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Renewed Optimism

December 3, 2018

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 3 seconds

Dear students, staff, and faculty:

image of KU graduates and the state motto 'ad astra per aspera.'It’s not unusual for hard times and experiences to shape people in positive ways. Humans can be amazingly resilient. The same is true for the University of Kansas.

Our Lawrence campus budget reduction has forced us to make some hard decisions that have real consequences on faculty and staff and the students they interact with. During the next Campus Budget Conversation, (3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5, in Budig Hall Room 120) I’ll spend time reviewing some of those decisions. But I’ll also share an update on our efforts to craft a new budget model for KU. And that gives me hope.

I have a lot of optimism for our new budget model, because it will be distinctly KU. It will better reflect the changing realities of higher education and allow us to be more purposeful in how we utilize those resources. But more important, it will reflect the value and high regard with which we hold our people and our programs. And while we all want the budget model to be accessible and easy to understand, working toward that goal has demonstrated just how complex — and accomplished — our university is.

Since the start of the summer, our deans, vice provosts, and other campus leaders have been meeting regularly to work out details on creation of the new budget model. Moreover, since the start of the semester I’ve had countless meetings with small groups of faculty, staff, and students, as well as some larger group meetings that included all the chairs and directors in the College, as well as all the faculty and staff in some of the professional schools. Getting to talk this through with faculty, staff, and students all across campus has helped me introduce the concepts we’ve been wrangling, and allowed us to make many important changes in our approach based on feedback I’ve received. We are getting very close.

As I have presented our progress thus far, there are three positives that have emerged quite consistently. First, is how many people have been interested in hearing about our budget model and in contributing their honest and insightful feedback. Second, many individuals in the schools and the College have expressed relief that we aren’t considering moving to a model that is fully based in responsibility centered management (RCM). Full RCM models allocate budget for each unit based fully by the revenue that unit generates — most often through student credit hours. While it will be important for our model to ensure units have the resources they need to serve students, RCMs can create perverse incentives for generating credit hours and miss many of the other priorities that are at the heart of our university.

This brings me to the final theme, which is the favorable response to the idea that our budget model can include ways to support units that excel in advancing our strategic priorities:

  • research,
  • student success,
  • faculty and staff engagement,
  • outreach and impact beyond KU, and
  • diversity, equity, and inclusion.

While it will take some work to determine how we evaluate success in each of these areas, the inclusion of strategic priorities in our budget allows us to stress to the schools and the College and the academic service units, such as Campus Operations, Student Affairs, and Faculty Development, the importance of each of these priorities in how we achieve our mission and in how we allocate our budget.

At KU our mission is not to simply produce graduates without regard to quality. Our mission is to transform lives. That means engaging students with ideas, concepts, skills, and knowledge that offer them a broader understanding of society and the world, which they can apply to their chosen field and prepare them for life. That’s the competitive edge a degree from KU offers. That’s also the quality we need our budget model to properly fund and support.

Universities are noble places where ideas are clarified, beautiful works are crafted and problems are analyzed and solved. Most faculty entered academia because they believe in inquiry, they are passionate about their field, and they are energized by sharing their passion and knowledge with new generations.

As we prepare to close out this semester I want to leave you with a few thoughts. I’m extremely grateful for the students, faculty, and staff who make KU so distinctive and a treasure for this region. This past semester has been transformational for me, and I’m honored to have personally worked with so many of you.

What KU faculty and staff do matters deeply. The effort to reset our budget is truly an opportunity to protect our people and our programs and ensure KU is a fixture on the higher education landscape well into the future. And that is a goal that aligns with why many of us pursued a career in academia in the first place and one we can all be enthusiastic about.



News & Notes

The next Campus Budget Conversation begins at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5, in 120 Budig Hall. The event will be livestreamed and recorded for those who can’t attend in person. Individuals and small groups can also schedule office hours from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays to discuss budget concerns with Provost Lejuez.

The KU Edwards Campus opened a search for its Associate Vice Chancellor. Learn more about the position and requirements here. Marilu Goodyear, AVC for the last five years, has decided to return to her full-time faculty role in the School of Public Affairs & Administration. Her ongoing service and accomplishments are greatly appreciated. Qualified, diverse individuals are encouraged to apply.

The Office of Research has opened nominations for the KU Research Achievement Awards. One unclassified professional staff member conducting research and one postdoctoral researcher will be recognized for their tangible impact in their labs and projects. The honors also provide a $5,000 fund for professional development or approved research. Nominations are due Jan. 15, 2019.

Do you know a first-generation KU student, alumnus, faculty or staff member? Recognize their accomplishments and successes by nominating them by Dec. 7 for the first I Am First commemorative poster. Coordinated by KU’s TRIO SES & STEM, the poster will be unveiled on Jan. 31, 2019, and will feature 12 Jayhawks who have excelled as role models, trailblazers, and advocates of first-generation student success at KU.

Community Table is back! Members of the campus community are invited to meet others and build a stronger KU community over a free lunch from Ramen Bowls (while supplies last) from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5, at Anschutz Library. Students, please bring your KU ID. Sponsored by the Office of Diversity & Equity, KU Libraries and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Contributions to new projects on KU Endowment’s LaunchKU website can help students build tiny homes for disaster relief, support supply chain students during study abroad, make Formula 1-style racecars from scratch and conduct original child psychology research.

The University Core Curriculum Committee is conducting a survey to learn more about faculty, staff and student experiences with the KU Core. Individuals have through Dec. 15 to complete the survey. The committee hopes to share results with the campus community shortly after spring break.

All KU students are invited to the Finish Strong Late Night Breakfast sponsored by Undergraduate Studies and Student Affairs from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9, in Mrs. E’s and the Kansas Union Ballroom. Students should bring their student ID. Buses will run and parking in the Union Garage is free during the event. Good luck with finals and projects!

Topeka’s Highland Park High School Scots Theatre performers will present a production of Associate Professor of English Darren Canady’s play Black Butterflies at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 11, in the Lied Center Pavilion, The entire campus community is invited to attend this free performance written by one of our very own professors.

Students can take advantage of a Stress Busting Study Break several times this week and next, with the first opportunity from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., tonight in Anschutz Library. Coordinated by Watkins Health Services, the events includes Loving Paws therapy dogs, stress management tips, giveaways and more.

The Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity is accepting nominations for the KU Women’s Hall of Fame. The honor recognizes female-identified faculty, staff, affiliates and alumni who are of outstanding character, have achieved prominence in their disciplines and careers, and had an impact on a local or national level. Nominations are due by Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.

Laurie Ramirez in the School of Social Welfare added to her title, she is now associate professor of practice and liaison to Native communities. Ramirez is committed to the health and well-being of oppressed populations, particularly those of Indigenous populations. She develops helping relationships with Native communities in Kansas and the surrounding areas to engage tribal partners and welfare systems in community interventions. Ramirez has experience teaching classes in social work at Haskell Indian Nations University and serves as the advisor for Native students attending the School of Social Welfare.

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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