Letters to campus

May 2012

Dear Campus Community,

Greetings from Anderson Hall! While the date on this letter is May, this is actually my April letter sent a bit late. With the end of semester events I simply didn't get it done in time. Thus, I will have two campus letters in May - so consider this the "early May" letter

This has been a busy school year for Kansas State, with many accomplishments and things to be proud of. I would like to spend some time this month updating the K-State community on a variety of topics, many of which are ongoing, that we started at some point during this academic year.

K-State 2025

We continue to make excellent progress on the K-State 2025 visionary plan. During this past year, many of our colleges and similar units have been working on developing and aligning their strategic plans with the overall goals and outcomes as articulated in the university-wide K-State 2025 plan. This summer, the provost and I will be working with the leaders of those units to share initial unit plans with each other and to look for areas that cross unit boundaries. These plans will be posted online in early fall so the departmental plans will have the benefit of both the university- and unit-level planning documents. My goal is that by the end of 2012, we will have a set of linked strategic plans that are inclusive of departments, colleges and similar units all aligned to the university-wide K-State 2025 plan.

In addition to deciding which projects to plan and pursue, we also need to measure and report our progress on the visionary plan. It is important to develop quantitative measures for the university-wide theme areas - both short and long term. We will work with the campus community to identify and publicize these different items. As an example, consider Theme 2: Undergraduate Educational Experience. One of the short-term outcomes was "Increased participation by undergraduates in expanded opportunities for meaningful research." While this sounds terrific, how are we going to measure this and what is a quantitative goal for five years from now? A special task force has been working this spring semester to answer these questions so we have clear campus-wide measures that can be used in the alignment of college, major unit, departmental and university level 2025 plans.

As we have progressed through the planning process, I have continued to emphasize that we need to measure annual progress toward goals in a public manner. As such, we will also construct our first "K-State 2025 Report Card," which will report on annual progress toward goals. This report card needs to be easy to read, quantifiable, and show both short-term and long-term progress toward meeting our overall goal to be a Top 50 Public Research University. Check out the K-State 2025 website for more details about these important next steps that will close the loop on our strategic planning process begun two years ago.

Fundraising Campaign Planning

As we continue to raise our expectations and performance in private philanthropy to support implementation of K-State 2025, a number of activities are needed as we lay the groundwork for a significant university-wide fundraising campaign. We have had one retreat with the deans, vice presidents and development officers to discuss the philanthropic priorities that will advance us toward our goals of K-State 2025.

We have a second retreat scheduled for May, and anticipate several other meetings with our deans, unit leaders and development staff throughout 2012 as we collaboratively work on setting goals and priorities for the campaign. We need careful and strategic thinking about the types of university-wide, college- and unit-wide projects that should be included as we talk with prospective donors.

We will meet with campus leaders and development staff focused on fundraising and development strategies at the departmental level. If we are to achieve the magnitude of private support necessary, we will need the full engagement of department heads, deans and the vice presidents.

As we develop a more thorough list of visionary projects and transformational ideas, we will ensure that the entire campus community has the opportunity to provide feedback on potential ideas as well as to provide additional suggestions.

Faculty and Staff Salaries

I have had several conversations over the past couple of months with faculty and staff concerning the lack of significant increases for faculty and staff salaries during the last several years, both across-the-board increases and merit increases. I share your frustration at the lack of progress we have made in recent years in paying all of you competitive wages for the hard work you’re doing moving K-State forward. Although there are no easy answers or solutions that will address chronically low salaries, we can certainly start to develop plans to address compensation issues.

In my view, we need to set some clear benchmarks for faculty and staff salaries in comparison with our peer universities, including those peer institutions that are already top 50 public research universities. The faculty senate is working on proposing some goals and objectives on faculty and staff compensation, which will be discussed at a special session of the faculty senate Monday, May 14, in the Hemisphere Room at Hale Library. I encourage all interested faculty and staff to either come to the meeting, follow the discussion online, or to talk with your elected faculty senator and share your concerns and thoughts.

Administrative Searches

We have conducted several successful searches this past academic year, including the hiring of John Floros as our next dean of agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension and Debbie Mercer as our next dean of education. We have also hired Richard Potter as our first director of the Corporate Engagement Office. He will begin in early June.

In addition to these completed searches, we are in the final stages of national searches to fill the open CEO and dean of the K-State Salina campus campus as well as the new vice provost for undergraduate studies. We have attracted outstanding applicants to these positions, and I believe that bringing visionary leaders to key administrative posts is an important step in implementing K-State 2025.

I appreciate the hard work of all of our faculty and staff, both classified and unclassified, and wish everyone the best of success as we conclude another successful semester at Kansas State.

Go Cats!

Kirk