• Home
  • Celebrating Our Local Leaders

Celebrating Our Local Leaders

April 23, 2018

Estimated reading time: 5 min., 14 sec.

Dear students, staff, and faculty:

The forest for the trees — sometimes it can be hard to recognize all the work taking place because we are so focused on efforts of our own.

Mental health peer educators in the first class of HOPE @ CAPS. The students help reduce the stigma associated with mental health and connect others to resources.The University of Kansas is constantly evolving, and what I truly love about our advances is that they are found throughout the institution and they rise from visionaries at all levels and places at the university. Initiative and leadership — taking steps to address a need and getting others to support the effort — are abundant at the University of Kansas.

A little less than two years ago, I asked all students, staff, and faculty to share with me ideas and observations to make KU better. Many on campus responded, and many others saw it as a sign to bring their concepts and passions to campus and breathe life into them.

I am continually inspired by the leaders I have encountered during my time at KU. There are far too many of them to list here, but I want to offer you a few examples of the many standout leaders at KU and the work they are doing to serve the institution and the State of Kansas.

  • Technology Manager Suzie Johannes in KU IT has been leading a re-envisioning of IT Client Consulting into KU TIE (Technology Instruction and Engagement). She and her team have developed a strategic approach that strives to ensure all members of campus are empowered to efficiently achieve their academic and work goals through effective use of the technologies available to them. 
  • Stephonn Alcorn, a 2017 finance graduate, and current master of accounting student Gabby Naylor had the idea for the Summer Venture in Business program, which launched in summer 2017. The program is a three-day, pre-college experience for underrepresented high school students interested in business. It familiarizes them with collegiate life both in and out of the classroom.
  • Associate professor in the School of Architecture and Design Joe Colistra, launched the KU Institute for Smart Cities, an interdisciplinary effort to design and plan data-driven smart environments that can improve livability for citizens while conserving resources.
  • Laura Sellers and a team of general maintenance technicians in Facilities Services took on lighting issues as they moved about campus. The team is in a perfect position to check on lighting needs in buildings as they address their first responsibility, moving large items such as furniture and equipment on the Lawrence campus. They take advantage of the ebb and flow in their assigned tasks to change the burned-out bulbs they encounter and are now trained by Facilities Services electricians to do simple ballast repairs, which promotes efficiency and liberates electricians to work on more complicated tasks.
  • Deputy CIO Eric Freeze and his team have been working on Wireless First to implement a next-generation Wi-Fi network on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses. The effort recognizes that much of our campus is still fitted for a wired world, where our work and activities are increasingly served through the advanced portable devices we carry in our pockets, purses, and backpacks.
  • Scott Reinardy, associate dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, coordinates the Statehouse Reporting class, which places news and information students under the dome in Topeka and shares their reports with dozens of cash-strapped news organizations across the state. Students get hard-won experience. Residents of Kansas get information they need to make informed decisions about lives and their government.
  • Eric Thomas, J-School lecturer and director of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association, was instrumental in ongoing advising of Pittsburg High School student journalists last year when they investigated and challenged the credentials of the newly hired principal who subsequently resigned. Their work received national news coverage and won national awards.
  • Alex Terwilliger, Leavenworth Student Services Manager, has been integral to the growing success of KU’s presence in Leavenworth. Students there attend classes at both the Command and General Staff College as well as KU. Terwilliger’s close understanding of the military experience, his partnership with the community and understanding of the curricular needs and the work-life balance concerns of military students is creating transformational outcomes for KU and the students.   
  • Psychologist Christian Vargas, Ph.D., of Counseling And Psychological Services launched HOPE @ CAPS this year. Vargas hired, trained, and now supervises a diverse group of students who work as mental health peer educators. The team is dedicated to reducing the mental health stigma as they help all KU students connect to mental health resources at CAPS and in the community.
  • Jami Jones, learning and development specialist, and the learning and development team of Human Resource Management for their work on KU’s Aspiring Leaders course. The program, which began under the auspices of the Shared Service Centers, is being broadened to include other staff members under Administration & Finance at KU.
  • Several individuals in the School of Education have been involved in revamping and launching a number of graduate programs that address needs and capture growing demand. Assistant Professor Jordan Bass in the Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science has just launched the online master’s in sport management and Associate Professor Young-Jin Lee in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies has been building the online master’s in educational technology. Associate Dean Lisa Wolf-Wendel and Professor and Chairperson Susan Twombly of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies have refreshed and converted the Ed.D. in higher education administration into a hybrid program that is fostering timely completion while also attracting a diverse class of students.

By now you know when I said “a few” it was a trap to keep you reading. I can go on and on. The truth is these leaders and innovators are in no way isolated or singular at KU. They are all around us, successfully furthering the mission of their respective units and of the university. These 11 examples simply show you the degree to which innovation, care, and dedication reside at KU.

This is my last campus-wide Strong Ties message to you as KU’s provost and executive vice chancellor. To the extent that I have succeeded, it is entirely because of the excellent leaders and teams I have worked with, first as dean of the School of Business, and then as provost. My gratitude to each of you is immense. It’s through your involvement and inspired leadership that KU excels as a world-class institution.



News & Notes

Chancellor Douglas Girod was installed as KU’s 18th chancellor on Friday. The Inauguration events and celebration continue this week with the dedication of the Earth, Energy and Environment Center; the Center for Service Learning’s Service Celebration; the Grand Reopening of the Burge Union; the Rock Chalk Ball; and a performance by the KU Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble I at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Congratulations to the five KU faculty members who will be honored today, Monday, April 23, with the 2018 University Scholarly Achievement Awards. Please join professors Kathleen Lynn Lane, Xiaogang Li, Laura Moriarty, Leigh Stearns, and Jon Tunge at the event hosted by Chancellor Douglas Girod at 4:30 p.m., in the Commons of Spooner Hall.

The Spencer Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum are joining forces for the Day of Creativity. The public is invited to join the museums and a number of community partners for performances, demonstrations, and hands-on activities at the two museums from noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, April 29. Then on Wednesday, May 2, attend the Inside Big Botany lecture, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium. Rice University professor Timothy Morton will examine humankind’s relationship with the natural world.

The Center for Research Methods and Data Analysis will hold its annual Summer Statistical Institute from May 21 through June 8. Faculty and staff may be able to apply grant funding and an early bird rate is available for students through April 15. Sessions include Statistical Software: R; Python Data Science; and Structural Equation Models. Full details and registration is available on the Stats Camp web page.

A team of accounting students in the School of Business won third place at Deloitte’s National Audit Innovation Campus Challenge, hosted April 6-7 at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas. The team included accounting students C.J. Moddelmog, Jeffrey Smith, Libby Kaufman, Emily Simpson, Curtis Hoover and Branson Tomlinson. Accounting lecturer Josh Arpin served as faculty advisor.

Commencement is quickly approaching. Graduates should refer friends and family to the commencement.ku.edu website for up-to-date information. Departments and organizations are encouraged to ensure their recognition events are listed on the KU Calendar.

Congratulations to Center for Teaching Excellence Director Dea Greenhoot who was appointed to be associate alliance director for the Bay View Alliance earlier this year. The BVA, of which KU is a member, is an international network of research universities exploring strategies and widespread adoption of instructional methods that lead to better student learning. 

Two noteworthy announcements from KU Public Safety Office: Sgt. John Dietz was promoted to the role of deputy chief of patrol for KU Police; and Deputy Chief James Anguiano recently completed the FBI - Law Enforcement Executive Development Association's Leadership Trilogy – Supervisor Leadership Institute, Command Leadership Institute, and Executive Leadership Institute. Congratulations to both.

The annual Undergraduate Research Symposium begins at 12:45 p.m., Saturday, April 28, in the Kansas Union. The popular event features original student research, displays, oral presentations, talks and performances, as well as selected ACE Talks – Accessible, Creative, and Engaging talks – designed to appeal to a broad audience. All undergraduates, as well as mentors, family, and friends of presenters are encouraged to attend.

Beginning August 2018, residents of legal drinking age in individual apartments in the new Stouffer Place, Jayhawker Towers, McCarthy Hall, and Sunflower Apartments will be able to own and consume alcohol on campus in an amount consistent with personal consumption. The KU Student Housing policy change reflects trends seen elsewhere at Kansas Board of Regents institutions as well as at Big XII schools. Possession or consumption of alcohol, regardless of age, will still be prohibited in residence halls and scholarship halls.

The Student Parent Graduation Celebration, believed to be KU’s first such event, gives new meaning to the phrase Jayhawk Family. The Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity, The Student Involvement and Leadership Center, and Hawks with Hawklets invite student parents and their families to the celebration from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, May 3, in the Kansas Room of the Kansas Union. Please RSVP by April 25.

Friday, April 27, marks 140 years since KU’s first Arbor Day that involved students planting trees throughout campus. The Center for Sustainability will mark the occasion and also recognize leaders across campus as sustainability leaders at the center’s annual awards ceremony. It begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Potter Lake Dance Pavilion.




Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk,

Neeli Bendapudi

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

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

This issue of Strong Ties as well as past ones can be found on the Provost Strong Ties web page25.

Office of the Provost
Feedback/Let Us Know

Do you have a concern, or would you like to offer your thoughts on a proposal put forward by this office?

The Provost Office offers an anonymous form so you can raise issues important to you or respond to issues and activities on campus. 

Let Us Know.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Several initiatives are furthering efforts to ensure KU offers a welcoming and supportive environment for all to learn, live, work, and discover.

RT @KUAdvising : New Instagram Post! Lets talk schedule changes - you’ve gotten emails about checking your schedule, now we want to make su…

Policy Library Search

Visit the Policy Office for more information.

Green Office

Why KU
  • One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
  • 44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
  • 5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times