Chancellor Gray-Little prepares to share KU’s vision for improvement with Kansas Regents

At a time of fiscal constraints, Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little is hoping to get state leaders to sign onto the school’s vision for improvement.

Kansas University chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little talks with the Lawrence Journal-World on Dec. 12, 2011, in her office at Strong Hall.

The goals outlined in KU’s “Bold Aspirations” plan, which was unveiled earlier this year, will also lift the state as a whole, Gray-Little maintains.

“It is very much a push to make an outstanding University of Kansas that also benefits the state,” Gray-Little said Monday in an interview with the Journal-World.

Gray-Little will present KU’s strategic plan and goals on Wednesday to the Kansas Board of Regents.

The goal is to make KU a top-tier research university, delivering the kind of research that improves the health of Kansans, creates new sources of energy and other discoveries, and meets the state’s workforce needs.

Gray-Little said she would like KU to be in the middle of the pack of peer research institutions, such as Iowa University, North Carolina University and Colorado University.

She also wants to maintain the school’s membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities.

Accomplishing those goals will require more revenue at a time when the availability of funds is being squeezed at the federal, state and household level.

“That is what keeps you awake at night,” she said.

In the legislative session that starts next month, KU will ask the Kansas Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback for $3 million in new funding to hire highly sought-after research professors.

KU also is working on programs to increase graduation and retention rates. Also, she said KU is undergoing an active discussion on whether to increase student admission standards.

Brownback has called on all public universities in Kansas to improve their national academic rankings.