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K-State Today

June 18, 2018

Letter from the vice provost for undergraduate studies

Submitted by Steven Dandaneau

Dear colleagues:

This is my fourth quarterly update for the 2017-18 academic year.

In my most recent letter, I shared the paradoxical adage that a lot has to change around here to keep things the same. To this, I would add: the quality-and-quantity of undergraduate education are two sides of the same coin of the realm. Undergraduate students pursuing and more often than not succeeding in achieving high-quality university educations is the life-blood of a student-centered national research university, public or private.

Three corollaries. First, my participation at the 2018 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity, or NCORE, drove home the point that the quantity/quality of diversity, inclusion, and social justice is/are essential for undergraduate quality. This conference made me uncomfortable now and again, but how else does one learn in this area other than through unlearning some things?

Second, my participation in the 2018 Reinvention Collaborative meeting at the University of Texas-Austin underscored what we know, that our research university peers are moving quickly to strengthen undergraduate curricula, expand co-curricular opportunities, and innovate in the realm of teaching and learning. Academic leaders are also collaborating more and more with student affairs leaders to address crises in student basic needs — e.g., food insecurity — and student personal wellness — e.g., anxiety and depression.

Third, I call attention to the University of Chicago's decision last week to abandon mandatory use of standardized test scores for admission and scholarship allocation. Combined with a new first-generation student scholarship program, UChicago's bold policy changes may perhaps foreshadow a sustainable model for 21st century undergraduate education that is both inclusive and excellent — and excellent in part because inclusive.

There are two personnel changes on which I am able to offer brief indication ahead of what I anticipate will be announcements prior to the fall semester.

Brad Cunningham is the inaugural coordinator, University Advising, a role that furthers his support of the Student Success Collaborative, or SSC. Brad will continue as an academic advisor in the College of Business Administration as well. Many thanks to SGA for its support of this position.

Tracey Lee will begin Aug. 13 as coordinator, Office of Pre-Law Advising. Tracey earned her Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Kansas State University and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law. She succeeds Daralyn Gordon Arata, whose 16 years leading the pre-law office concluded in April.

My last day at K-State is June 30. Kansas State University is known far and wide as one of the great land-grant institutions of higher learning, featuring a complement of undergraduates who are as endearing as they are high-achieving. I thank Provost Mason for providing me the opportunity to serve, and I am grateful for so many cherished K-State friends and colleagues.


Steven P. Dandaneau, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies