Next-Gen K-State plan reimagines educational access and opportunity
Kansas State University is leaning into its land-grant heritage and mission with its Next-Gen K-State strategic plan.
Built from input from more than 10,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and other university stakeholders — including the 2,457 Kansans who participated in last academic year’s regional community visits across the state — the plan outlines how the university will transform to serve new kinds of learners, solve grand global challenges and contribute to the economic prosperity of the state.
“Being a next-generation land-grant university requires us to renew our commitment to the land-grant mission, which is all about access and opportunity,” said Richard Linton, K-State president. “But access and opportunity today means something different than it did in 1863 — we must evolve to meet the needs of today’s learners who are seeking different kinds of training and education, and we must embrace our responsibility to serve the state, nation and world through research and engagement in new and exciting ways.”
The plan, which outlines key priorities for the institution, four distinct opportunity areas for interdisciplinary focus, and 17 relevant measures of success, will guide the university through the year 2030. Specific goals around student enrollment and retention, academic innovation and applied learning experiences, research growth and impact, and engagement and economic impact will define the future of the university.
“As the nation’s first operational land-grant university, we view it as our responsibility to redefine what that means in modern-day contexts — and by delivering unmistakable value to all who wish to learn, grow and prosper, we will set the standard for what a highly engaged, people-centered, and learner-focused university can and should be,” Linton said.
Growing research and setting the K-State opportunity agenda
When it comes to the research arm of the university, the strategic plan outlines a goal of increased annual research expenditures and growing the university’s research enterprise by this measure to $300 million by 2030.
K-State has both an opportunity and an imperative to bring resources and expertise together in a way that respects the university’s unique structure and challenges historical norms.
The university also has identified four interdisciplinary areas of focus where K-State is uniquely positioned to serve: community health and well-being, sustainability, global food security and biosecurity, and enabling technologies. These four areas make up what the university is calling the K-State opportunity agenda.
Community health and well-being
This focus area encompasses understanding physical, social and cultural features of a community; researching social dynamics and cohesion within a community; identifying and addressing factors that drive health disparities, including social determinants of health and health care policies; and identifying and enhancing the structures, policies and practices that impact accessibility to education.
This focus area includes considerations of water and resource management practices, the natural and environmental factors that impact resource usage, our health, environment and society; the conservation and restoration of biodiversity; and economic policies and cultural practices and their impacts on human ecology.
Global food security and biosecurity
Relevant work in this focus area includes practices for increasing food production and the impact of social, political and environmental policies and factors on production, as well as strategies for preventing and controlling infectious diseases and environmental factors that contribute to their prevalence. Other areas may include communication and human impact, supply chain considerations and the interactions between policy and economics that affect food access and security.
This focus area considers how to advance and understand the implications of natural language processing and machine learning, as well as integration of technology across foundational elements of modern human life. It also includes the opportunity to consider the ethical and societal impacts of these integrations.