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Archive for Monday, December 12, 2011

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

December 12, 2011

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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.

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.

Comments

Sean Livingstone 2 years, 4 months ago

My two cents: How can KU become a top-tier if:

  1. Its administration and administrative staffs have more power than faculties?
  2. Its faculties are discouraged to pursue new research opportunities whenever faculties hit a roadblock? In short, lawyers are there to stop "risky" research...? The sole role of some administrative unit is to reduce risks.... if we don't take risk in research, how can we broaden the program?
  3. Some rewards are given out base on seniority and playing the right politics, and numbers at time don't really count?
  4. Importance of faculty works is based on opinion by department (that can be very political), and not very objective (for example, money from a hard to get agency is equal to an easy to get in-university unit...).

I don't think KU can ever catch up with some of the more progressive universities, like Iowa State, University of Minnesota, University of Texas... it has an elite feel, but that's all it has. Of course, you can always ask me to leave... why leave when I'm trying my best to help my profession?

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 4 months ago

I agree that Topeka has been the root of the problem, but Brownback has given KU a tremendous opportunity by demanding that universities, including KU, improve.

His statement is justification to generate increased resources through the state or through tuition.

It is also an opportunity for KU to take measures to improve the quality of its faculty through a top to bottom performance review with teeth.

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LJD230 2 years, 4 months ago

KU was never, ever a top tier institution. The university is fortunate to have someone who led the academic mission of a major world class university as it's chancellor. As much as I love KU, the University of North Carolina has an equally rich basketball tradition and a far superior academic reputation than does the University of Kansas.

All the obstacles facing KU have their origin in Topeka. Here is a list of the trustees who govern the University of North Caroline:

http://www.unc.edu/depts/trustees/

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 4 months ago

It is about time and refreshing to see a chancellor actually making cogent arguments about the quality and potential of KU as Kansas's flagship research university.

It will be a tough row to hoe, but at least the change in attitude is a start.

In response to a few points above: 1) When was KU ever a top tier institution? I would like to see data.

2) Contrary to what was said, the best researchers often make the best teachers, because it takes a skilled, dedicated, and high-quality person to conduct high level research.

I would amend the statement by saying that mediocre researchers make mediocre or poor teachers. There are many mediocre researchers at KU.

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Les Blevins 2 years, 4 months ago

KU's Chancellor Gray-Little says; "The goal (for KU) 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." Well I say bully for her. These desirable goals were what the proposal I made to KU repeatedly over the past several years is about. I tried to explain to KU engineering how KU could take the leading position on the 3E project (energy, environment & economic recovery) I've undertaken and achieve the very desirable advances Chancellor Gray-Little now maintains KU should be pursuing. So Chancellor Gray-Little,, when you are ready to begin how about giving me a call to discuss how we can begin. I want to empower you and KU if you and KU are ready to be empowered.

Governor Brownback said when here in Lawrence; "“We need that person who has that entrepreneurial spirit and who says, ‘I’ve got a dream, and I know how to get things done.”" I have about 3,000 documents, and many of them are position papers and articles written by academics, that confirm the validity of my proposal, but KU has to open it’s collective mind to the possibilities my novel approach offers for my offering to be allowed in.

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Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 4 months ago

Please post for us the entire recommendation list. Only then can we tell what we are dealing with.

For my part, I was excited when Gray-Little joined KU, but I've really seen very little done in so many areas. Maybe it's time she moved on, if this recommendation list is what I am afraid it might be.

I will wait to see.

And, by the way, Thunderdome (above) makes a really good point. "And what exactly does top tier faculty mean? In my experience, a lot (not all) of "renowned" researchers make crappy teachers." That's true from my experience, and many I've talked to, as well. Aren't good teachers the most important thing at the college level? Teachers who can inspire others to open up new paths in their own lives.

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Thunderdome 2 years, 4 months ago

Toe,

KU doesn't need to raise admission standards...it needs to follow the standards already in place rather than bending the rules. Far too many students get in because of who they are or who they know instead of what they know. Regarding, increasing tuition, it is already outpacing student's ability to pay. The reality is that some faculty members (not all) and a large majority of upper level administrators make far too much money. There are way too many associate/assistant/vice deans/provosts/chancellors. At a time when the private sector continues to flatten in terms of management, KU and universities in general keep adding layer upon layer creating a managerial quagmire. The absolute wrong direction is to continue to force debt on students through increased tuition. And what exactly does top tier faculty mean? In my experience, a lot (not all) of "renowned" researchers make crappy teachers. So students pay more for instructors who don't really want to be in the classroom. Your points are well taken, but accessibility and quality of teaching, in addition to research, have to be high priorities as well.

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squawkhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

How about stop spending millions of dollars on worthless football coaches.

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toe 2 years, 4 months ago

KU WAS a top tier institution. These lame plans are getting in the way of key needs. Raise admission standards, increase tuition, fund research, support and hire top tier faculty, clear road blocks (Atkinson), hire administration members that understand tier one requirements. Stop pretending to be top tier and acknowledge the massive erosion in standing. That should help. Notice, increased state funding was never mentioned. Use what you have and demonstrate a convergence of vision and action.

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