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Recognizing Excellence

December 1, 2014

Faculty, Staff, and Students:

If you found yourself driving on I-70 to and from the Kansas City airport this Thanksgiving weekend, you may have noticed a bright blue KU billboard saying “Curiosity Becomes Discovery.” The message struck me as a welcome contrast to other billboards and a poignant reminder that KU’s aspirations really are bolder than most. This issue of Provost eNews is dedicated to the many faculty, staff, and students at KU who exemplify our mission of “making discoveries that change the world.”

One way we express our gratitude to those who embody such excellence is by formally celebrating their contributions. Tomorrow, for instance, Mary Lee Hummert, interim vice chancellor for research, and I will recognize KU’s newest Leading Light Award recipients — a group of 43 faculty and staff members who received external funding of $1 million or more during the 2013 and 2014 academic years.

On December 9 at 3:30 p.m. in the Lied Center Pavilion, the state’s most prestigious recognition for scholarly excellence, the Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Award , will be awarded to Victor Bailey, the Charles W. Battey Distinguished Professor of Modern British History, and Craig Lunte, professor and former department chair of chemistry. Congratulations, Victor and Craig!

A Bold Aspirations priority for year 4

In the October 20 issue of Provost eNews, we surveyed progress to date during the first three years of our strategic plan Bold Aspirations, and we also highlighted the coming focus areas for year 4. One such focus is goal 5, strategy 2, which involves increasing the visibility and recognition of KU faculty and staff, as well as enhancing training, mentoring, and leadership development opportunities. Here are some particular action steps I’d like to highlight:

  • Next month we will unveil a new web site to feature the tremendous accomplishments of KU community members who have received major awards.
  • That web site will also catalog the local, regional, national, and international awards offered in our many disciplines, along with the criteria and nomination information, in order to facilitate nominations of KU faculty and staff.
  • Starting last year as part of the annual review process, the various schools and the College report their efforts in promoting faculty and staff awards. We encourage each department and unit to devote faculty meetings on a regular basis for advancing such efforts and to make use of other best practices.
  • During the spring semester, KU Innovation and Collaboration (KUIC) will unveil a new faculty expertise portal that individuals can query on any topic of interest in order to identify KU experts on that topic. The tool should prove useful to potential graduate students, corporate partners, and external collaborators, as well as to members of the KU community who want to develop their own scholarly collaborations.
  • To help mentor post-tenure faculty to promotion, Marta Caminero-Santangelo, acting vice provost for faculty development, hosted a morning workshop on November 14th for 52 associate professors, entitled “Making Time to Write: Sustaining Research and Scholarship After Tenure.” In addition, 40 faculty members have signed up to participate in a productivity pilot program, to be held starting in January.
  • The Staff Learning and Development Council and the 2014–2015 class of staff fellows are exploring ways for staff to participate and document professional development as a foundation for growth and advancement.

Recognizing excellence builds KU’s national reputation and enhances our standing as a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). It is a tangible way to thank those in the KU community who commit to the highest standards of excellence and help make KU the stellar university it is.

Bits and Bytes

  • Each year, KU recognizes up to four mid-career faculty members as recipients of the University Scholarly Achievement Award. The award celebrates a significant scholarly or research contribution (such as an exhibition, performance, composition, article or book, or major collaborative project) or a series of closely related contributions. To be eligible, a faculty member must be an associate professor or full professor, be within 10 years of appointment as an associate professor, have completed three years at KU, and not have received a prior major KU award for the same body of work. If you’re interested in nominating someone, please send an email to Debra Bia, dbia@ku.edu, by December 19 indicating your intention. The complete nomination is due by January 20.
  • Thanks go to the Department of American Studies and the Office of Multicultural Affairs for hosting an open space conversation on November 25 about equity and justice as the grand jury decision was returned in the Ferguson, Missouri shooting case.
  • The Office of Diversity and Equity (D & E) is seeking a faculty member to serve an 18-month term as a Diversity and Equity Faculty Fellow. The fellow will work with the D&E Office staff and the Diversity Leadership Council Representation and Engagement Workgroup to increase the number of underrepresented faculty and staff at KU. For further information, please contact Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity Nate Thomas, nathomas@ku.edu. The deadline for application is this Wednesday, December 3.

As we approach the end of another busy semester, I wish each and every one of you a productive and successful conclusion to the semester and a restful holiday season to follow.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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