Heard on the Hill
The KU faculty, staff and student governance meetings I check out on occasion can venture into some esoteric territory. (Thursday I witnessed a debate that featured several folks weighing in on whether a proposed policy could be described as "Byzantine.") But they can also be quite educational.
For instance, Thursday at a University Senate meeting I learned that KU does not provide as much tuition assistance for its faculty or staff or, especially, their spouses or dependents as some other universities around the state and the nation, at least according to a report from a task force that had looked into the subject. (That's the other thing about these governance groups: There are a lot of task forces. Task forces and committees, of the standing and non-standing varieties.)
The group was led by Donna Ginther, a professor of economics, and it reported that KU's policies on tuition support for faculty, staff and their families lagged behind other Board of Regents institutions and a selection of seven "peer" universities from around the country, for the most part.
KU allows faculty and staff who work at least half-time to apply to take one free course each semester, for up to five credit hours, which theoretically allows for up to 15 credits per year if you factor in the summer term. However, that policy doesn't apply to anyone who has a doctoral degree, which obviously counts out a lot of faculty. And it does not stretch to spouses, children or dependents. KU is the only Regents university that doesn't offer assistance to dependents, and one of only two (along with Washburn) not to offer it for spouses.
Kansas State University, for example, allows for a few free credit hours for spouses or children of faculty or staff each semester, with a few qualifiers. K-State reported to the group that it provides just shy of $1 million worth of tuition assistance each year, on average. KU's estimated cost is around $275,000 per year.
There is one big caveat: The children and dependents of KU employees and faculty are eligible for a merit scholarship from Coca-Cola, as part of the company's beverage deal with KU, for up to $1,000 per year. That covers about three credit hours, at the tuition rate paid by incoming freshmen for 2012-13. According to the report, that scholarship paid a bit more than $150,000 in tuition for 185 students this academic year.
Anyway, as you might expect, the faculty, student and staff representatives who put this report together recommended that KU expand its assistance. They suggested expanding it to all faculty and staff with at least six months' service and their dependents, spouses or domestic partners, and also providing more credit hours' worth. The group reported it was tough to guess exactly what that might cost, maybe somewhere between $400,000 and $1 million. It suggested KU pay for that with savings from its Changing for Excellence efficiency campaign.
Ginther argued in Thursday's meeting that the expanded assistance might help KU, too, perhaps making it more attractive to potential faculty. And, she said, the children of faculty and staff might likely be pretty good students that KU would like to recruit.
University Senate president Chris Crandall said he guessed that the university administration would be unlikely to make that change right at the moment, as budget matters are uncertain. But the faculty, staff and students at the meeting Thursday voted unanimously to send the recommendation and the accompanying report to Provost Jeff Vitter.
No KU tuition assistance is available for Heard on the Hill bloggers, and even if it were, their bosses would probably frown upon that arrangement. But you can offer me your own form of assistance: KU news tips. Send 'em to email@example.com.
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The calendar has flipped into May, which means folks at KU are no doubt quite busy with the semester's end approaching and a bit melancholy because they have only one more chance this semester to come to Heard on the Hill Office Hours (one week from today, 9 a.m. to noon in the Media Crossroads at the Kansas Union).
But here's something to distract you from all that (well, don't forget about the office hours part): your weekly-or-so collection of KU-related tidbits from around the Internet.
• CNN had a piece this week on the art of horse taxidermy, and alert readers might know immediately why there might be a KU connection there: KU's Natural History Museum is the home of Comanche, the legendary horse that survived the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 and was preserved by Lewis Lindsay Dyche, who helped found the museum. CNN talked with Leonard Krishtalka, director of the museum and the KU Biodiversity Institute, about Comanche and taxidermy.
• Also at CNN, via Real Simple magazine, is this story about temper tantrums that has a good deal of input from Robert Harrington, a KU professor of psychology and research in education.
• The Wichita Eagle asked Scott Reinardy, associate professor of journalism, for his thoughts on the bid by Koch Industries to purchase the newspapers owned by the Tribune Co. (Update: This previously linked to a Kansas City Star story, but the Eagle is actually the publication of origin — my mistake.)
• The Daily Kansan today reports that students at KU who've received Pell grants have been less likely to graduate than other students, which is in line with trends around the country.
• Last week brought another update from Leobardo Espinoza Jr., the Topeka high-schooler blogging about his choice among KU and some other colleges for The New York Times. Sounds like he's largely narrowed his choices to KU, Yale and Amherst College in Massachusetts. It appears KU's not exactly a front-runner, but it's in consideration, and you can read to see why.
• And finally, I'll share two other NYT links that aren't directly related to KU but might be interesting if you'd like to read more about developments in online education after reading our update over the weekend on KU's strategies in that area. The two stories both describe how some universities and colleges are using free Massive Open Online Courses as tools in their on-campus classes. They're an interesting look at one of many possible ways forward for higher education as budgets tighten and online tools increase.
So there — if you took full advantage of that linkfest, you probably distracted yourself for a good 10 minutes or so. In return, take another 30 seconds to send a KU news tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thanks in equal part to an upper-respiratory infection for a certain reporter and a lack of event announcements sent his way this week, our weekly KU events roundup is a bit late and a bit brief. But it's still here, for your planning purposes:
• First up, later today: At 4 p.m. in the Pine Room at the Kansas Union, author Maija Rhee Devine will read excerpts from a new book of hers set in Korea during the Korean War, "The Voices of Heaven." And she writes from experience: She grew up in Korea while the war was going on, and she even had to flee the city of Seoul while it was under siege. This is being put on by the Center for East Asian Studies, and program assistant Susan Henderson says Devine is the only woman from that generation in Korea to have written an English-language novel about the war.
• Later this week: A bunch of KU offices are collaborating to screen a documentary called "The Desert of Forbidden Art," 5 p.m. Thursday at the Spencer Museum of Art. It's about how a painter in the Soviet Union collected thousands of pieces of banned art and stashed them in a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, even tricking Soviet authorities into giving him funding by pretending he was buying state-approved works. The filmmaker, Tchavdar Georgiev, will speak and answer questions afterward.
• And later on Thursday is the annual Dole Lecture at the Dole Institute of Politics, to be given by retired Brig. Gen. Carl Reddel. Set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the institute, the talk will be about the legacy of President Eisenhower and the controversial effort to build an Eisenhower memorial in Washington, D.C. Reddell is the executive director of the group charged with that effort, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission.
No doubt there are many more happenings than these three going on this week, and if there's one you think should be noted, add it right in below in the comments. And get those KU news tips to email@example.com.
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It's been awhile since we've checked in on the development of post-tenure review for KU faculty, which is set to go into place about one year from now because of a new Kansas Board of Regents policy.
KU's faculty governance leaders have been thinking hard about the concept over the past few months, hoping to have a strong voice in what happens. Faculty hold the concept of tenure very dear, saying it guarantees them the freedom to do research without outside influence, so a change in how tenured professors are evaluated is naturally going to draw some attention. (KU's policy says faculty who've earned tenure can be dismissed only for adequate cause, unless a program is discontinued or there's some sort of extraordinary financial emergency. Faculty will tell you it's a myth that tenure equals guaranteed lifelong employment).
And now we know a bit more about what "post-tenure review" might mean for KU faculty members. At the direction of Provost Jeff Vitter, a committee of faculty from around the Lawrence campus has created a proposed policy for post-tenure review. It may not surprise you to hear that the policy is pretty lengthy and detailed (it was written by a bunch of professors, plus one librarian), but here are a few quick takeaways:
• It would require each faculty member who's earned tenure to undergo a post-tenure review once every seven years, with a few exceptions. That's on the high end of the interval specified by the Board of Regents, which asked for reviews every five to seven years. That means a lot of professors wouldn't go through the process until nearly 20 years into their careers, as faculty must be considered for tenure by their sixth year, and KU expects them to apply to be promoted to full professor from associate professor about five or six years after that (as Vitter notes in this letter here). A promotion like that would reset the clock on post-tenure review.
• The idea of these reviews would be to get a long-range view of where a faculty member's career is headed. Faculty would still undergo annual evaluations as they do now.
• The review would be conducted by other tenured faculty in the person's university unit, then passed through one or two levels of administrators and ultimately to the provost, who would either accept it or call for a "university level" review.
• The policy lists some possible results that could come out of each review. This would include recognition for faculty who've performed better than expected, perhaps in the form of nomination for a promotion or award (other ideas thrown out by faculty, per some meeting minutes, included a salary bump, a reduction in teaching responsibilities for a year or free KU basketball tickets). Another result might be changes or support for a faculty member to either continue to develop or to improve in areas that need improvement, which could include "differential allocation of effort" — that means directing a professor to focus more on teaching or research, rather than focusing equally on both, depending on which one is a strength. Finally, one possible result would be a recommendation for the member to be fired, though it would need to be according to the policies that already exist for that.
Some explanatory comments sum things up by saying "the primary focus of post-tenure review is faculty development." (That is, its main purpose isn't to be correctional.) The whole policy is posted for viewing online here, and the leaders of the effort want other faculty to read it over and offer their thoughts.
Faculty governance leaders say Vitter has given indications he generally approves of the policy, and those faculty also approve, even if they probably wouldn't have created the policy if they hadn't been required to. The aim is for faculty to approve a final policy in fall 2013, to go into place in fall 2014.
This has been your dive into the word-filled deep end of the university policy swimming pool for the week. Time to come up for air. Help me do that by sending me another KU news tip, quick, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Yesterday was Earth Day, and it was also the day results were announced and winners were recognized in the now-annual competition among KU campus buildings to save the most energy. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think those two things might be connected.
Anyway, this is the second year for the KU "Lights Out" contest, which is sponsored by the KU Center for Sustainability as well as the Overland Park firm Energy Solutions Professionals, which conducted a $25 million energy savings audit for KU.
The results, per Tim O'Kane, marketing director for ESP: Nunemaker Center, the home of the KU Honors Program, won the contest with an energy savings of 31 percent compared with the week before the competition started. Lindley Hall, headquarters of the geology and geography departments, finished second with 19.7 percent savings, and Smith Hall, home of the religious studies department, came in third with 19.4 percent.
Among the 14 buildings that took part in the contest, most of which are used by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the average savings was 9.2 percent, O'Kane reported. Those savings, he said, eliminated about 157,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over the six-week period of the contest. That's equivalent to the yearly emissions of 15 vehicles (or 8,000 gallons of gasoline), or the electricity used in a year by 10.7 homes.
Your Heard on the Hill energy savings tip for the day: turn off the lights wherever you are, turn your thermostat down low and bundle up so you can offset the electricity you use when you send your KU news tips to email@example.com today.
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You know, we're less than a month away from KU's commencement, and I'm getting emotional because on Wednesday morning will be the next-to-last Heard on the Hill Office Hours of the entire semester. So if you'd like a chance to talk to me about our KU news coverage or want to say bye before we all go our separate directions this summer (well, I'll still be here, I guess), you've only got two more chances. I'll be at the Media Crossroads in the Kansas Union from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday.
And here's your list of other KU-related things going on this week:
• Today is Earth Day, and appropriately enough, two speakers will be visiting campus this week to talk about climate change. First up is former Congressman Bob Inglis, who'll give a talk called "The Environment and Energy: The Role of Free Enterprise and the Government" at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Dole Institute of Politics. Inglis, a Republican, served in Congress from 1993 to 1998 and again from 2005 to 2011.
Then, coming on Thursday will be David Orr, a distinguished professor of environmental studies and politics at Oberlin College. His talk will be called "Finding the Political Will to Reverse Climate Change," and it will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kansas Union. Orr has written seven books and some 200 articles and other pieces, and he's part of several environmental efforts.
• On a somewhat related note, the KU Energy Club will put on its third annual KU Energy Conference on Thursday at The Oread hotel. The keynote speaker is Greg Rorrer, a former director of sustainability for the National Science Foundation. More info is available at this site. Attendance is free for KU students, faculty or staff and $50 for others. Either way, you'll need to register ahead of time at that link.
• On Wednesday and Thursday are two forums about KU's master plan, which is being formed right now. I went to the first two forums on the subject and learned some interesting stuff about a number of topics, including what times during the week the most KU classrooms are in use.
• At 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center is a three-on-three basketball tournament that will raise money for the Jayhawk Health Initiative, a program for undergraduates planning on health-related careers that will send a "Medical Brigade" to Panama in May to provide some health care there. Registration is $30, and there's a $300 prize. There will be brackets for both students and alumni, and teams are co-ed. You can register online right here.
• People use the word "unique" too much, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say this event will truly be unique: A percussion quartet comprised of four doctoral students in the KU School of Music, called Ad Astra Percussion, is performing a concert that intrigues me. The group will perform a premiere of a piece it commissioned from composer Dave Hollinden, but what's most interesting for me, at least, are the instruments they'll be using: nine tom-toms, nine skillets, nine flower pots and nine things they call "boos," which are wooden contraptions the students built themselves. A "boo," which they play by striking it with mallets, looks like this:
That concert is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Swarthout Recital Hall, inside Murphy Hall.
It's entirely possible that I've missed something of interest, but if that's the case, just add it in below in the comments. And seriously, you guys, the days left in this school year are slipping away, and don't let it end without coming to see me at my Office Hours. In the meantime, you can send your KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jen Humphrey with the KU Natural History Museum jumped in below to add that there's another one of the museum's Science on Tap events at Free State Brewing Co. downtown tonight (Tuesday). Appropriately enough for an event taking place at a brewery, the topic will be how microbes in your gut interact with alcohol.
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KU links: KU offering multiyear athletic scholarships; Topeka college-choice blogger accepted to Yale
At the end of a busy week, here's your weekly-or-so roundup of KU news, notes and mentions from around the Internet.
• KU is leading the way among Big 12 universities in offering multiyear scholarships to athletes, according to this report from the Chronicle of Higher Education (It's behind a subscriber paywall). However, only 16 of KU's 354 scholarship athletes for 2012-13 have multiyear awards.
That's more or less in line with what the Chronicle found at other universities. It surveyed the public universities in the six biggest athletic conferences, and nearly all offered either a fairly small number of multiyear scholarships or none at all.
A new NCAA policy effective in August 2012 allows programs to offer multiyear scholarships to athletes for the first time. The change was made after the previous policy requiring renewable one-year awards drew some criticism. Critics — including a Florida State University sports management instructor quoted by the Chronicle — say the one-year deals could allow coaches to push athletes out of their scholarships because of athletic performance. A number of athletic administrators quoted defended the practice, saying the one-year scholarships provide an incentive for athletes to get good grades and stay out of legal trouble.
The Big 12 conference opposed the new NCAA rule, the Chronicle reports, and KU was the only Big 12 university that reported it awarded more than two multiyear scholarships this year (though the report didn't get counts from Baylor or TCU, both private universities, and the University of Oklahoma didn't report how many it awarded).
The University of Illinois embraced multiyear scholarships to a much higher degree than any other school in the study: This year, 192 of its 370 scholarship athletes have multiyear awards.
• We've got another dispatch from Leobardo Espinoza Jr., the Topeka high-schooler and New York Times blogger who's been offered a full-ride scholarship to KU. The big news is that he's been accepted to Yale University and placed on a wait list at Stanford, both of which he writes about with his usual candor. He says he's now pondering four options that he says will all cost him "little or no money," while also waiting to hear from Stanford: KU, Yale and two New England liberal arts colleges, Amherst and Bowdoin. He doesn't indicate if he's leaning one way or the other.
• Across the pond, The Guardian has an interview with Chip Taylor, director of KU's Monarch Watch, on his concerns about the future of the monarch butterfly population.
• Some research from Promothesh Chatterjee, an assistant professor of marketing in the KU School of Business, got some attention from the NYT as well as AOL's DailyFinance site. He collaborated with some researchers from the University of Utah on a study that found that a person with a single savings account is likely to save more and spend less than a person with multiple accounts. Chatterjee suggests consolidating your multiple savings accounts if you have them, or at least using a service that will provide an aggregated view of your different accounts.
If you've been SAVING up some KU news tips, now's the time to send them to email@example.com! Ho ho. (As I said, it's been a long week.)
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KU's Quidditch team, which was ranked No. 1 in North America by the International Quidditch Association back in November, wound up making it to the Elite Eight of this year's collegiate Quidditch World Cup, held in Kissimmee, Fla. The KU Quidditchers, the tournament's No. 8 seed, were knocked out by UCLA, which ultimately lost to Texas in the final match. The two-day tournament was this past weekend.
Student Colby Soden, the KU club's vice president, reported that the team went 4-0 on the tourney's first day, qualifying for the 36-team championship bracket. KU competed in a 60-team field in the World Cup's Division 1. KU defeated Marquette in the round of 32 and Michigan State in the round of 16.
The winner of the Division 2 tournament, Sam Houston State, is also from Texas. I hear Quidditch is the biggest sport around down there.
Maybe KU will get another shot at next year's World Cup. Until then, you can compete in the World Cup of Heard on the Hill Tip Submissions, in which the person who submits the most KU news tips gets to be my favorite. Enter by sending a tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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President Obama is not coming to KU this week, we now know. That means the span of time since the university was last visited by a sitting U.S. president will continue to expand. And, based on research I've been rounding up this week, that stretch may be more than a century long.
Earlier this week, when we thought Obama would be on his way, I asked for the help of some helpful folks at KU to try to determine when was the last time a sitting U.S. president came to campus. And even though the visit's not happening now, I thought their work would be worth sharing.
Two people at KU were kind enough to share some digging they'd done into this topic: Mike Reid, director of public affairs for the KU Memorial Unions and the person who runs the KUHistory.com project; and Becky Schulte, the university archivist. And based on their work, it looks like the last time a sitting U.S. president was on campus was Sept. 24, 1911, when William Howard Taft stopped by.
(As you may have noted in this story, as of earlier this week, the most recent mention of such a visit that Reid had found was from 1879, when Rutherford B. Hayes apparently visited a relatively new building called University Hall. That building was later named Fraser Hall, and was razed in 1965 to make way for the "new" Fraser Hall that stands in about the same spot today.)
Anyway, Reid credits Watkins Community Museum Curator Brittany Keegan with digging up evidence of Taft's 1911 visit this week. He also shared the image below from the Sept. 25, 1911, Lawrence Daily Journal reporting on his stop in Lawrence. It was, the headline reported, "ONE GRAND SUCCESS." Taft stopped in Lawrence for an hour during a long train journey across the country and addressed a crowd of students and others at KU.
Reid also found evidence of one other presidential visit at KU. In the KU history book "Across the Years on Mount Oread," he found mention of a stop by Ulysses S. Grant in April 1873. He also appeared at Old Fraser Hall, which at that time was known as just "the New Building."
Schulte also passed along a clipping that said Woodrow Wilson visited campus on a campaign trip in 1912, just before he became president. A few other future presidents also visited, including John F. Kennedy in 1957. And several former presidents — Ford, Carter, Clinton and George H.W. Bush among them — have appeared.
Reid summed up his findings on presidential visits at KUHistory.com here.
He also passed on one piece of inconclusive evidence to me. It's from the 1955 edition of the Jayhawker Yearbook, and it shows a KU band director placing a marching band hat on the head of President Dwight Eisenhower. The caption doesn't say where this happened, so it may or may not mean Eisenhower actually came to campus. But I still had to share the photo with you because, well, just look at it.
So there's your history lesson for today. We'll see how long KU's president-less streak stretches on.
Every time I get a KU news tip from one of you, my smile is as wide as Eisenhower's is in that photo. So go ahead and send one to email@example.com.
KU provost's office spokesman Gavin Young has chimed in with an answer to the Eisenhower mystery, which he found through a bit of Googling. The photo is from the 1954 dedication of the Eisenhower Memorial Museum in Abilene, according to this clip from a fine local newspaper.
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Well, I'm trying to think of something of interest that might be going on at KU this week, but I'm coming up empty. Hmmmm.
Oh, right. There is a visit by the president of the United States, possibly the first stop at KU by a sitting president since Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879 (more on that later today, hopefully, on the blog). But, for the moment, we don't know much about that except that it will happen Friday.
And in the meantime, other things are still happening around KU — a lot of things this week, actually. Here's your weekly events roundup:
• KU geography professor Jerry Dobson will be at the Dole Institute of Politics at 3 p.m. today to talk about and sign copies of "The Waters of Chaos," a novel he wrote with his brother that puts forth an alternative theory for the history of human civilization.
• Also today is an event celebrating the work of Ronald Johnson, a poet born in Ashland in 1935. That begins at 5:30 p.m. today in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. It's sponsored by the KU Libraries system, which requests that you RSVP if you want to attend. More info on that is here.
• Later today, at 7 p.m. in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union, is a screening of the documentary "Corporate.FM," featuring a talk with its director, KU alumnus Kevin McKinney, afterward. This is sponsored by the Student Union Activities group and student radio station KJHK, which along with Lawrence's KLZR is actually featured in the movie. The screening is free.
• Speaking of documentaries: from Wednesday through Saturday, the Africa World Documentary Film Festival will be going on at Wescoe Hall. It features 16 different documentaries about the lives of people in Africa, and you can read more about it here.
• The annual Reasonfest event from KU's Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics is set for Saturday and Sunday at the Kansas Union. More on that here.
• Also on the weekend: the KU Global Scholars Symposium, where 12 undergraduates selected as Global Scholars by KU will present research they've been working on. It's 8:30 am to 5 p.m. in Alderson Auditorium at the Union, and it's open to the public. This is the first group of students selected to be Global Scholars, back in 2010 when they were sophomores, and now they're seniors about to graduate. You can take a look at their research topics here — they range from "Herbal Remedies in 20th Century Slavic Folklore" to "Developmental Disabilities in Kansas and Peru."
Phew. If I missed anything, as usual, feel free to add in some more in the comments below. And get those KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes we reporter types want to try to dig up more information than we can get by just dialing a phone number or clicking a mouse three, or even four, times.
One of those times happened last month. I heard from a KU graduate student who'd had to move out of his home in the on-campus Stouffer Place apartment complex, along with his wife and two daughters, because of safety concerns about the building. He'd been told the building had developed some structural problems because of the recent drought, and he wanted some assurance that the new Stouffer Place building into which his family had moved didn't have the same issues.
He wanted to take a look at an engineering study on his building's problems, and make sure such problems hadn't been found elsewhere in the 25 buildings that make up Stouffer Place, a housing complex for couples, students with families and others.
So we asked about it. I sent KU a Kansas Open Records Act request for documents related to any engineering studies done on Stouffer Place buildings since the beginning of 2012.
Last week, I got my hands on the documents in question. And they show that an engineering study did indeed find some worrisome problems about this student's building, Building No. 20, and no studies had found any structural problems with any other buildings.
The report said the building had settled because of the dried-out soil underneath, caused by the drought and a nearby tree that sucked up what little moisture was there. There were cracks in walls and gaps between the floor and the walls. The biggest structural concern, the report says, was a gap between the second floor and the north wall, which had moved about half an inch away from the rest of the building. It recommended several thousand dollars' worth of repairs.
You can download the report here, in case you're curious. (It has some pictures.)
This graduate student and other residents in the building were told they'd have to move while KU conducted repairs, according to some materials he shared.
Jim Modig, KU's director of Design and Construction Management, said a few buildings here and there had developed such problems because of the drought, but the problem wasn't "huge." If you've noticed any other campus buildings that have seemed to settle or shift a bit over the last year or two, though, let me know at email@example.com.
And send in those KU news tips, too. I'd love to see them, no many how many mouse-clicks are required.
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When I saw Steve Warren, KU's vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, at a groundbreaking event on Friday, I asked him about something that I figured is probably frequently in the back of his mind nowadays: how the federal budget sequester is affecting KU's millions in federal research funding.
He said there's been one unfortunate piece of news: A government office called the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education, has indicated that it will simply stop awarding new research grants for the time being because of the federal budget cut.
KU already has a number of active grants thru the IES, and those will continue to be funded as scheduled. But grants expire eventually, and Warren said it looks like no new funding will be available for now.
Altogether, Warren said his best rough guess is that KU's federal research funding might decrease by about 5 percent for the 2013-14 year. KU gets more than $200 million per year, so that's a decrease of more than $10 million. And that would break a five-year streak of increasing federal research funding, Warren said.
This could be a real blow to a lot of folks, from young faculty who crave grants and research opportunities so they can achieve tenure to graduate students who sometimes rely on outside funding sources to fund their education. And the competition will likely get stiffer for whatever grants remain available from the federal government, Warren said.
Altogether, he said, it could be an "unpleasant" year, though he said KU would do whatever it could to shield faculty and students from the effects.
Anyone out there at KU who's seeing the sequester affect his or her work up close? If so, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And send in those KU news tips, too.
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Here's a piece of KU-related news that we'll present on its own, because it's quite sad.
A Northeastern State University professor found dead in Tahlequah, Okla., at the end of May was just four years removed from earning her doctorate from KU.
Tiffany Maher, 38, was an assistant professor of chemistry at NSU, and authorities say she was the victim of a homicide. She and four cats were found dead in her home after a fire that police say was arson. No arrests had been made in the case as of Friday.
Maher studied at KU for five years before earning her Ph.D. in chemistry in 2009, and the Tulsa World extensively quoted her dissertation supervisor, associate professor Mikhail Barybin, in a story on the aftermath:
"She was an extremely gifted teacher," he said. "I'd say she was probably a rare example of a graduate student who had equally impressive contributions in research, teaching and service to the community here in Lawrence.
"She was very well-liked by the departmental faculty, her peers, graduate and undergraduate students - and she taught many of them. She has been a great mentor to the undergraduate students."
The KU chemistry department will have a memorial service for Maher this weekend in Wescoe Hall, according to this note on its website.
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Clemson University in South Carolina has hired away a professor in KU's molecular biosciences department, according to this Clemson news release.
Robert Cohen, a professor of molecular biosciences at KU right now, will go to Clemson to become chairman of its biological sciences department. At Clemson, that's in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.
Cohen earned tenure at KU in 1996 and was promoted to full professor in 2005. Before that, according to the Clemson release, he was on the faculty at Columbia University in New York. He'll start at Clemson on July 1.
A few facts about Clemson, since I went through the trouble of looking it up: It is not a member of the Association of American Universities as KU is, its endowment was less than half the size of KU's as of 2012 at about $483 million and it ranked No. 68 in the most recent U.S. News and World Report "Best Colleges" rankings to KU's No. 106.
No word on the local campus blogging situation at Clemson, though if there are any blogs I'm sure their readers are not nearly as helpful as mine. You're so helpful you didn't even need me to butter you up like I just did there for you to send a KU news tip or two to email@example.com.