Phase 3: Comments on Proposed Themes & Common Elements

This report compiles the online comments received during December 2010 about the proposed major themes and common elements. These proposed themes and common elements emerged from focus group discussions and online comments during Phase 2. View the final Major Themes & Common Elements.

Feedback on Proposed Major Themes

Yes, I concur with the proposed themes:

I attended a university for a study abroad in England. Every rubbish bin on campus was supplemented with a recycling container. Often this contained a mixed recycling bin that would later be sorted. Why can't we do this? I know that some people will complain that it makes more work for trash collection staff or for the students, but if everyone works together to drastically cut down on waste, it wouldn't be that hard. Compostable food waste bins should be provided where a lot of food is consumed too. (Union, Library, Coffee Shops on Campus, Studios) 

I'm really not that impressed with how K-State tries to cut down on waste. We could do much better.
As a student, I am always wary of a theme centered on diversity. While I understand the importance in a global economy of bringing in faculty from around the world, I appreciated having teachers I could understand for most of college and value my education much more because of it. Diversity is more than just color and race and giving students a faculty base that speaks clear English is very important to me. Many teachers in various programs have trouble communicating with students and our education suffers because of the lack of understanding.
Overall I agree with everything, I think the academic side of the institution needs to find a way to piggyback off of the athletic success of our sports teams. I also think our marketing efforts need to be adjusted so that all faculty, students, graduate students and all staff understand our brand and know how to communicate it. Perhaps a required K-State training for all faculty, staff and graduate students and then a required freshman course that teaches our brand to undergraduate students. This comment stems from faculty and staff having a perception of K-State that I believe is not consistent with what we are trying to promote, we need to bring everyone on the same page. Finally, I think in trying to bring diversity into our school we need to balance that with having high admissions standards to eliminate people that are not ready for college.
We need to diversify our campus more! But otherwise looks pretty good.
I like the themes overall, but you need to make sure to address both the tuition parts of student life (both graduate and undergraduate), the strain it places on student's families incomes, and also how available avenues for relieving that strain are effective.
I wish to participate, especially on the Facilities & Infrastructure or Undergraduate Educational Experience committees.
Research is a common theme in the initial comments. I understand budgetary limitations, but it seems to me the student body is a tremendous resource that is under-utilized. What would be the reaction to making contribution to research a graduation requirement? A radical step such as this could set K-State apart from its competitors. Beyond that, maintain transparency and clearly communicate your goals, and many alumni like myself will gladly contribute funding to help make this happen.
I think that these themes are good, if there was one that I would add it would be leadership. I think that leadership is something that is very important to k-state, shown specifically by the School of Leadership Studies. Being the only public university with a stand alone SLS is something that we should be proud of and it is obviously important to the campus because the leadership minor is the biggest academic program on campus. And it is one of the few studies that has a building dedicated solely to itself.
The university needs a centralized facility for microscopy, which in turn needs a new position of microscopy director (similar to KU). Without that it is difficult to convince NSF for funds for enhanced microscope and to conduct quality research.
If you want to improve academic experience start with faculty and staff. From my standpoint we have tenured some lousy professors and the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism seems to keep hiring crappy ones at that. Fix this please.
In general I agree, however, I'd like to see an emphasis on innovation, math, science and communications be explicitly highlighted. If we are going to succeed and make it sustainable I believe we need to become much more competitive around these areas in addition to those you've mentioned.
1) K-State and the city of Manhattan both need to be seen as centers of growth and youthfulness, and new opportunity. Consider the immediate impressions that many people may think of when they hear of Ann Arbor, Austin, or Charlotte. The city and the university need to be seen as welcoming the arts and the independent spirit. How do we do this? Manhattan also needs to realize that growth does not always mean progress. Strip malls and gigantic parking lots throughout the city, with generic store fronts, do absolutely nothing to promote the charm in the city, and in fact, destroys what so many people love about our beloved college town. These are not the ways of the future. How can a world-class university, with first-class engineering, design, landscaping departments, work more closely with the city of Manhattan (and Salina) to ensure aesthetic, unique, and sustainable development that does not compromise the more historic areas of town? 

2) The entire scope of the university website needs to be more professional and "collegiate" looking. Look no further than our in-state Big 12 neighbor for an improvement. 

3) K-State is a 3 campus system and it should be promoted as such. 

4) K-State's global education and international opportunities need to be aggressively expanded, enhanced, and promoted. It is time to stop paying lip-service to this and work together to make it happen soon. It is the future. 

5) What will it take to forever put to death the image of K-State being a "cow college"? 

6) Never again can we allow ourselves to be pushed to the brink of conference chopping block. It REALLY is do or die. We must work together as an institution to continally be moving forward at all times. 

7) K-State and the people associated with K-State should never be happy with mediocrity.
But how does completed research get disseminated? In the 20+ years since I graduated I have not seen how research gets implemented in the real world - aviation industry in particular. If more people were working with the "K-State method" it would enhance the prestige of the university.

No, I have some suggestions:

Remain "Neutral" in the LGBT controversy that an over-whelming majority of Americans have voiced their concern over.
Your "external image" is no longer "positively aligned" because you chose to support the LGBT instead of being "Neutral". How astonishing is it that our educators cannot grasp the fact that when you chose to ignore the majority, who support you and provide necessary funding, that you will lose big! How ignorant not to look at November's elections and not see where Americans want our great Nation. Your external image is now tarnished...and this is only the beginning.
It's obvious that the plan is to turn K-State into a top 50 engineering and science university. Other departments are not represented in any way. Either implement a plan that includes all of the departments across the university or just come out and admit that this is a plan to strengthen the engineering and science programs at K-State. Be honest about the transfer of resources away from most departments and into engineering and science. There's not a lot of incentive to work hard if my only role at K-State will be to lower my standards in the classroom so that we can increase the retention and graduation rates.
Remove Athletics
How does Athletics fit into the 2025 goal to be a top research institution? I do not think MIT is particularly worried about their Athletics program, yet they are definitely a top research institution. Seems like Athletics is being used as a PR vehicle, so how does an athletic reputation translate into stature as a research leader?
Being unfamiliar with K-State's relationship with the board of regents, I can't say I know who is ultimately in charge of determining admission requirements. However, I do know this: if K-State wants to be acknowledged as a top-50 university, admission requirements MUST be raised. The omission of this discussion is baffling to me. Furthermore-and I know this is a touchy subject-I would advise the administration to take steps to distance this institution from Fort Riley. It may be taboo to mention this, but the culture clash between the university and Fort Riley is driving students away. Every time a soldier beats up someone in Aggieville, K-State loses a student from Kansas City to KU. Call this elitist if you want, but K-State has a serious problem that needs to be more honestly addressed.
The To Do list in Phase Two is just outrageous. Not to my surprise, the number one list item is increasing professor salaries. Surprisingly, that suggestion came from a faculty member. These things being said while college graduates cant even find a job. Fortunately, I happen to be one of the lucky ones that has found a job. Its classical that professors are concerned about increasing their own salaries, while people in the real world are just happy to have a job. Why don't we focus on the point of a college going forward. Provide a student with a good education, and expose them to good employers so they can start a career. Have you been to a Kansas State career fair? In the future people who graduate from K-state have to be able to find employment, or the amount of publications and research conducted by professors is irrelevant.
International should be a central theme rather than just one of the "common elements." I cannot think of a single top university, especially a top land-grant institution, that does not have a strong international commitment. 

Conversely, "Facilities and Infrastructure," while crucially important, seems more appropriate as a common element than a theme.
I think that by encouraging diversity you are going to actually have a harder time getting the school to top 50 status. Also by doing this you are creating a lot of false research, tenured professors are publishing the work of their grad students without verifying first, by doing this there is no way to tell if it is true or not. As for athletics... why do they get their school payed for and a Highschool senior with a 4.0 and a 31 on their ACT doesn't? Instead of bragging about our facilities try to help the Arts and Science kids out by getting us into schools instead of making our classes ridiculously hard, you would then not have to ask for more money from the students as it would be donated by all the doctors that we would then churn out, also the engineering degrees here are ridiculously difficult because of lack of explanation, get different teachers, maybe then we would have a famous KSU graduate that would actually make something worth while and they would give money back to the university. I would just like to say that I will not be giving any money back to the school as they have done nothing for me except make my life a living hell and that all my money will be going to a fraternity on campus.
The themes that have emerged from this process so far seem to be equaaly applicable to most every other modern research extensive land grant university. There is little here to use in advancing K-State to a unique position of prominance in the next 15 years. I also think that the common elements suffer from this lack of vision and with the exception of the element of sustainability could have been written at any point in the last decade or two. Actually the most recent version of strategic planning that was conducted during the term of Provost Nellis is remarkably similary to this effort at this point. 

I suggest that at this point the 2025 plan be more focussed, and selective in identifying themes and common elements. Fewer of each would seem to lead to a more managible and achieveable end state. Further it seems that in many instances the themes are not mutually exclusive. They overlap in many ways...how does one separate out the role of scholarship, research and creative activities from faculty matters and the undergraduate educational and gradute student research experiences? I would also suggest that athletics are at best a nice to have function at K-State from which we all benefit in some way or the other. However, I would also argue that we could be a Top 50 university with or without any type of athletic program. I would omit this element from this list of and look to other ways to achieve athletic prominance by 2025.

The common elements seem to consist of a rather odd mix of ideas. For example, a unification of our brand has very little to do with achieving emminance as a Top 50 insititution. It merely is a way to inform others of what we do...good, bad or indifferent. The image alignment languae in the common element culture also seems to be out of place. 

My overall sense at this point is there is no news here. We are generally repeating the past here. These are safe, no risk tehems and common elements, predictable in all ways. I would argue that we should be far more aggressive about shaping our future. Identify selected areas in which K-State can be a leading institution. Sustainability/environmental responsibility certainly is one, as is internationalization and scholarship.
I like the themes you have chosen, but one areas that already makes k-state stand out is it's community. I believe community should have a theme of its own. This could include student groups and community service efforts, etc. I think this is one thing that people come to college for: the community.
Call me biased, but I really think the is a major element missing: Economic Development. 

To that end, Research should be its own theme coupled with Economic Development. Why? Look at the current top 50 Universities and you will see a common thread, a vigorous Corporate Relations/Eco Devo/Private Research (call it what you like) department that partners with Private Industry to discover, develop and bring to market innovation. Yes we have NISTAC. Yes we have this happening on a departmental level through out the University. However, when the Alumni or Foundation folks visit a company and they had no idea that a department head or Dean had just been there we as a University have a huge problem. 

I think we need a department, lead by a professional Economic Developer not a PhD, to bring all this activity under one roof and bring a unified front to the private sector that we mean business. Why no PhD? According to Forbes, the average GPA of Fortune 500 CEOs was 2.6. CEOs want to deal with doers, not thinkers. 

I love this University. I've made life decisions to be hear in Manhattan and close to the school. I would be very interested to be in any of the small groups or to help in anyway I can. My son will be a Freshman at KSU in 2024, so let's get moving! 

Thanks for your time!
I think the changes we will see over the next 15 years and their impact on higher education will be more than we have seen in the last 100 years. This is a "looking backward" view to predict the future. I believe you need a better "looking forward" view - especially the ability to deal with change, resiliency, and relevance. I strongly support the endeavor and realize how hard it is to do well.
The horrendous work environment at KSU has not been addressed. The infrastructure is not working. This starts with the academic administrators bullying, mismanagement of funds and people, including a dishonest Human Resources upper administration! KSU cannot move forward with this type of work environment! You seem to ignore the basic day to day problematic operations!
I see a lot of stuff here and when I search for dorms I don't find anything. Unless you are including that in "infrastructure". I seriously think that needs to be a top priority if you are wanting to increase students/faculty/etc. We already have a dorm room shortage.
Work on ways to increase faculty productivity.
I was appalled at the first item from the faculty to increase salaries and this theme was in many other faculty comments. It is so sad that this is the top priority for the faculty. There was no mention on how they could be more valuable to the University, only selfish suggestions for more pay.
If that is the main input from the faculty, the overall plan is fatally flawed.
While the proposed themes and common elements could make K-State a better university, according to the Center for Measuring University Performance (http://mup.asu.edu/index.html) a rating in the top 50 in any one of the following cateories would suffice. 

2007 Total Research
2007 Federal Research
2008 Endowment Assets
2008 Annual Giving
2008 National Academy Members
2008 Faculty Awards
2008 Doctorates Granted
2007 Post Docs
2007 SAT Range (V; Q)or ACT Range

Funding may be difficult to find so pushing for National Academy Members and Faculty Awards maybe more achievable.

Proposed Major Themes

Themes

Small groups will be convened focused on each thematic area to recommend goals and objectives to meet the Top 50 goal by 2025.

  • Scholarship, Research, Creative Activities
  • Undergraduate Educational Experience
  • Graduate Scholarly Experience
  • Faculty & Staff
  • Facilities & Infrastructure
  • Engagement & Extension
  • Athletics

Common elements

The following elements support the themes and should be integrated into each small group's planning. Other common elements deemed necessary by each group should be integrated as well.

Diversity

Build an inclusive campus climate that will foster mutual understanding among diverse groups.

International

Strengthen communication and coordination among K-State's international programs and constituents in order to achieve goals for the university's further internationalization.

Sustainability

Pursue environmental, social, and economic sustainability in every major area of the university.

Communication & Marketing

Unify the brand voice and continue K-State on the path to an improved national, and international, reputation.

Service & Outreach

Contribute to the operation of the university as well as apply knowledge and expertise to a non-academic audience in an effort to support the mission of K-State as a land grant institution.

External Constituents

Consider the needs of alumni, donors, and partners of K-State.

Culture

Examine the values and beliefs necessary to support Vision 2025 and promote the culture such that K-State's external image is positively aligned.