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A Shared Success

June 17, 2014

Faculty and Staff:

Projects like the reconstruction of Jayhawk Boulevard and the ever-changing traffic detours might provide reasons to view the summer months at KU with reservation, but for me the summer provides great opportunities to share the success stories developing around our strategic plan Bold Aspirations.

It was a tremendous year at KU, and Chancellor Gray-Little and I regularly tout our university’s accomplishments while on campus, in Topeka, and as we travel.  We take pride in noting that KU is transforming itself as a top-tier public international university, and the drivers of that transformation are our talented and dedicated faculty and staff.

Shared and enlightened governance

A key component to our progress is our relationship with university governance and leadership. I want to particularly thank the 2013–14 Senate presidents — Nancy Kinnersley, Chris Steadham, Mike Krings, Betty Colbert, and Marcus Tetwiler — for their open and honest partnership throughout the year.

A good example of positive working relationships and trust was the process that led to adoption of KU’s policy on post-tenure review, which was formally approved last month by the Board of Regents.  We started the process as a collaboration between my office (led by Mary Lee Hummert in her role then as vice provost for faculty development) and faculty governance.  In spring 2013, we jointly appointed the Post-Tenure Review Policy Committee, co-chaired by faculty members Chris Crandall and Rick Levy, and after several meetings the committee put forward a draft policy in May 2013 for campus-wide vetting.

The feedback obtained during the summer and early fall led to a substantial rewrite and simplification in October 2013, which was positively endorsed in December by the Faculty Senate and approved by Chancellor Gray-Little. While the new post-tenure review policy is now part of the University Policy Library, the Faculty Senate proposed adding grounding language to the Faculty Senate Rules and Regulations that commits both the Senate and our office to work together on any future changes to the policy.  And in the spirit of collaboration, we supported extending the same requirement to the existing annual faculty evaluation policy so that, from now on, any future changes to the annual evaluation policy will also require mutual approval.

Drafting a process for the Regents’ social media policy

I look forward to meeting regularly during the upcoming academic year with new governance leadership — Jonathan Mayhew, Jim Carothers, Amanda Ostreko, Chris Wallace, and Morgan Said.  Already, we have worked together to jointly form the Lawrence-Edwards membership of a committee that will develop a fair and inclusive process for KU to guide university action related to the Regents’ social media policy, should a situation ever arise.  Earlier today, governance announced the membership of that committee, co-chaired by University Senate president Jonathan Mayhew.  The committee will complete its work this summer.

As Chancellor Gray-Little, my KUMC counterpart Doug Girod, and I pointed out in our recent message, we desire a clear process that will assure the KU community that we will always examine situations carefully and thoroughly in a manner consistent with KU’s commitment to academic freedom and First Amendment rights and responsibilities.

Keeping in touch

As always, I value the feedback I receive from faculty and staff across campus and welcome your input. I have recently started meeting with faculty and staff advisory groups on a regular basis to discuss ideas and hear concerns.  And along with our senior vice provost for academic affairs Sara Rosen, I continue to visit departmental faculty and unit staff meetings each year get feedback about Bold Aspirations and talk about issues of interest.  These opportunities for dialog have allowed us to fix problems when identified and to clarify misperceptions.

The work you do to fulfill our mission — of educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world — is a powerful story to tell, and one that I never tire of sharing. I look forward to our next academic year working together — and the new chapters we will craft to the KU story.  Have a wonderful summer!

Bits and Bytes

  • I am pleased to announce that E. Nathan (Nate) Thomas III will be joining KU on July 14 as our new Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity.  He comes to us after a career that includes time as chief diversity officer at the University of South Florida Polytechnic campus and as co-founder of Invictus Human Capital Management. At USF, Thomas developed, implemented, and managed diversity efforts for eight years. He implemented a mentoring program to support the retention of diverse students, an organizational framework and strategic plan to support campus diversity, and founded the Diversity Advisory Group, comprised of faculty, staff, students, and community members, to assist in facilitating the office’s initiatives, including diversity training and campus-wide diversity climate surveys. Please join me in welcoming Nate to the KU community.
  • Estela Gavosto, associate professor of mathematics, is the new director of the Multicultural Scholars Program (MSP). She will play a leadership role in the retention of students from diverse populations, as KU strives to meet our goal of achieving a 90% first-year retention rate and a 70% six-year graduation rate. Since 2009, Gavosto has served as program director of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics MSP and associate director of the Office for Diversity in Science Training. She is also a principal investigator of the Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) and the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Program (IMSD), two NIH-supported programs within the Office for Diversity in Science Training.
  • N. Katherine Hayles, professor of literature and director of graduate studies at Duke University’s Program in Literature, will present “Cognition Everywhere: The Rise of the Cognitive Nonconscious” on Wednesday, June 18 at 7 p.m. in the conference room at the Hall Center for the Humanities as part of the Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Hall Center and the Alice F. Holmes Summer Institute in the Department of English.
Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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