Letters to Campus
Dear Faculty and Staff--
Greetings from the warm and sunny south! I hope that this note finds you well. I wanted to bring you up to date on several key transition issues that will affect the university community.
Occasionally in our family, I will make some statement like, "I am sure that no one in Manhattan will recognize us when we are out eating as a family" - which Noel will call into question. So, on our recent visit to K-State this last weekend, I bet Noel $20 that we wouldn’t be recognized out in the community yet. I made it all the way to Sunday at lunch - we ate in Aggieville at the Hibachi Hut - and as we were finishing the owner came and asked if I was the new president - so I lost my $20! I was proud of how many people tried to get my older son to change his mind and attend K-State instead of Mississippi State - and Pat Bosco did give it his best shot at the men's basketball game between K-State and the University of Colorado.
Over the last month, I have had the chance to sit down and visit with most of the vice presidents and senior administrative team, the faculty senate officers, and the classified senate officers. In the upcoming months, I will be meeting with the deans and spending time visiting each of our different colleges, and look forward to the chance to visit with as many of you as possible.
Some serious news and notes —
I appreciate all of the email notes I received after sending my initial "Dear Colleague" letter. As you might suspect — I did receive many notes inviting me to various university events, making suggestions on areas for growth during my tenure as president, and making me aware of the outstanding achievements of our faculty, staff, and students. I am interested in striving for excellence across the board as we continue to grow our university — regardless of academic field. In particular, I received several email notes expressing concern about my future support of the arts and humanities at K-State. I want us to have outstanding academic programs in all nine of our academic colleges and in all of our departments, and am not willing to concede that we are going to settle for a second rate academic program in any area on campus.
With all of that being said, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) will certainly consume a great deal of my time over the next couple of years as president. I will be working alongside Ron Trewyn and all of the faculty and staff members involved in research related to NBAF. The Department of Homeland Security's decision to build NBAF adjacent to the K-State campus will help elevate our university nationally and internationally. The opportunities are enormous for collaboration between K-State researchers and scientists working at NBAF. While it is clear that having this federal facility adjacent to our campus will certainly help strengthen already robust programs in our Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture, Engineering, Human Ecology, and Veterinary Medicine — the challenge we face as a university community is how to parlay this increased international recognition into ways that will elevate the entire university. If you have any comments or suggestions on this topic, please do send me your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
President Wefald sent a note to you earlier this week outlining some of the budgetary issues that we are facing during the next two years. K-State is a financially lean institution, and it will be important to continue to find creative ways to stretch our financial resources. Compared with other universities of our size (23,000 students), we have a fairly lean administrative structure. However, if the central administration is going to ask you all to "do more with less," it is important that we do the same. Thus, I have decided that we will be eliminating the Vice President for Institutional Advancement position. This position was held most recently by Bob Krause prior to his term as Athletic Director, and has been vacant for almost a full year. In discussing this position with the vice presidents, we concurred that the duties that go with the VPIA will be assigned to other members of our current administrative team.
The search for our next Athletic Director is now under way, and is being led by Amy Button Renz. The advertisement will be posted early next week, and we anticipate that the search committee will provide me with several finalists by mid-May. I will then interview several of these finalists in person, and make a selection by no later than mid-June. It will be critical to have our AD in place by the start of the football season to meet with our athletic fans when they are on campus for fall sporting events. We have set up an email address that can be used to send nominations or any other suggestions about the AD search — so please send any comments to K-StateADSearch@k-state.edu. I have already been very impressed with the caliber of individuals who have expressed interest, and I am confident that we will hire an Athletic Director who can continue to elevate our athletics programs in the Big 12 conference.
We will also be doing some minor renovation work to the presidential residence on campus. While the Wefalds have done a wonderful job of keeping up the home, there are some minor repairs that need to be done given the age and significant usage of the house for university entertainment and fundraising. The university will be replacing some carpet, refreshing some paint, and redoing the roof. We appreciate the efforts of Ed Rice, Ed Heptig, and the Division of Facilities personnel in assisting with these projects. There are other renovation and infrastructure issues that will need to be addressed eventually, but this is not the financial climate to be spending significant amounts of discretionary funds on the presidential residence. So, when you do see workers milling around the house — we are simply doing some minor work that needs to be done given the age and significant usage of the house for university entertainment and fundraising. If any of you have any questions about what work is being done on the house, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time. Noel and I look forward to having different groups from around the campus and community into the house this fall.
I appreciate all of the notes and suggestions you have sent to me over the last month — and hope that you will keep them coming!