whom we aspire to match in excellence.

Measuring progress

As part of our first Bold Aspirations annual report, which we wrote about in the previous Provost eNews, the implementation team and the Office of Intuitional Research and Planning selected a wide range of metrics, which I’d like to discuss here in more detail.  The printed report contains a sampling of the performance metrics, while a complete list appears online.

For each of our six goals, there are standards for performance that go hand-in-hand with becoming a top-tier public international research university.  Our commitment to raising the expectations we have for ourselves must extend from university-wide standards to metrics for every-day activity within individual schools, departments, and units.

Many of the individual strategies we pursue to implement our goals will be driven by these metrics.  One example is developing sustainable funding for doctoral education, where the action items will build upon KU’s first comprehensive review of how doctoral education is funded across the Lawrence campus. The data from this review make up the metrics for goal 2.

I encourage you to review all of the metrics and to consider how you can measure the development of your own unit.

Being accountable

In December 2011, Chancellor Gray-Little outlined to the Board of Regents several key measures where KU must enhance its performance over the next 10 years.  They include absolute measures, such as raising retention and graduation rates, as well as comparisons relative to our peers.  Here is the list:

  • Raise the first-time, full-time freshman retention rate to 90 percent. Our 2011 and 2012 rates are 79.9 percent and 79.2 percent.
  • Raise the six-year graduation rate to 70 percent. Our 2011 rate is 60.7 percent, and our 2012 rate is now 64 percent.
  • Elevate our national stature by increasing the number of graduate programs ranked in the top 10 among public universities by US News from 14 to 21.
  • Grow federal research funding (using the NSF categories counted) to $175 million.
  • Grow research funding per faculty member to $155,000.
  • Increase national academies memberships (NAS, NAE, and IOM) from 7 to 12.
  • Increase the number of major national faculty awards from 7 to 14.

These measures will require success in all six goals of Bold Aspirations.  None can be considered the domain of only a certain sector the university.  For us to be successful, we must all take responsibility.  Based upon these measures, KU currently ranks 48th among public comprehensive doctoral universities. In 10 years, we aim to improve that ranking to at least 29th.

Bits and Bytes

  • It was a pleasure to join the School of Engineering for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Learned Engineering Expansion Phase 2 facility.  This 110,000 square-foot facility will be a major boon for our students, and it also provides an attractive lure for recruiting the very best faculty to KU.
  • Remember that the Jana Mackey Distinguished Lecture by women’s equality leader Lilly Ledbetter has been rescheduled to Monday, November 12, at 7:30 pm in Woodruff Auditorium. This lecture was delayed because of Hurricane Sandy.
  • Dr. Alfredo Artiles visits campus on Thursday, November 15 at 4:00 pm in The Commons as part of our Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series. Dr. Artiles is Professor of Culture, Society, and Education in the School of Social Transformation, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Arizona State University. His interdisciplinary scholarship examines the ways cultural practices and ideologies of difference mediate school responses to students' needs.
  • Our search for a new Vice Chancellor for the KU Edwards Campus continues. The search committee is chaired by Mary Ellen Kondrat, dean of the School of Social Welfare. Bob Clark is stepping down as dean and vice chancellor of the Edwards Campus on December 31st, and an interim vice chancellor will be named soon.
  • Finally, over the next four weeks we will welcome to campus four excellent candidates for dean of the School of Engineering. All candidates will participate in an open forum to give the entire university an opportunity to engage with them.
Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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