OURCI Vision Statement
Kansas State University’s vision for 2025 promises our undergraduate students—forty percent of whom are firstgeneration students—a world-class education at a world-class research university. Today, undergraduate research has become a prerequisite for admission to the world’s leading graduate and professional schools. It is no longer mere enrichment reserved for the lucky few. Today, faculty-mentored, formally presented, and often published undergraduate research is the golden key that opens the gateway to academic, career, and professional success.
Thus, Kansas State University has founded a new Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry (OURCI). As the first land-grant college created under the Morrill Act and the state’s first public university, Kansas State University has enjoyed a pioneering spirit from its inception. As a university defined by access as well as excellence, Kansas State’s first students included, notably, equal numbers of men and women, while its considerable research prowess, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, informed and enriched a distinctive undergraduate experience.
The new Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry (OURCI) squarely addresses one of the eight university-wide benchmark measures enshrined in K-State 2025: A Visionary Plan, namely “Percentage of Undergraduates Involved in Formalized Research.” This forward-looking goal, and the prominence accorded it, acknowledges the broad importance of discovery, faculty mentoring, active learning, and student creativity which are at the heart of the University’s plans to strengthen undergraduate education. Broadly understood to include the creative inquiry which is part and parcel of every academic discipline at the university, undergraduate research provides high-impact learning that inspires students to engage the edges of the known universe of knowledge.
A unique quality of K-State’s new Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry is that it incorporates and expands upon the Developing Scholars and the Edgerley-Franklin Urban Leadership Scholarship Programs, both highly successful efforts to promote research and engaged learning opportunities for talented high-potential students from underrepresented, first-generation, and low-income communities. The OURCI will showcase the expertise won in these efforts via many new initiatives designed to provide opportunities for all motivated undergraduate students.
Housed in renovated space which features student work stations and areas designed to facilitate collaboration, specific new OURCI initiatives include a university-wide undergraduate research and travel grant program, universitywide celebrations of undergraduate research, a student-edited undergraduate research journal, a peer ambassador program, and a workshop series which addresses current issues in undergraduate research and creative inquiry. With additional resources, the OURCI plans to expand its outreach to include an undergraduate research-oriented recruitment program, a university-wide lecture series, and increasingly ambitious funding opportunities to help KStaters address the needs of our changing, diverse, and interconnected world. Today’s undergraduates are as ambitious as their research questions are complex, and at K-State they receive the mentoring and support they need to participate in the process of developing helpful knowledge and real-world solutions to address pressing problems.