Internationalizing the KU Community

March 3, 2014

Faculty, Staff, and Students:

As a public international research university, KU places great value on international programs and international education.  Last month, we announced the KU Academic Accelerator Program (KUAAP), a distinctive first-year experience for international students with good English skills. This exciting new program is a partnership between the University of Kansas and Shorelight Education, a Boston-based higher education company with expertise in global recruiting and international student services.

In this edition of Provost eNews, I will provide additional details on KUAAP and how it will benefit KU, the community, and our international students.  In future issues, we will examine other important KU priorities in the global arena, such as boosting study abroad — especially semester-long experiences, which contribute to the KU Core but currently make up only one-third of all study abroad experiences — and international faculty partnerships and area studies centers.

Expanding international enrollment at KU

More than 2,200 international students from 99 countries currently attend KU, comprising 9.2 percent of our total enrollment. The goal of KUAAP is to eventually double the international student population and make KU a truly international research university.  Internationalizing KU enhances the diversity of our learning environment and prepares our students for success in a global economy.

International students also offer new opportunities for all of our academic programs, particularly as international students advance into upper-level coursework and major in the disciplines. Additionally, enrollment through KUAAP will generate a stable recurring source of funds at KU to invest in our strategic priorities.

KUAAP: A strong partnership

KUAAP combines the strengths of our partner Shorelight Education — international presence and expertise in recruiting international students and preparing them for the academic rigors of a U.S. research university — with KU’s academic programs and services for international students.

KU’s Applied English Center (AEC) will serve as a source of English courses and programs for KUAAP students, who will also complete a 30-hour curriculum in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences during the 12-month program. Students who complete the KUAAP program will have the English proficiency and academic grounding to continue their studies at KU as sophomores.  Starting this fall, KUAAP will begin with a small entering cohort, and in succeeding years it will ramp up to a cohort size of roughly 780 international students. 

In addition to KUAAP students, KU will continue to recruit students directly into KU as first-year students; the international applicant pool this year has shown a healthy increase.  AEC will also continue its recent growth in two other roles: in serving graduate students with English courses and in preparing entry-level students who do not yet have sufficient English skills to enter KUAAP.

As a flagship institution, we have a responsibility to spread educational opportunity as far as possible and to prepare our students as global citizens. The launch of the KUAAP is an exciting step in enhancing international education and international programs at KU.

Bits and Bytes

  • Last week we tripled the number of Foundation Distinguished Professors joining KU when both Chris Beard and Bill Picking were announced as the newest members of this group of eminent faculty members.
    • K. Christopher Beard will join KU on April 1 as a Foundation Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and senior curator at the Biodiversity Institute. He comes to KU from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, widely regarded among the nation’s top-five history museums. In addition, his wife and frequent collaborator, Sandra Olsen, will join KU in August as professor of museum studies and senior curator at the Biodiversity Institute.
    • William Picking is returning to the KU faculty in June as Foundation Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and will take the lead in establishing a Kansas Vaccine Development Center. He comes to KU from Oklahoma State University, where he was chair of microbiology and genetics. Prior to joining Oklahoma State, Bill served for 10 years on the KU faculty. He, too, will be joined by his spouse, Wendy Picking, who will start at KU in August as professor of pharmaceutical chemistry.
  • Both Chris Beard and Bill Picking were a part of the Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series last fall. This month, four more distinguished scholars will present in the series:
    • Gary K. Wolfe, professor of humanities at Roosevelt University’s Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies, will present “Asking the Next Question: Science Fiction and the Rational Imagination” on Monday, March 10 at 4 p.m. in The Commons.
    • Robert DeYoung will present his inaugural lecture as the Capitol Federal Distinguished Professor in Financial Markets and Institutions at the KU School of Business, “What Should We Do About Too-Big-to-Fail Banks?” on Tuesday, March 11, at 5:30 p.m. in the Big 12 Room at the Kansas Union.
    • James Bever, professor of biology at Indiana University, will present “More Than a Sea of Grass: Soil Microbes as Drivers of Prairie Plant Diversity and Productivity” on Thursday, March 13 at 4 p.m. in the Bruckmiller Room at the Adams Alumni Center.
    • D. Kimbrough Oller, professor and Plough Chair of Excellence in the School of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Memphis, will present “Emergence of Foundations for Language” on Wednesday, March 26 at 4 p.m. in the Bruckmiller Room at the Adams Alumni Center.
  • The Large Data Management Genomic Biodiversity Summit scheduled for today in The Commons has been postponed and will be rescheduled. KU Innovation & Collaboration will release details of the new date for the event soon. The all-day event will explore the challenges of managing and analyzing large data in the context of genomic biodiversity research, and it features speakers from Internet2, Microsoft, University of Oklahoma, University of California, and KU.
  • The 2014–2024 University of Kansas Master Plan will be presented to the KU and Lawrence communities during an open forum on Friday, March 14 from 8–10 a.m. at The Commons. The chancellor will make a presentation during a brief ceremony at 9 a.m. The main concepts of our master plan will be on display during this event, and I encourage you to visit and review how we will shape our campus to align with our strategic goals. An invitation will be e-mailed to campus later this week.
  • The Office of the Provost is one of the co-sponsors of the panel seminar on “What is Free Speech in the Age of Social Media” on Tuesday, March 25 at 7 p.m. at The Commons, as part of this year’s exploratory theme on Data & Democracy. This important conversation on the use of social media is a prime example of how a vital academic community can explore the fascinating ramifications of protecting academic freedom while operating responsibly in the public forum of social media.
Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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