Letters to campus

November 13, 2012

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

Greetings from Anderson Hall! The fall semester has flown by quickly, and end-of-the-semester events are already starting to occur. I am constantly amazed by the multitude of interesting events and initiatives happening on campus. This month I want to update you on several items of general interest to our faculty and staff. 

You can imagine my surprise when I saw a wild turkey sitting in the backyard of the president's house recently. I got my camera and went out to take a picture. As I got close to the turkey, I was shocked when he said, "Good afternoon, Kirk! You have been keeping busy as it looks like there is a lot going on here at K-State." 

I know at this point some of you won't believe this, but let your imagination run wild — the following is what I remember of our conversation: (you should have a little bit of a smile by now)

Turkey: I was walking on the north side of campus, and I saw lots of construction. What is up with all of the equipment? 

Prez: We are currently expanding Bill Snyder Family Stadium, installing a new tennis facility, and finishing an expansion of the Peters Recreation Complex. 

Turkey: That is great, but what about some new academic space? 

Prez: I am glad you asked! In the next several years, we will add a new $40 million wing onto the Durland Hall engineering complex, a new $50 million business building, an $18 million renovation of Memorial Stadium to accommodate a student welcome center, a new $5 million Purple Masque Theater, and a $12 million feedmill facility. Additionally, we are also seeking funds for a complete remodel of Seaton Hall for the College of Architecture, Planning and Design, a possible expansion and remodel of the K-State Student Union, and a new first-year residence hall.  

Turkey: So where is all of this money to do these projects coming from? 

Prez: Much of the money will be from philanthropic gifts. We have a substantial number of very generous K-State donors who are providing large gifts to make these projects a reality. The new engineering building will have $20 million in private support while the new business building will be constructed with $35 million in private support. The welcome center renovation will be entirely privately funded. The other building projects are in early enough stages that we still are planning on how we will finance these campus facility improvements. 

Turkey: Cool! So, who will get the vacated space when some of the currently occupied buildings are empty — like Calvin Hall? 

Prez: In January 2013, we will put out an announcement to campus asking for proposals on how we can best use the vacated spaces in the central part of campus. We will carefully evaluate the submissions, and announce in July 2013 how the various open spaces will be used. The final decision on the use of the "open" spaces will be made by Cindy Bontrager, April Mason and myself. 

Turkey: I heard some faculty and staff talking the other day, and they mentioned you had some sort of odd malady called "task-force-itis," which I think means that recently you have had a significant number of task forces and committees producing reports. 

Prez: We have had many different planning exercises recently including K-State 2025 college strategic plans, plans for a major comprehensive fundraising campaign, undergraduate research task force plans, a hiring processes task force … the list goes on. 

Turkey: I get it … you have had lots of different groups producing reports. So, what is next? 

Prez: The task during early 2013 is to weave all of these different planning exercises together. The K-State 2025 planning at the university and college level is providing a key list of opportunities for our comprehensive fundraising campaign. The campus master plan is providing a facility blueprint for our future, and will help determine where we need to invest our infrastructure funds and efforts. Finally, all of these plans are helping us to identify clear ways in which we can measure progress and provide greater accountability to the campus community and the general public. I appreciate the significant amount of work which has gone into all of the different task force reports with the end result that we are getting a clearer picture of where we need to be spending our time, effort and funds to get us toward being a Top 50 public research university. 

Turkey: Brrrrr. I am getting cold. 

Prez: Well, the cold weather is upon us. As we go into the winter season, I would like to remind our faculty and staff to always assume that campus WILL be open and operational in the event of inclement weather. We will post notices on the K-State home page, and will use our texting and phone alert system to let you know the status of campus. 

Turkey: I have been standing around here long enough — it is time for me to go get something to eat. 

Prez: Come back anytime — by the way — what do you eat for Thanksgiving dinner? 

Turkey: (while running away) — Not me! 

I hope all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Go Cats!

Kirk