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Archive for Friday, September 7, 2007

KU urged to build on recent gains

September 7, 2007

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Numbers are up, but need to go higher, Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway said Thursday during his faculty and staff convocation address.

Women and minority faculty are more numerous than ever before. Student enrollment is generally moving upward, though Hemenway said he expects a small decline this year. Research funding and national rankings have climbed as well. But, overall, Hemenway challenged his colleagues to help move the numbers even higher.

"We are a good university now, an even better university in the future," he said. "A university emerging to an even better level in the future."

Hemenway said the university soon would launch an effort to develop a campuswide comprehensive plan to promote growth and ambition. Hemenway said he hoped to have the plan completed by the spring.

That plan comes on the heels of a comprehensive plan from the university's largest academic unit, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, released this summer, and as other deans prepare their own schools' comprehensive plans.

"The value of a universitywide strategic plan is to take us to a new level in our development as the leading research university in the state. Our planning efforts from 10 years ago produced notable results, but it is time for us to join all of KU's separate parts into a plan for the future," Hemenway said in his address. "An overarching strategic plan will connect and build on this effort."

In discussing the strategic plan, Hemenway staked out several significant goals. He'd like to continue to increase the portion of students who graduate in four years. He also wants to take the current level of research funding - about $292 million - and soon increase it to $400 million.

KU Provost Richard Lariviere struck a note with the audience when he told the story of "Raul," a soon-to-be KU graduate who had to support his family by working 75 hours a week in addition to going to school.

He used the story as a device to encourage faculty and staff to be consistent in their drive to recruit more diverse faculty. Without minority faculty members, Lariviere said students such as Raul may choose not to come to KU.

"This is a necessity for KU not because it is politically correct, but because it is a necessity for the state of Kansas," Lariviere said in his speech. "For example, the fastest growing demographic in Kansas is the Hispanic community."

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