Abilene In a trip on Saturday to the north-central part of Kansas, Kansas University’s chancellor talked to an Abilene audience about new initiatives at KU, including a planned medical school campus in Salina.
Bernadette Gray-Little stayed mostly on common themes in her speech at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Museum and Library, talking about upcoming initiatives to improve student retention and graduation rates.
KU’s new four-year medical school campus in Salina drew the most questions from the audience, and Gray-Little said it would hopefully enroll its first class of eight students in 2011 or 2012. Eventually the campus would train 32 students full time.
“Ideally, that will increase the chances that they will stay here and practice in this area,” Gray-Little said.
The university will also soon undergo a series of efforts to improve student education, she said, including an early warning system that will alert officials when a student seems to be struggling academically, and a revision of KU’s general education requirements. Those haven’t been updated in 20 years, she said.
She also touched briefly on recent athletics news — though much of her talk was on academics, she told the audience that “there’s probably something else you’ve heard” about KU lately, too.
“Some of the news was bad,” Gray-Little said. “I want to assure you that we are taking decisive action to restore confidence in our ticketing procedures.”
Some of the news, however, was good, she said, saying how she was pleased that KU and Kansas State University were able to work together to pursue their common interest in remaining in the Big 12 Conference.
“We collectively believe that joint participation in the Big 12 is important for Kansas,” she said.
Gray-Little said the events of the past few weeks had showed her the importance athletics plays in the state of Kansas.
“However, it is the academic mission of the university — the teaching and the research — that is the main focus of the university, and that will help Kansas grow and prosper,” she said.
Kansas State University does a better job of recruiting the western part of the state, she said, and she told the audience that KU planned to step up its recruiting efforts there.
She said KU had about 75 students from the Abilene area now.
“But I believe we can have more,” she said.
Dale Emig, and his wife, Clarice Gertson Emig, of Abilene, were among the about 30 in the audience who heard the chancellor speak. They said they were the second of four generations who had attended KU.
“It really is K-State territory,” Dale Emig said. “It’s good for her to come and represent KU, and I think she represented it favorably.”