Despite most of the old overgrown lilac bushes being torn out and replaced last summer, Kansas University’s iconic Lilac Lane won’t go a spring without blooms.
New bushes planted in September are in bloom their first season in the ground, as university landscapers had hoped when I talked to them last fall. The new bushes are small — on top of being young, the more than six dozen planted along the sidewalk are a dwarf variety. But between those and a handful of large, old bushes remaining closer to Fraser Hall, there are enough flowers that the scent of lilacs wafts through the air along the sidewalk.
It’s fantastic, and definitely worth taking a walk in the next week or so while the bushes are still in bloom.
Considering the nearly 150-year history of Lilac Lane, it’s fun to think about how many generations of students, faculty and even chancellors — The Outlook, home to KU chancellors since 1939, lies at the end of Lilac Lane — have done the same thing this time of year.
A few more recent campus updates to know about:
• Vice chancellor not hired at GSU: KU vice chancellor for public affairs Tim Caboni was a finalist to become president of Georgia Southern University, but it looks like he won’t be headed there. The University System of Georgia announced Wednesday that Jaimie Hebert of Sam Houston State University would be Georgia Southern’s new president.
• Ecology and evolutionary biology professor dies: A KU professor known for his work in aquatic ecology, biofuels and the ecology of infectious diseases died last week. Val Smith, 65, a professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, died April 2 at his home in Lawrence, according to KU.
“I join the University of Kansas community in mourning the death of Professor Val Smith, whose teaching and research contributed significantly to his field and helped elevate the reputation of the university and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,” KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement from the university.
Visitation is planned for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th St., according to Smith's obituary.
— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at email@example.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.
Over the weekend, we updated you on how KU is dealing with, and worrying about, its state funding cuts this year. These two bits didn't quite fit in that story, but they might be interesting for folks on the hill:
• If you read the story, you saw that the KU administration told the different academic units on the Lawrence campus to cut their budgets by varying percentages.
Tim Caboni, KU's vice chancellor for public affairs, told me the higher-ups determined the percentages based on the different schools' research productivity and on whether their enrollment was growing or declining. (Research was the bigger part of the equation, accounting for two-thirds of the calculation.)
The better each school was doing in those areas, Caboni said, the smaller the cut it received (at least by percentage). He said the administration did it this way to preserve what it considers most important, and that leaders hope it will serve as a "motivator" for schools to improve in those areas.
Anyway, because of all that, it might be interesting to see the full list of percentage cuts by school. Here you go, starting with the highest:
-School of Journalism: 0.97 percent
-School of Music: 0.89 percent
-School of Business: 0.87 percent
-College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: 0.84 percent
-School of Social Welfare: 0.82 percent
-School of Architecture, Design and Planning: 0.72 percent
-School of Pharmacy: 0.69 percent
-School of Education: 0.6 percent
-School of Law: 0.45 percent
-School of Engineering: 0.4 percent
• One academic unit I left out of that list was the KU Libraries, because I'm giving it its own little section here. The libraries' cut was the same by percentage as the CLAS, 0.84 percent, and because of their sizable budget, they had one of the biggest cuts in terms of dollar amounts, at more than $100,000. (The College's cut, about $900,000, would dwarf all others on that list.)
I was curious how a cut like that might affect the libraries. The most noticeable effect for a lot of folks on campus could be a reduction in hours at KU's second most popular library, Watson Library.
Rebecca Smith, an executive director for the libraries, said leaders were considering closing Watson at midnight each weeknight instead of 3 a.m., allowing for a staff reduction. So if that's your go-to late-night study spot, you may have to find a new one. They haven't made a final decision on that, though.
The main way the libraries will deal with the cuts is to leave some vacant positions unfilled, Smith said. That means there will be fewer librarians available to do things like training students on research, helping faculty gather information and archiving KU research. (Smith noted that an academic library these days is far from just a "book depository.")
To me, anyway, the ways that this year's budget cuts will show up in the lives of people on campus are more interesting than percentages or dollar amounts, so let us know if you see a way that's happening. And get those KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.