Letters to Campus
Dear K-State Faculty and Staff,
Greetings from Anderson Hall! The semester is coming rapidly to a close, and I want to wish all of you the best of success as you finish your grading and other "end-of-the-year" activities.
This past week, I ran into Willie the Wildcat at the All-University Open House, and he had a few questions for me about different things happening around campus.
So, here is a somewhat edited transcript of our conversation...
Willie — Jeff Morris, the new vice president for communications and marketing, started in February. What has he been up to since he started at K-State?
Prez — There's been a lot going on in the past 90 days. Jeff has been working to incorporate all of the different marketing and communications functions (media relations, publications, printing services and ECC) into the Division of Communications and Marketing. As part of this initiative, media relations, photo services, and publications have relocated to Dole Hall. Photo services now offers free photo shoots to help improve service to campus units.
I also asked Jeff to assume a leadership role in coordinating a statewide communications campaign with the other Regents institutions and have been working closely with the Faculty Senate to address local media issues. Looking forward, I have charged the division with creating a unified branding approach for our three-campus system and developing a more consistent web presence.
Willie — Last month, you talked about the BRI and discussed our progress towards doing select agent work on our campus. Has there been any positive progress since last month?
Prez — Yes! This past month, we received approval from the Centers for Disease Control to begin select agent work in the P wing of the BRI. This is a significant step forward, and I appreciate the time and effort put forward by the BRI staff to achieve this key milestone.
Willie — I heard that the research task force has been meeting regularly, and that they have had a strong interest in how our returned overhead dollars are spent on campus. Is this information needed so the central administration can grab more of our SRO money?
Prez — I have asked the research task force to take a look comprehensively at our entire research enterprise — from top to bottom. As part of this, we need to understand how our SRO funds are used on campus. I am certainly aware that these monies are critical to many departments and colleges, and with decreasing state funds, these dollars are more vital than ever. So, the bottom line is that we are not gathering information so my office can make a big money grab.
Willie — I heard that there was a big event this past Saturday in Anderson Hall prior to the Spring Football Game. What happened?
Prez — We unveiled the first university-wide donor recognition display in Anderson Hall which recognizes families and individuals who have given $1 million, $5 million, and $10 million to Kansas State University. The display looks great, and I invite everyone to walk through Anderson Hall to see the names of the folks who have helped provide over $350 million in funds to enhance our educational experience at K-State. In the future, we plan to put up similar displays to recognize corporations and foundations which have made similar financial commitments to Kansas State University.
Willie — You seem to be out of town a lot. Isn’t there a lot to do here?
Prez — I am on the road a lot connecting with our alumni spread across the U.S. As a new president, it is important that I am out and visible across the State of Kansas as well as in major cities with large numbers of alumni. I expect to continue to be "on the road" a significant amount during my second year as president.
Willie — You have talked a lot about K-State 2025 recently. I have seen that the next steps in the development of the plan ("Where are we now?") calls for focus groups to meet this summer. Why are focus groups meeting during the summer when faculty members are on 9-month contracts?
Prez — I expect that we will involve about 35 to 40 different focus groups from across campus as part of K-State 2025. These groups will only meet one time during the summer (for about 1.5 hours), and we will ask faculty members nominated for the focus groups if they will be available during the summer for a single meeting. The same materials that are used for the focus groups will also be available on the web in the middle of the summer, so that everyone has a chance to participate in this part of the K-State 2025 plan development.
Willie — There seems to be a lack of trust on campus between the campus as a whole and the senior administration. What is up with that?
Prez — Trust is something that is earned. My plan is to continue to be as transparent as possible in our operations, and to involve our faculty, staff, and students as much as possible in key campus decisions as we move ahead.
Willie — Any summer plans for you and the Schulz clan?
Prez — We will spend some time with our extended family in North Carolina, and will spend some additional time outdoors enjoying the Kansas scenery.
Once again, good luck as the semester rolls to an end. If you have any suggestions or questions about anything happening on campus, don't hesitate to let me know.