Letters to Campus
January 29, 2010
Happy New Year from Anderson Hall. I hope each of you had a relaxing holiday break, and that your semester is off to a great start.
I would like to take this opportunity to formally welcome April Mason to campus as our new provost and senior vice president, and Jeff Morris back to K-State as our new vice president for communications and marketing. I am excited to have both April and Jeff on our senior leadership team, and I am confident that they will both be positive difference makers on our campus.
As we bring new people into various administrative positions on campus, it is important to ask each and every time: "Do we really need this administrative position?" Kansas State has prided itself for many years on being very administratively lean; indeed, this was frequently cited as an institutional point of pride when talking with the Legislature and other constituent groups.
Currently, we have the same number of vice presidents as we did several years ago (we eliminated the vice president for institutional advancement and added the vice president for communications and marketing). I have no plans to add another person at the vice presidential level in the foreseeable future. However, it is my belief that outstanding leadership pays for itself in the long run, and as such, we will continue to seek candidates nationally for K-State leadership positions when they come open. It is my expectation that as we continue to attract outstanding talent to K-State, that our leaders at the departmental, college and university level will be working hard to secure additional resources which will allow all of us to better perform our primary missions of teaching, scholarship and engagement. Thus, as you hear rumors on campus concerning administrative hiring, please drop me an e-mail note. While I am sure that every decision coming out of Anderson Hall will not be greeted with enthusiasm, I will ensure that as we make changes to our administrative structure and administrative team that I will keep the campus informed.
Over the last year, we have been working on several sustainability initiatives at Kansas State University. While there are many different things we can do to promote sustainability, I asked Dr. Ben Champion, our campus-wide sustainability director, what we could ask campus to do immediately to help. He identified three major items that each person on campus can do within our own offices.
First, purchase a power strip and use it for your computers and other office equipment. If you leave your computer and monitor on 24/7, it will cost the university about $85 for the computer and $105 for the monitor over the course of a year. Second, minimize lighting use when possible. As an example, each two-lamp fluorescent fixture on campus uses about 60 watts when turned on. If these lights are never turned off, each one costs the university about $42 a year. Third, minimize the use of space heaters in your building. Space heaters use 1500 watts in high mode, 750 in low mode, with an average well above 1000 watts. This much electricity adds up to $35 for each space heater on average during each winter of use on campus. Would you like to know more? Check out the K-State Sustainability Web page at: http://sustainability.k-state.edu/
As I look ahead to 2010, I have five major goals as president -- these areas will be the focus of most of my time and effort during the next year.
First, what mountain would we like to climb as a university in the next 15 years? Over this next year, we will be engaged in a campus-wide year long strategic planning process which will culminate in a visionary plan called "K-State 2025." I am currently working with the president's cabinet to lay out a timeline for the development of K-State 2025, including the development of an overall university goal for the future. This topic will be explored more fully in my February letter to campus.
Second, we need to continue to make progress on our aging campus infrastructure. I believe we will need to adopt an aggressive plan of renovation of existing space on campus. While there are many possible first projects, I have chosen the renovation of the East side of Memorial Stadium into a campus welcome center. The proposed center will be a "one stop shop" for any prospective students or visitors as they come onto campus. This will be solely funded with private sources with a current estimated cost of $15M. Why start with this project instead of choosing a major academic building for renovation? The advantage of the welcome center project is that it has campus-wide impact (so donors are not supporting a single college), and it will demonstrate that we can do first-class renovations which preserve the architectural style on our campus while providing modern spaces for our faculty, staff and students. Once this is complete, it will serve as a showpiece for other renovation projects in the future -- including many of our classroom and laboratory buildings.
Third, we need to continue to aggressively build our endowment. There are three primary areas which I will focus on for my fundraising work for the upcoming year: additional faculty of distinction ($500K endowment and above), renovation of existing campus structures and additional presidential scholarships ($500K endowment per scholarship). As our economy improves, it will be important to be working with our major university supporters on a consistent set of university priorities which will help improve the opportunities for our faculty, staff and students.
Fourth, we need to continue to attract exceptional leaders to K-State. We have successfully hired several new individuals into executive level positions, and as we look into the first half of 2010, we will need to continue to attract exceptional leaders. Presently, we are looking for a new vice president for administration and finance, as well as a new vice provost and chief information officer. It will be critical to find the best possible individuals for these positions as we shape the vision for K-State of the future.
Fifth, we need to continue to build a multi-campus system. With the help of the voters of Johnson County, we will be expanding from two campuses (Manhattan and Salina) to three campuses (Manhattan, Olathe and Salina). It will be important for us to continue to choose appropriate degree offerings for all three campuses to ensure that we put in place successful programs consistent with the distinctly different missions for each campus. As part of these discussions, we need to determine ways to share content across all three campuses to use our strained resources as wisely as possible.
So, you've seen my plans for 2010, and I would love to hear yours. I appreciate the opportunity to serve as your president, and am looking forward to a productive year. As always, I welcome your suggestions and comments.