Archive for Saturday, February 4, 2012

KU video doesn’t replace live speech from chancellor

February 4, 2012


Times change, sometimes for the better, sometimes not for the better.

A recent Heard on the Hill blog by Andy Hyland on the Journal-World’s website told of a major change at Kansas University. Hyland reported that Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little would not be delivering the annual State of the University address this year.

Instead of the address, usually delivered in Budig Hall, the annual assessment of the University in the chancellor’s eyes takes the form of an 8.5-minute video released by KU on Monday.

The blog reports that switching to a video was the chancellor’s idea. The KU spokesman said the video has two advantages. First, it is available to all KU campuses, and, in addition, alumni and stakeholders get to watch. Secondly, it’s possible to show the students, faculty and staff who are responsible for the stuff that’s being talked about.

The blog points out that the State of the University speech hasn’t been a long historical event, although past chancellors have used the annual faculty-staff convocation, now called the all-university convocation, to outline the chancellor’s assessment of how KU is doing and what challenges lie ahead.

Unfortunately, for one reason or another, attendance has been poor at these events and has been growing poorer year by year. In fact, when chancellors have addressed the faculty, the percentage of faculty in attendance has been embarrassing. Perhaps one of the reasons Gray-Little decided a video presentation was a better idea was the likelihood that attendance at a live speech would be embarrassingly low.

“State of the University 2012” is a good show — a slick, well-produced, video that gives an excellent, thumbnail overview of the university. The precisely scripted and narrated presentation by Gray-Little is sure to be used in the upcoming capital campaign for KU. Such an effort is long overdue as KU has been far too complacent in telling its story.

Granted, thousands of KU alumni, faculty, students and friends will see and hear the message — many, many times more than would have seen and heard the chancellor in a routine “state of the university” address. What would have been better, however, would be for the chancellor to present her remarks live to a Lied Center audience. If the chancellor is eager to show the individuals responsible for positive, helpful actions or achievements on campus, she could have invited them to share the stage with her.

An inspirational, visionary message by Gray-Little along with a video in a packed Lied Center could do wonders for the university as well as for the chancellor. Lawrence area friends and supporters of the university, as well as students and faculty, want to see the chancellor in person delivering a powerful and compelling story for the school. They like to see and judge the degree of enthusiasm of the chancellor and his or her ability to inspire and excite an audience about the university and its future.

Maybe the reason attendance has been dwindling is that chancellors have not been delivering exciting, visionary, inspiring speeches. Chances are attendance would be up if there were reason to believe the university’s leaders could be counted on to deliver a talk that had become a “must” for faculty and students. The talk or program could be spiced up by having others, in addition to the chancellor, participating and playing a big role in telling the university’s story. The event could, and should, be used to rally support for the school. KU faculty members and students need reasons to become excited about the university and where it’s headed. Morale is not as good as it should be!

Maybe the 8.5-minute video will do the job, but something has been lost when faculty and students, alumni and friends cannot have a firsthand, in-person, ringside seat to watch and hear their chancellor in action. A short video, no matter how well done, doesn’t have the same impact.


oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 2 months ago

The Chancellor is moving the university into the technology age. She can have the message sent the same way KU contacts students about emergencies on campus.

If Mr. Simons believes being in person would be good, this is a challenge to him to hold a town meeting with him in attendance in person and field questions from the audience. Now that would be mighty fine Go Jayhawk.


konzahawk 2 years, 2 months ago

I think this is a good idea. I would never be able to attend the speech in person. With this new approach, I watched the video Monday evening when I got home from work. BGL has put forth many initiatives to help strengthen KU. Based on his weekly rants, Dolph is desperately hoping none of them succeed.


lward 2 years, 2 months ago

The Chancellor is too busy to speak live? Why not give the speech live, record it, and put that out on the web.


tomatogrower 2 years, 2 months ago

So now hundreds of people can see the speech whenever they find the time, as opposed to whoever can get to the auditorium? I would call that good communication. Also, there would be less money spent on utilities and staff to take care of the logistics. Why not keep up with technology, Dolph?


observant 2 years, 2 months ago

Dolph is unhappy that he inherited a dying business and not the right to be Chancellor so he could turn KU into a failure.


Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 2 months ago

Would it be possible to convince Dolph to strap thousands of balloons to his house and float away to South America?

It is a popular activity for cantankerous old men.


Mark Jakubauskas 2 years, 2 months ago

Oh, blow it out the other end, Dolph. Get your head out of the 1950s. Gray-Little is operating in the 21st century....methinks you have a few decades of catching up to do. I think it's great she sent round a video address, since I've never gone to the convocations and I doubt most of KU has. I don't get paid by KU to spend the morning trucking up to the Lied to listen to a speech that may be not have a direct or immediate bearing on what I do, but I AM more likely to take a few minutes to check out her online speech. Ditto every other student, staff, faculty, alumni, and supporter of KU. Your column contradicts itself - first you note that such events have had "attendance has been poor at these events and has been growing poorer year by year" then you suggest that the chancellor would be speaking to a "packed Lied Center." Well, which is it ?


ashmole 2 years, 2 months ago

Chancellor Do-Little is less afraid of a small audience than a hostile one: she obviously is not good thinking on her feet and sems to be downright chicken when it comes to taking questions from faculty about her vision and leadership. New administrators are usually very open to interchange and only grow more reclusive and unwilling to interact with faculty as their terms go on (and their accomplishments are revealed to be minimal). The fact that Do-Little is starting out this way is not promising at all.


Jack Martin 2 years, 2 months ago

If you'd like to see the "excellent, thumbnail overview of the university" referenced above you can watch it at

And if you'd like to see a live speech in the Lied Center, faculty, staff, students and the community are always invited to Convocation. The Chancellor speaks at this event, with the most recent Convocation address by Chancellor Gray-Little being honored for excellence by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education-District VI. You can read it here:


observant 2 years, 2 months ago

How would we survive if Dolph didn't almost weekly provide us with an anti KU rant?


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