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Conversations shape the path ahead

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

By the time you’re reading this, I hope I’ve met you. I made it a point in my first semester to visit every department in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, be present at as many College events as possible, and meet individually for coffee with staff and faculty. It has been my pleasure learning from you the particular strengths and opportunities for each discipline and how I can facilitate a culture of exchange between our units and the Dean’s Office.

Your feedback and insights are incredibly useful as the Dean's Office considers how to move the College forward. Looking ahead to next year, we plan to focus on recruitment; research funding; and diversity, equity and inclusion. These are already beginning to take shape in various ways.

Diversity, equity and inclusion was a critically important topic as I arrived at KU and the College has already made significant progress. We have implemented two recommendations that came out of a College workgroup on diversity, equity and inclusion formed over winter break: a mentorship program for academically struggling students and an associate dean to spearhead and guide our efforts. Earlier this semester, well over 100 of you signed up as mentors for students who risked dismissal because of their academic status. We are currently assessing results, which will be used to guide the next iteration of the program. The search for the associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion is wrapping up and we will announce that hire soon with a start date of July 1.

Recruitment efforts are solidifying, as well. Robust enrollment of a talented and diverse mix of students is vital to enhancing our educational mission and helping us address our current budget challenges. Toward this end, the College will hire and deploy its first-ever recruitment coordinator this summer. Our recruiter will work with the Office of Admissions and our departments to attract students to KU. This will include communicating the value of a liberal arts and sciences education and ensuring potential applicants are familiar with the range of disciplines and career paths. Our recruiter will be particularly important as an ambassador who will share our story throughout the state and in Kansas City. Taking this one step further, I will be traveling the state this summer with the help of the KU Alumni Association and many of our undergraduates from all across Kansas.

Finally, I am eager to find creative ways to support faculty and student research. I am continuing conversations with faculty, administrators, KU Endowment Association and others on how to develop funds and programs that allow new ideas to flourish and provide more hands-on research and internship experiences for students.

This semester has been a tremendous introduction to all things KU, yet I know I still have so much more to learn. I will continue to reach out to you, to help me shape plans and to share what we have accomplished and where we’re going next. Thank you for all you have done to welcome me and help me learn what I can do to support excellence in the College. I wish all of you a productive summer and can’t wait for next year!