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Educating, Building, Discovering: Reviewing Year 2 of Bold Aspirations

October 21, 2013

Educating, Building, Discovering: Reviewing Year 2 of Bold Aspirations

KU’s strategic plan Bold Aspirations is a comprehensive template for transformation.  The plan is made up of six goals encompassing undergraduate education, doctoral education, research, engagement, people, and resources.

The key to our success, though, is our focus.  I am proud to report that two years into implementation of our five-year strategic plan we have made substantial progress.

I encourage you to review our 2013 Bold Aspirations Annual Report.  Printed copies are also available in the Provost’s Office.  The report highlights success stories from year 2 of the implementation, but more importantly marks a clear transition: Bold Aspirations has truly become a part of everything we do at KU as we pursue our mission of educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

Major advances in year 2

The 2013 annual report highlights six areas of focus from the past year:

  • Establish a new KU Core curriculum.  In August we launched the KU Core, our first-ever university-wide undergraduate curriculum.  It positions KU as a national leader in undergraduate education by providing each student with a flexible menu to meet the six educational goals, with incentives for study abroad, research, and service learning.
  • Redesign courses to enhance student learning.  KU’s commitment to redesigning “gateway” courses is enhanced by membership in a trio of national collaborations to develop new technologies.
  • Elevating doctoral education.  We developed a comprehensive implementation plan with action steps to meet each of our strategies.
  • Pursue multidisciplinary strategic initiatives.  Our four multidisciplinary strategic initiative themes have been enhanced by engaging faculty on current research, investing in new projects, and attracting eminent visitors to campus.
  • Promote active entrepreneurship and vibrant external partnerships.  We are working to turn groundbreaking research into innovative products and partnerships that improve lives and grow our economy.  As one example of increased activity, gross licensing revenues have increased twelvefold in the last two years.
  • Developing infrastructure and resources.  We have launched the Changing for Excellence project to do more with less, which in turn provides resources to invest in the priorities of our strategic plan.  Early successes include printing efficiencies, server virtualization, procurement savings, and the inauguration of shared service centers.

The last pages of the report provide a sample of the metrics we use to measure progress; you can review a full list of metrics online.  The report also provides a graphical depiction of the degree of progress toward completing each strategy.

Areas of focus for year 3

As we continue our progress, we will focus on six selected areas of Bold Aspirations for year 3 of the implementation:

  • Redesign courses to enhance student learning.  As I noted in the Sept. 30 edition of Provost eNews, the Course Redesign Task Force will develop guiding principles for course redesign.  In collaboration with the Center for Teaching Excellence, three postdoctoral fellows at KU are working to redesign high-risk “gateway” courses within their respective disciplines. 
  • Attract and recruit the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.  Our first priority in elevating doctoral education is to improve how we recruit doctoral students, in ways highlighted in the Sept. 16 edition of Provost eNews.
  • Pursue multidisciplinary strategic initiatives.  Current faculty searches include several research clusters and Foundation Professorships oriented around particular strategic initiative themes.  The Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series continues to bring eminent visitors to campus — both short-term and long-term.  This year we have two long-term visitors:  Dorthe Dahl-Jensen of the University of Copenhagen is spending the fall semester at KU, and James Bever of Indiana University will be at KU during the spring semester.  Additional collaborative events like the recent KU Water Research Workshop will further enhance research around the strategic initiative themes.
  • Vet and refine the post-tenure review policy.  The post-tenure review committee is currently reviewing comments on the draft policy, and we will submit our plan to the Board of Regents by April 2014.
  • Transform organizational structures for maximum effectiveness.  We will build upon lessons learned from implementing our first shared service centers (SSCs) in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences as we implement SSCs in the Life Span Institute, campus administration, campus operations, the libraries, and the schools of Music, Law, and Architecture.
  • Develop a campus master plan.  In early spring we will complete our comprehensive campus master plan depicting a ten-year view of the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.  Inputs include presentations and conversations from three open forums and numerous focus group meetings.

Bits and Bytes

  • At the KU Core kick-off celebration last month, Chancellor Gray-Little and I had the pleasure to recognize the instrumental role that Chris Haufler played in the development of the KU Core.  Each year, a $5,000 annual award in Chris’s name will be competitively awarded to the department or school that submits the best proposal to create innovative ways to fulfill KU Core outcomes.  This year’s inaugural award went to the Humanities and Western Civilization program for their innovative offerings.
  • There are a pair of upcoming lectures as part of the Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series:
    • Matthew Pettway is the fall 2013 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor.  He will present Race, Religion and Ritual: Afro-Cuban Poets in the Age of Revolution on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 3 p.m. in the Kansas Room in the Kansas Union.
    • Robert J. Wuthnow, the Gerhard R. Andlinger ’52 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, will present Red State Religion: Conservative Resurgence in Kansas and Texas on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. in Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union.
  • KU is joining more than 900 institutions from over 90 countries in celebrating 2013 Open Access Week from Oct. 21 to Oct. 25.  A complete list of events is available online.  KU is a recognized leader in advocating for open access policy changes and was the first public university in the United States to institute an open access policy in regard to research published in peer-review journals.
  • The next deadline for Level I Strategic Initiative Grant proposals is Friday, November 1, the second round of proposals for the 2013–2014 academic year. The third and final submission deadline will be March 1. The Research Investment Council has committed $3.4 million to nine multiyear Level I awards over the first four review competitions. The grants enhance our existing research strengths and stimulate new collaborative teams.
Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

This issue of Provost eNews as well as past ones can be found on the Provost eNews web page.

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