Letters to campus
August 21, 2012
Dear Faculty and Staff,
Welcome back! Students are moved in and attending classes, the weather has started to cool down, and the traffic has picked up around Manhattan. I trust that each of you had a productive summer teaching and working on scholarly activities, and feel energized as we start the fall semester.
There is quite a bit going on around campus, so I am going to focus this month's campus letter on various news and notes as we get the fall 2012 semester underway.
First, we are very pleased to welcome 71 new colleagues to our faculty this fall. I have had the opportunity to meet with some of the new faculty members who hail from all around the world with degree credentials from some of the top research universities in the world. As you see new faculty and staff, please be sure to welcome them to Kansas and the K-State family!
Second, in an effort to ensure that we continue to facilitate transparency for university operations and emphasize regular communications between the central administration and our faculty and staff, Provost April Mason and I will once again be visiting colleges and similar units this fall. We will spend part of our visit with college leadership teams and the remainder will be spent in an "open-forum" atmosphere where we will present material on major university-wide issues and initiatives for the coming year. In a similar fashion to last year, we anticipate presenting for about 30 minutes, with the remainder of the time for discussion and questions.
The following dates have been set for our campus meetings, with specific times and locations to be communicated in the future from your respective deans:
August 21 — K-State Salina
September 5 — Veterinary Medicine
September 6 — Architecture, Planning and Design; Arts and Sciences
September 12 — Library
September 13 — Business Administration
September 21 — Engineering; Continuing Education
September 24 — President's Office, Provost's Office, Administration and Finance, Communications and Marketing
September 25 — Student Life
September 27 — K-State Olathe
September 28 — Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension
October 8 — Human Ecology
October 11 — Research Office and Graduate School; Athletics
April and I will discuss progress-to-date on K-State 2025; give some preliminary information on plans to address faculty and staff compensation; start a conversation on ways to more closely integrate distance education into our campus culture; and address other topics particular to each college. Many of the sessions will be taped for those of you who cannot participate at the specific meeting time. We certainly welcome suggestions for improvement at any time during the year.
Third, this past week we released the draft report that focused on identifying key research areas of excellence for Kansas State University as part of the K-State 2025 planning process. This is an incredibly difficult and complex task, and no matter what methodology is used, there will be concerns that some areas of research excellence were missed or not appropriately recognized.
Dr. Mary Rezac, ConocoPhillips Professor of Sustainable Energy in the department of chemical engineering, chaired a committee who spent months looking through significant amounts of data on journal publication citations and funded research grants to suggest a set of research excellence areas at Kansas State. The report is available online, and I encourage everyone in the campus community to read the report and to send us your comments and suggestions.
Part of our academic culture is to analyze and critique — and we need your feedback to improve our analyses and ensure that we have good university-wide consensus on areas of recognized research excellence. I would note that this report did not attempt to address key areas of K-State scholarship strength in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, and we will be putting together a group of faculty members this fall to explicitly make recommendations in these key areas of research, scholarship, and creative discovery.
Fourth, we have a significant number of construction projects going on around campus. Construction on college campuses lends a sense of vibrancy and progress, and I am pleased that we are undertaking so many different projects at the same time. I know that construction also brings with it challenges from noise, rerouted traffic, and other inconveniences — and I appreciate your flexibility as we continue to improve our campus environment. A few of the key projects underway currently include:
Jardine Apartment Housing. The perimeter road system and three new apartment buildings were completed in early August.
Basketball Training Facility. This project will be completed by early fall. The basketball training facility will be a Title IX compliant structure and include men's and women's locker rooms, two regulation-sized practice courts, offices, sports medicine, equipment/laundry and weight training facilities.
Bill Snyder Family Stadium – Phase II. This project is underway and will meet the need for additional premium seating and expand and update ancillary support areas that are currently not capable of serving our patrons. The project will be completed in August 2013.
Peters Recreation Center Expansion. The expansion of the Peters Recreations Center is underway and will be completed by late this year. A related project to update the tennis court area to an outdoor recreation area including tennis courts, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts and an updated outdoor equipment checkout facility is currently underway.
Grain Science Center – Feed Mill. The O. H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center project is a joint effort of K-State’s department of grain science and industry and the department of animal sciences and industry. The project will replace the feed-production capability provided by the feed mill at the corner of Denison and Kimball that is on the NBAF site and significantly enhance the research capacity of both departments. Construction began in late summer.
Justin Hall expansion. This project constructed a 16,000 square foot addition to Justin Hall for the College of Human Ecology and is complete, with a dedication Sept. 7.
West Memorial Stadium. Phase I of the renovation of this side of the old Memorial Stadium is underway. The interior is being demolished and the design for the Purple Masque Theatre has been finalized.
Fifth, I believe our campus looks great as the semester gets started. Our facilities personnel have worked diligently to ensure that our grounds look attractive and safe, that our buildings are clean and well maintained, and that campus in general is ready for us all to teach our classes, conduct our research, and remain engaged with helping Kansans through extension. The next time you see one of our staff members who is making a difference on our campus, please take a minute to say "thank-you."
I am looking forward to a great 2012-2013 school year. It is an honor to serve as your president, and I appreciate the dedication and hard work that each of our 5,881 faculty and staff members put in every day to make K-State great!