If you haven’t been to campus lately, you will be in for a surprise the next time you visit.
Several new building and renovation projects are changing the landscape for learning, with new or enhanced classroom and lab space. At the same time, we’re expanding the heart of campus westward. For example, where once stood the Burge Union and Stouffer Place apartments will soon be a state-of-the-art science building and new union. Our spring 2017 magazine cover story, “Constructive Development,” shares more detail on current projects and how they will benefit the learning and research experience of our students and faculty.
Other ways we’re improving the landscape for learning are less visible than facilities projects but no less important in our quest to be a leading student-centered, inclusive, research intensive College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The spring 2017 edition of our magazine is filled with highlights that demonstrate our progress in key areas.
You’ll also read about our mentoring program and new Winter Session. When it comes to student success, one of our guiding principles is to engage students in ways that support their needs and maintain academic rigor. With many demands on students’ time, we are implementing opportunities to help them better balance their coursework and extra-curriculars, such as research, volunteering and work. Our mentoring program for struggling students pairs them one-on-one with a faculty mentor to guide them through challenges and prioritization. Another initiative is our new Winter Session mini-semester. It’s the latest way in which we’re expanding online course offerings to allow students flexibility in when and where they can complete their requirements.
Additionally, I’m excited to share news regarding our research profile. Before I came to KU, I was well aware of the university’s reputation for research. KU is among a select group of universities in the nation known for excellence in education and research as a member of the Association of American Universities. Now that I’m on campus, I’m even more impressed at the talent of our scholars. Their work continually amazes me. Yet, I also found that our funding for research lags behind many of our peers. We are launching several initiatives, one of which is a new Research Excellence Fund to support the creative, scholarly works of our faculty researchers and the undergraduate and graduate students who work side by side with these leaders in their fields.
Undertaking all these endeavors and sustaining our efforts would be for naught without a framework to guide and assess our work. Two initiatives this year seek to keep us on track with our goals. Earlier this academic year, the College introduced its first plan for diversity, equity and inclusion. We’ve also spent this year devising a strategic plan. Both are crucial in ensuring we are creating an environment where our students, faculty and staff can thrive and the College can focus its efforts on the areas we recognize as providing the most impact for our stakeholders.
I am excited to share with you all the accomplishments and progress we’ve made over the last year. I hope, after reading our magazine, you’ll come away energized by where the College and its many talented Jayhawks are going.
Dean, KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
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