A recent column in the Lawrence Journal-World questioned what Kansas University does to highlight the accomplishments of its distinguished professors. As a distinguished professor myself, I want to take this opportunity to detail how KU supports its top faculty.
It goes without saying that KU is proud of its distinguished professors. They enhance the educational experiences of our students, conduct cutting-edge research in dozens of fields and provide services that benefit the people of Kansas.
KU wants to highlight these individuals. Dozens of times throughout the year, KU issues news releases about their accomplishments, publishes articles in the Oread, KU's campus newsletter, and proposes stories to media outlets directly.
Now, whether the accomplishments of these first-rate academics and researchers are covered in the local newspaper or on TV is beyond the power of KU to decide.
But other than seeking coverage for distinguished faculty in the sometimes fickle media, KU has a number of other, more concrete ways it supports these professors.
The KU administration directs funds from KU Endowment to provide additional compensation to recruit and retain these highly sought-after faculty.
Additionally, many distinguished professors receive unrestricted research funding from endowments in order to pursue projects and research that advances the boundaries of knowledge in their fields. This knowledge can then be shared with students and other researchers, further spreading the benefits of having such outstanding faculty on campus.
All told, these financial commitments to distinguished professors total more than $2 million a year, but they're worth it because of the benefits that accrue from having world-class faculty at KU.
I'm thrilled to see that the Journal-World has a desire to provide greater coverage of KU's academic achievements, as well as its athletic accomplishments. Indeed, I'd like to suggest that the newspaper devote a section each day to academics, just as it devotes a section to sports.
If that isn't feasible, then perhaps a weekly feature on one of the 64 distinguished professors at KU would be in order. Additionally, each new distinguished professor gives a public "inaugural lecture" on campus, which provides another opportunity for news coverage.
I know KU would be more than happy to provide information on these individuals, and given the publisher of the Journal-World's stated interest, we would relish seeing the newspaper provide a forum for highlighting these academic top-performers in the same manner that our athletic performers are rightfully spotlighted.