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Indigenous Peoples' Day Offers Timely Lesson

October 8, 2018

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 4 seconds.

Dear students, staff and faculty:

KU alumnus Chester Nez was one of the Navajo Code Talkers whose language skills proved invaluable during World War IIHistory is rewritten every day. Decades ago, the second Monday in October was typically marked as Columbus Day. These days, more and more communities are instead choosing to recognize the impact and history of the first people to inhabit North America.

As a university, we recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day — Oct. 8, 2018 — as a time to better understand and celebrate the cultural contributions of Native Americans to the nation and the University of Kansas.

The Value of Diversity

Dialogue, participation and involvement that include a variety of perspectives, experiences and backgrounds make a positive difference in our lives. No one person or group of people has or should have a monopoly on good ideas, governance, or ways of knowing or understanding our world. We are at our best when we are multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural. Our social identities — including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, abilities, religion/nonreligious, region, veteran status, citizenship status, and nationality — are many and intersecting. The complexities of our histories, cultures, and experiences move us toward a fuller understanding of ourselves and each other.

The importance of diversity — in its many forms — is undeniably integral to our potential as learners and professionals and to our individual life journeys.

Supporting diversity and inclusivity at universities is simply the right thing to do. It turns out it is also the practical thing to do. Corporate employers know the value that diversity brings to their bottom line. Researchers continue to document the economic benefits that accompany more representational diversity and a more inclusive culture: Increased innovation, competitive advantage and higher cash flow, to name a few. Employers want universities to prepare students from all backgrounds to enter the workforce ready to fully embrace their organization’s inclusive culture.

KU is committed to equity and inclusion both in hiring faculty and staff and in student admissions. KU also is compelled to provide a supportive environment free of barriers and distractions where individuals have the opportunity to achieve their goals. To remain relevant to employers and the State of Kansas, it is imperative that we strive to prepare a diverse group of innovators, leaders and professionals that represents the state and the nation and meets the demands of business, industry, and communities. Equally critical, we need all students to be prepared for the increasing diversity found in our national and global communities.

The Gift of Lifelong Learning

There are many goals in higher education, one of which is to instill and nurture a passion for lifelong learning. It is a gift to ourselves when we learn more about the people with whom we share campus. Students can find opportunities to build knowledge on diversity and equity in the classroom through modernized curriculum being developed in the College and our professional schools. Outside the classroom, everyone can visit the diversity, equity, and inclusion calendar for an updated list of events and activities that engage our community.

With the importance of diversity and inclusion in mind, I hope everyone in our community appreciates the meaning of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and shows their support by participating in what’s planned. The two major events will stretch beyond the cultural contributions of Native Americans to explore ongoing issues of conflict as well as opportunities for progress. Moreover, they will provide an important opportunity to recognize the multiple ways in which our indigenous students, faculty, and staff contribute meaningfully to the educational, research, and service mission at KU.

In the United States we have many other days, weeks and months that encourage us to recognize and celebrate diversity. With each of these events, we can take a moment to grow and change the course of our history.



News and Notes

Members of the KU Community are invited to the next campus budget conversation from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, in Budig Hall, Room 120. Topics will include financial interaction with KU Endowment and KU Athletics. The event will be livestreamed and recorded for those who cannot attend in person.

The due date for feedback on all candidates for vice chancellor for research has been extended to 4:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 15. Individuals who could not attend presentations in person can view videos of the candidates online.

Congratulations to University Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Jorge Soberón, who at the end of September was honored as the first of 30 Mexican nationals living abroad to be named Distinguished Mexicans.

Gregory J. Crichlow, Langston Hughes Visiting Professor of architecture at KU, will present “Citizen Architect” from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18, in Woodruff Auditorium of the Kansas Union.

The annual Crimson & Blue Day Open House on the Lawrence campus will be this Friday, Oct. 12, with tours, academic sessions and a student resource day for prospective students. Help make sure all visitors feel welcome at KU.

Chancellor Girod opened the call for nominations of mid-career faculty for the annual University Scholarly Achievement Awards. These awards represent a significant opportunity for scholars from all disciplines at the university. Nominations are due December 14.

Current Launch KU initiatives include legacy funds in honor of esteemed KU faculty, support to curb food insecurity of students through Campus Cupboard, a fund to support activities of University Honors Program students, and more.

The deadline for faculty and research staff to submit proposals for KU Research Grant Opportunity (GO) funds is November 1. Funded by the KU Office of Research, the program strives to expand KU’s research enterprise by supporting proposal preparation for external funding opportunities. 

Congratulations to Professor of Mathematics Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, who earlier this year was selected for a second term as the Institute of Engineering and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 2018 Global Chair of the Women in Engineering (WIE) Committee.

The recent renovation of the Spencer Museum of Art was one of 100 international building and urban planning projects to be honored with a 2018 International Architecture Award, organized by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

The Dole Institute of Politics will present “Big Sonia” Screening and Filmmaker Q&A from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at the Dole Institute. “Big Sonia” looks at one of the last Holocaust survivors in the Kansas City area and provides a portrait of the power of love and hope over bigotry. A Q&A will follow the screening with filmmaker Leah Warshawski, Sonia’s granddaughter. 

The University Ombuds Office will offer “Ask the KU Ombuds” Twitter Q&A all day, Thursday, Oct. 11, to help people understand the services of ombuds. Engage with the office on Twitter at @KUOmbuds. Individuals without Twitter can send questions by email, ombuds@ku.edu. Questions with identifying information should be sent by email or through Twitter direct message.

This weekend marks the start of fall break, and Facilities Services staff will use the break to perform needed infrastructure work. Water and steam to several Lawrence campus buildings will be shut off for several hours beginning Saturday, Oct. 13. Work is expected to be completed the same day. For all who have journeys scheduled during this time, safe travels.


Provost's Message Signature: 


Carl Lejuez

Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

Follow me on Twitter at @KUProvostCarl and the Provost Office at @KUProvost. Join the office on Facebook at /KUprovostoffice/. Join the office on Instagram at /KUprovost/.

This issue of Provost's Message as well as past messages from this office can be found on the Provost's Message web page25.

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