Posts tagged with Kansas University
Some 45 years ago, it was an interesting idea from a KU ecologist. Now it's taken on a new importance, thanks to climate change.
A feature from the scientific journal Nature today tells the story of a hypothesis made in 1967 by Daniel Janzen, a young KU scientist, that's being re-examined anew.
Janzen, who's now a professor of biology at the University of Pennsylvania, theorized that organisms in tropical areas where the weather almost always stays the same have difficulty adapting to other areas that get terribly hot, cold, wet or dry in comparison.
He said the seed for the idea came when he was on a Costa Rican trip with an assistant who lived in the city of San José, where the weather stayed pretty moderate. When the group went to a hot area, the assistant was sweating buckets; when they went up in the mountains, the assistant piled on layers of blankets.
Amid today's concerns of global warming, his theory could imply that species in tropical areas could be in serious trouble if things change too much in their environment. Sparked by these implications, now some researchers are testing Janzen's theory by comparing insects from streams in Colorado with similar ones from Ecuador.
We had our own environmental change here at Heard on the Hill a few months back, though to my knowledge no species were harmed. But I'm going to remind you because someone asked me about it today: The best way for you to stay up-to-date on Heard on the Hill nowadays is to bookmark this page right here, and check it often. That's where you can see all of the posts on this blog, now that it's really a blog.
Of course, you can also follow the LJW_KU Twitter account to keep abreast of Heard on the Hill and all other KU-related news from the Journal-World. And I don't even have to tell you that you should also send your news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The KU chancellor's office today released a 2013 "State of the University" video, which you can watch on YouTube:
Narrated by Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, the six-minute video starts with a nice piece of symbolism: a shot of the flags atop Fraser Hall as Gray-Little says her first words, "Flagship university" — a phrase you'll hear KU leaders use often.
The chancellor then runs through a list of accomplishments, developments and ongoing efforts at KU: student and faculty honors, National Cancer Institute designation for the KU Cancer Center, faculty hiring efforts and a lot more.
And there's a lot of footage of faculty and students in classrooms, labs, libraries and elsewhere, so there's a good chance you'll spot a face you know.
An accompanying report from the chancellor is also posted on her office's website.
The state of Heard on the Hill is quite satisfied, because we just finished lunch. Keep us feeling that way by sending your KU news tips to email@example.com.
KU's endowment wasn't alone in having a less-than-great return on investment during the most recent fiscal year, judging from a survey released last week. Its investment returns were a bit worse than the average for North American colleges and universities, though.
The average return on investment for endowments during the 2012 fiscal year — roughly the 2011-12 academic year, running from July 2011 to June 2012 — was negative 0.3 percent, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports from an annual survey of North American institutions. It's a bit unusual for investments to remain that flat, the story says. Usually endowments experience a lot of peaks and valleys.
The KU Endowment's investments declined by about 3.4 percent during that time, the Endowment Association reported in October.
That decline, in addition to record spending of $119 million and some other factors, caused the total value of KUEA's endowed funds to fall from about $1.25 billion in June 2011 to around $1.18 billion in June 2012. That's a 5.4 percent decline.
Those funds placed KUEA 59th among North American endowments as of June 2012, right between the University of Nebraska ($1.21 billion) and Texas Christian University ($1.18 billion). (A sortable table of all endowments is here.)
Other notables on the list:
• The University of Missouri system's endowment gained 4.7 percent in value, bringing it up to $1.17 billion — No. 63.
• The Kansas State University Foundation's value declined by 2.4 percent, falling to $329 million. That ranked 200th. Other Regents university endowments: Wichita State, $199 million, No. 268; Emporia State, $67 million, No. 494; Pittsburg State, $57 million, No. 536; Fort Hays State, $50 million, No. 565.
• The University of Texas system's endowment dwarfs those of all other public universities: Its value rose 6.5 percent to $18.3 billion, third on the list.
• And this is just crazy: Harvard University's behemoth of an endowment fell in value by an amount greater than the entire KU Endowment: $1.29 billion. But that was just 4.1 percent of its 2011 value, and its $30.4 billion in funds was still $11 billion more than second-place Yale.
Finally, this year-by-year graph shows that KU's endowment has followed roughly the same value trends as Harvard, Yale and other big dogs over the past six years — just on a much smaller scale.
Of course, all these numbers are from more than six months ago. Back in October, KUEA president Dale Seuferling said the endowment's investments had bounced back since the end of June 2012.
Here at Heard on the Hill, the value of our endowed funds stayed steady at $0 billion during the 2012 fiscal year. I guess you could donate to change that, if you want, but we'd really rather you just send your KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's the Twitter hashtag we'll be using for newsy happenings at KU. I have to confess that was my choice out of our list of nominees, but if you snoop around Twitter you'll find that was the clear choice of other folks, too.
We're planning to dive in and slap that thing on our tweets with gusto, and I really hope you'll do the same. If we at the Journal-World are the only ones using it, it will feel like we're shouting into a big, empty room, hearing back nothing but an echo.
So if you see something happening on campus, find something cool and KU-related on the Internet or wonder what exactly is going on in front of Wescoe Hall, tack #KUbuzz onto your tweet. Let's see if we can make this "a thing," as the kids might say.
Something else that helps me feel like I'm not yelling into an empty room is when you send me your KU news tips. So keep 'em coming to email@example.com.
Here's something new we'll try out here at Heard on the Hill: A quick guide to KU-related events to start off your week.
Here you go:
• Here is something we wrote about a couple weeks back, but perhaps it's slipped to the back of your mind. A marrow donor registry drive is underway until 2 p.m. today in the Traditions area on the fourth floor of the Kansas Union. This was put together by Sharilyn Mathews — a KU student — in honor of her husband, Jonathan — also a KU student — who has battled both types of lymphoma. If you drop by and answer some questions to make sure you're eligible and get your cheek swabbed, you can put yourself on a registry where you could possibly help someone who has blood cancer.
• KU's Natural History Museum announced its spring-semester schedule last week, and a couple of notable things are coming your way in the next few days. Tomorrow will be the latest installment of the museum's Science on Tap series of discussions at Free State Brewing Co. downtown. This one concerns how genetic clues could lead to better cancer treatments, and it's 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Free State, 636 Massachusetts St. And later this week the museum's student advisory board will launch a movie series called "Myths and Mayhem," which will combine films with talks and Q-and-A sessions by KU scientists. The first film is "The Birds" from Alfred Hitchcock, and you can see it at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the museum, in Dyche Hall.
• Also on Thursday is a talk by a University of Oregon historian on a topic you might not have thought was a possible topic: The history of timelines. Daniel Rosenberg wrote a 2010 book called "Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline" that earned a lot of good reviews and explored how we came to represent stretches of time in linear form, a practice that did not take its modern form until less than 250 years ago. He has even produced a "Timeline of Timelines." His talk "Chronographics," sponsored by the KU Honors Program, will be 7:30 p.m. Thursday in The Commons at Spooner Hall.
If you've got any other events you think folks might like to know about, list them in the comments below. And, as always, send your KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fort Hays State student newspaper prints last issue; Daily Kansan editor says things going smoothly there
Fort Hays State University finds itself without a student newspaper today for the first time in more than a century.
The paper has run out of money, editor-in-chief Molly Walter says. Advertising has declined, the editor told the Hays Daily News, and the paper's funding from the Fort Hays student government was cut by $12,500 for this school year.
KU's student government threatened to cut its funding for the student paper, the University Daily Kansan, back in 2010. The Kansan cut its Friday print edition last semester, moving to four days per week.
Hannah Wise, the Kansan's current editor, told me when I checked in that things are going smoothly there right now, though. She said the Monday-through-Thursday model is working well, and there are no plans to cut down on publication days further.The Kansan staff is especially focusing on the paper's website and social-media efforts, though.
The Fort Hays release on the end of the University Leader says the university's president, Ed Hammond, declined a request to "bail out" the paper with funding that would keep it alive, and the university would work to plan a new multimedia news operation for students by the fall semester.
The University Leader's own story said "a few staff members" will keep publishing stories online.
I checked with the president of the Kansas Collegiate Media group for college publications, Mike Swan of Butler County Community College, and he said he wasn't aware of another Kansas college or university that had shut down its student paper in recent years.
He said the paper's demise would be a shame, as a student newspaper is a valuable watchdog for a university.
"Who else cares about Fort Hays State more than the student paper?" Swan said.
You don't have to worry about the print edition of Heard on the Hill closing down, because there isn't one. But that doesn't mean we aren't keeping an eye on things, with your help, as long as you keep your KU news tips coming to email@example.com.
Back in December we told you about how the National Institutes of Health had announced some new diversity-related measures because of a study led by KU economist Donna Ginther that showed black scientists were less likely than their white counterparts to receive grant funding from the NIH.
Now the journal Science, which published Ginther's original article, reports that a study by some other researchers questions some of its conclusions.
This new study shows the "evidence for racial bias is scant" at the NIH, its author told Science, and black and white researchers who've done about the same amount of work tend to receive about the same amount of funding.
This hardly throws Ginther's work out the window, though, as her study did not say the NIH was racially biased. It just said black researchers were receiving fewer grants. That's a different statement entirely.
Her original article wasn't able to pin down a reason for that. But when I talked to her in December, she told me some further work was beginning to suggest there's a lack of racial diversity all the way through the pipeline that produces medical researchers: in graduate-school programs, university faculties and academic journals.
She said it's possible the grant approval process is biased, perhaps because the people reviewing grants are more likely to award them to people they know. But of the new measures announced by the NIH, Ginther was focusing more on mentoring programs for college students and less experienced researchers, which could make the system more diverse from the ground up.
Because of that, Ginther told Science that this new study really just complements her research. She did quibble with some of the researchers' methods, though.
Don't forget to get those KU news tips in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University Daily Kansan has an interesting look today at how the rights granted to KU students by the university compare to those of students at other universities in the Midwest.
The newspaper compared KU's Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities to policies at Kansas State University, the University of Missouri, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. And according to a comparative chart (which didn't make it into the online version), KU appears to grant more rights to its students than any of the others.
Two notable rights KU students have that the others don't are freedom of expression in the classroom ("subject only to the responsibility of the instructor to maintain order") and a protection against receiving an academic punishment for committing a crime off campus.
Some other rights that KU grants that other universities don't: the right to challenge a grade, protection from censorship or unreasonable search and seizure in student housing, and the right to distribute written materials on campus without prior approval. (Edit: Things might be a bit more complicated. Check my comment below.)
That Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities dates to 1970, when the Student Senate wrote it up and the chancellor approved it. Only KU and Oklahoma have such a document devoted to the rights of students, among the universities the Kansan looked at.
You all, of course, have the right to ensure people know what's going on at KU by sending your KU news tips to email@example.com.
We asked you to help #FindTheKUHashtag, and now we've got some suggestions.
Now we need to pick which tag will work best as something to slap on our tweets about stuff going on on the KU campus, interesting KU people, KU-related questions or anything else we can think of.
But the whole idea here is that this tag will be used by YOU, dear person with a connection to KU, and not just by me. So I'm going to make you pick it.
Tweet your favorite at @LJW_KU, picking from the nominees below. Attach #FindTheKUHashtag to the end of your tweet (or don't; there are no official rules here). If you don't like the nominees, then suggest something else — if you can get people to vote for it, it will be eligible.
Get in your votes by the end of the week, and I'll announce a winner Monday. Here's your list of nominees:
Please do vote, or else I'm going to have to just pick one. And nobody likes a dictatorship.
And to further exercise your democratic rights, send me a KU news tip at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday's post about Leobardo Espinoza Jr., the Topeka high school senior blogging about his college choice for the New York Times who's reportedly been offered a full-ride scholarship to KU, prompted a good deal of discussion.
That's understandable, as I think it's an interesting story. (A note: Do, of course, feel free to form and post your own opinion about the story, but I would urge you to read Espinoza's full blog post first for some perspective.)
One commenter asked a good question: What exactly is the David M. Wall Scholarship, which Espinoza wrote that he was offered? It is not part of KU's regular slate of renewable scholarship offerings for incoming students.
I checked in about that with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and I think the answer gives us a bit more understanding about the story.
Kristi Henderson, communications director for the college, filled me in: The David M. Wall Scholarship, established in October 2008, goes only to graduates of Topeka High School who plan to seek a degree in liberal arts and sciences. The recipients are chosen based on achievement and need. All that is according to the wishes of the donor who created the scholarship.
(The recipients are picked by a committee appointed by the dean of liberal arts and sciences, KU spokesman Jack Martin added in a comment on yesterday's post.)
The four-year renewable scholarship always covers tuition, fees and books, and it's awarded as often as the balance of the fund allows. That's typically every two years or so, Henderson said — two students have received it so far, starting in 2009-10.
So, now you know a bit more of the story. Please, discuss.
And please, send your KU news tips to email@example.com.