December 5, 2014
K-State 2025 Snapshots of Success: Engagement, Extension, Outreach, and Service – Theme 4
By President Kirk Schulz and Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason
"Be a national leader and model for a re-invented and transformed public research land-grant university integrating research, education, and engagement."
This K-State 2025 Theme 4 goal speaks to the essence of our identity and legacy as our nation's first operational land-grant university. It is what differentiates us from the other institutions of higher education in our state. It speaks to our passion for making a difference and having a positive impact on our communities, our state, our nation and the world.
We are continuing our K-State 2025 theme letters to campus today with Theme 4: Engagement, Extension, Outreach, and Service, referred to in our university plan as "Engagement." Our Theme 4 action plan envisions Kansas State University being recognized as a leader and partner in engagement on a global scale, reaching both rural and urban communities and engaged in the significant social, political, health, economic and environmental issues of our time. It calls for an increased number of students engaged in service learning, all undergraduate students engaged in at least one engagement/service learning project during their time at K-State, and increased numbers and diversity of faculty and staff participating in engagement activities. It also calls for increased extramural funding and public/private sector partnerships supporting engagement initiatives at the local, state, national and international levels. It envisions K-State as a preferred destination for those who value engagement as integral to their academic and personal lives.
This past year we celebrated the centennial of the Cooperative Extension Service and the passage of the Smith-Lever Act — a reminder of our commitment as a land-grant institution to contribute to the public good. Across our university and throughout our extension offices, K-Staters expanded our engagement work during 2013-2014. Here are some of the highlights.
In addition to securing four USAID Feed the Future Innovation Laboratories, the university launched a major interdisciplinary global food systems initiative to leverage its land-grant heritage and strengths with opportunities provided by the construction of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan. The state of Kansas provided $5 million to support work in the area of global food systems. The university became the home of the nation's first National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Industry/University Cooperative Research Center on Wheat Genetic Resources.
With the fifth anniversary of the creation of the Johnson County Education Triangle Authority (JCERTA), K-State Olathe celebrated expanding public and private sector partnerships advancing education, research and outreach in the Kansas City metropolitan area. New initiatives announced during 2013-2014 include the K-State Olathe Innovation Accelerator, the Microbial Surveillance Laboratory funded through a Merck Animal Health award to K-State's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and postharvest quality and shelf-life studies focused on the reduction of produce losses funded by $1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture award to K-State Olathe-based team with partners from Research and Extension and University of Florida.
The groundbreaking for the K-State Bulk Solids Innovation Center in Salina took place in July. This research center — the only one of its kind in North America — will study bulk solids material handling and is another example of a university/private/public sector research partnership, which includes the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, the Salina Economic Development Corporation, the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, the state of Kansas, and the city of Salina.
K-State received a USDA grant to advance the Rural Grocery Initiative with industry partners Affiliated Foods Midwest and NuVal LLC. Grants also were received to increase the resiliency of beef cattle operations in the face of climate variability and to work on protecting Kansas and U.S. wheat from the deadly wheat blast disease. With our partners, we received the USDA Secretary's Honor Award for Ogallala Aquifer Program.
Ten start-up ventures were helped by the College of Business Administration Launch a Business (LAB) Program, a new program delivering courses, research and mentorship to new ventures in Kansas. The College of Education's Kansas Educational Leadership Institute (KELI) grew to include mentoring of principals across our state. The Office of Diversity received a grant to advance the Project IMPACT leadership and networking program focused on African-American, Hispanic and multiracial youths ages 14-17 in eight Kansas counties. The first K-State military research and practice symposium was at Fort Riley co-sponsored by the College of Education and the Institute for Health and Security of Military Families.
K-State Research and Extension (KSRE) continued to reach across the state with a new total of 16 districts serving 45 counties. This consolidation into districts is resulting in increased efficiencies and enhanced services during a time of fiscal constraint. KSRE programs continued making a difference in the lives of Kansans, including the Kansas PRIDE volunteer program to enhance the quality of life in Kansas communities, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), Senior Health Insurance Education for Kansas, Walk Kansas, the Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), the Kansas Family Nutrition program (FNP), and the ServSafe Food Safety Education program. Sixty-one percent of local Kansas 4-H units showed increase in community club enrollment and 4-H also is adding Special Interest (SPIN) clubs to increase participation by nontraditional students.
Partnerships between K-State Libraries, McCain Auditorium, Beach Museum, the College of Education and the KSU Foundation brought rich cultural and educational programs to the Manhattan campus and community. K-State Libraries saw a 10 percent increase in community participation in library-sponsored programs.
Engagement at the global level continued to grow. The Division of Continuing Education was renamed the K-State Global Campus to acknowledge its role in building the university's distance education programs to serve non-resident students in our state, nation and around the world. A record number of graduates in spring 2014 earned degrees via distance.
The Go Teacher program with the Ecuadorian government grew, with more than 100 Ecuadorian students completing K-State's Go Teacher program and more than 40 starting a master's degree. Engagement with our Australian partners expanded with the launch of the Oz-to-Oz program to support travel for faculty developing working relationships with Australian counterparts, active student exchange programs, inclusion as an international partner in the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Center, and sponsorship of two Fulbright scholarships for an Australian Fulbright Distinguished Chair and a Senior Scholar.
Two areas in which we need to do more work at the university level are corporate engagement and better ways to assess and measure the engagement we do. Last year, a Corporate Engagement strategic directions task force completed a draft plan to drive corporate engagement, which was released for university comment. The plan is being finalized this fall and will be implemented in the coming years. In addition, we launched the Engagement Benchmarking Tool (EBT) last January in an effort to assess our community engagement efforts. We hope to be able to use this tool in the future to identify baseline data in particular areas of engagement focus for K-State 2025, such as service learning.
Finally, we should all be proud of our alumni engagement. For the 18th consecutive year, the K-State Alumni Association retained the No. 1 ranking in the Big 12 for the percent of graduates who are members. This speaks volumes about the experience our alumni have had as K-Staters.
Look for our letter next week on Theme 5: Faculty and Staff and Theme 6: Facilities and Infrastructure.
Go Cats and thanks for all you do!
President Kirk Schulz
Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason