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Office of the President

Letters to Campus

July 2010

Dear K-State Faculty and Staff,

I hope this note finds you well as we have now made it half-way through 2010. This is always the time during the summer when I realize just how much I had planned to do during the summer which isn't going to get finished before the fall semester starts. In a little less than a month, our students will return in force - eager to learn and ready for the semester to start.

One of my objectives during the summer was to kick off the second phase of the K-State 2025 visionary planning process. This part of the strategic plan involves benchmarking Kansas State University against our peers. For the last several weeks, we have been engaging with focus groups to examine where K-State is currently compared with our peers, and to discuss possible next steps to move us toward our goal of becoming a Top 50 Public Research University by 2025.

We are getting helpful feedback from the focus groups and in future letters to campus I will be providing responses to issues raised.

One of the keys to any planning process is to involve as wide a set of constituents as possible. Thus, in addition to the focus groups, we want as many faculty and staff as possible to give us their opinions on how we can move our university towards the Top 50 goal. With this in mind, we have designed a web interface consisting of three key parts: A short introductory video, a short presentation (13 PowerPoint slides) which lists our standing in each of the eight metrics against our peer group, and dialog boxes. We seek answers to three broad questions which focus on our future:

1. At K-State, what do we need to do to become a Top 50 institution?

2. What are the assets in place in order to achieve Top 50 status?

3. What are the barriers to overcome to achieve Top 50 status?

As you view the PowerPoint slide show there are several likely questions which may arise:

Q: Why were these particular benchmarking institutions chosen, and more importantly, why isn't the University of Kansas listed?

A: Kansas State has a set of agreed-upon benchmarking institutions, and several of these were used for comparison purposes. Additionally, Clemson University (SC), and Auburn University (AL) were also used because of their strong similarity in the benchmarking statistics to Kansas State. While we do compete against the University of Kansas in athletics and for students, they are a much different institution, with a different institutional outlook and peer set. Thus, we chose not to include them in our benchmarking comparisons.

Q: There is a "rank" column on many of the slides — what does this number mean?

A: The rank shown on the slides is national rank for public universities, with private research institutions excluded. Presently, there are more than 100 public research universities.

Q: External faculty awards is a pretty nebulous sounding metric - who determines what constitutes an external faculty award and what doesn't?

A: The Center for Measuring University Performance at Arizona State has set a list of significant nationally recognized faculty awards which are used for this statistic. These awards include:

American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellows, 2003-04
Beckman Young Investigators, 2004
Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Awards, 2004
Cottrell Scholars, 2004
Fulbright American Scholars, 2004-05
Getty Scholars in Residence, 2004-05
Guggenheim Fellows, 2004
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, 2004
Lasker Medical Research Awards, 2004
MacArthur Foundation Fellows, 2004
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Awards, 2004
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellows, 2005
National Humanities Center Fellows, 2004-05
National Institutes of Health (NIH) MERIT (R37) FY 2004
National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology, 2003
NSF CAREER awards (excluding those who are also PECASE winners), 2004
Newberry Library Long-term Fellows, 2004-05
Pew Scholars in Biomedicine, 2004
Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers
(PECASE), 2004
Robert Wood Johnson Policy Fellows, 2004-05
Searle Scholars, 2004
Sloan Research Fellows, 2004
US Secretary of Agriculture Honor Awards, 2004
Woodrow Wilson Fellows, 2004-05

The years used for comparison were chosen because complete data were available for each factor. The numbers will be updated as data becomes available.

Q: There is a slide near the end which shows total number of times an institution was ranked in the Top 50 categories — is this for all of the categories listed in the presentation?

A: The Center for Measuring University Performance at Arizona State provides information on research universities in a uniform format which is consistent for all the universities. This center does not provide some overall "rank" for universities (as opposed to U.S. News and World Report), but instead reports data on nine measures and the number of measures a university has that places it in a Top 25 or Top 50 category. These data were included in the presentation to give an overall view of where K-State currently ranks in nationally recognized metrics for university comparison.

At this point, I hope that you will go to the K-State 2025 website and participate in this very important next step. Just click K-State 2025, watch the video and slide show, and share your thoughts with us.

Onwards to the Top 50!