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K-State Today

March 7, 2024

Next-Gen K-State monthly update

Submitted by Richard Linton

Dear K-State Community, 

As you know, each month we are taking the opportunity to take a deep dive into a specific area of our Next-Gen K-State strategic plan. Last month, we celebrated our unmatched, impactful student experience, highlighting the incredible support we offer our students and the opportunities we provide that drive them toward their future. This month, I'd like to take a closer look at how we are driving transformational discovery, innovation and scholarship through our research mission. 

First and foremost, I want to talk about why our research mission is so critical. As one of the components that stands up our three-part land-grant mission, research is essential to our growing and evolving society. Innovation is often the spark that drives humanity forward, and as a land-grant focused on improving lives and transforming the world around us for the better, research serves as an outlet for the delivery of our mission in an incredibly impactful and lasting way. The more opportunity we can provide to our research faculty, the more this institution becomes a reputation magnet where research faculty want to be and want to stay, contributing at the highest levels for the greatest good. 

Our strategic plan calls us to transform how we carry out our research mission in an integrated, interdisciplinary way, providing greater opportunity and greater collaboration to get us there. To do this, we are focusing on three key, multifaceted priorities that move us toward our 2030 goals of $300 million in annual research expenditures and $270 million in annual sponsored programs and awards:

  • Building and advancing K-State's research agenda.
  • Investing in robust infrastructure to support research and scholarship.
  • Reinforcing and strengthening the research workforce. 

Core to these key priorities is the need to establish and expand funding opportunities for our faculty. Last fall, the Office of Research announced major equipment grants in biomanfacturing and biosciences, and earlier this year, the office also announced the recipients of the 2024 GRIPex awards for AI in the disciplines. These are both part of a string of funding opportunities that also includes two newly announced opportunities within the past month:

Additionally, the plan calls for an audit and reestablishment of centers and institutes intentionally built around the K-State Opportunity Agenda areas of focus. You've already seen this begin with the launch of the Digital Agriculture and Advanced Analytics Institute and the Kansas Water Institute, and you'll see more effort around this work as we move forward. 

As we support higher levels of interdisciplinary collaboration, growing our faculty is an additional step toward reaching our goals. Because remember, our strategic plan is not about doing more with less, it's about doing more with more. That's why we launched our multidisciplinary hiring initiative in biomanufacturing last fall as well, the first of what we hope will be many cluster hiring initiatives to augment our already incredible research workforce and increase our capacities as we strive toward our goals. 

As we look at where our research enterprise stands today, we know we are already doing and achieving great things; new, intentional investments and realignments will take us to new heights. The latest Higher Education Research and Development, or HERD, survey and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, data together shows that we have opportunities to grow within our peer sets. By growing our research expenditures by a minimum of five percent annually from our 2021 baseline of $204 million, we are poised to exceed our Next-Gen goal of $300 million by 2030. 

Again, I cannot acknowledge enough that this growth begins with investment — investment in our people, investment in our facilities, investment from our state and federal partners, and a shared commitment to build solutions that cross disciplines and create new, impactful collaborations. That's the Next-Gen K-State way. We are building a brighter future for this institution's research enterprise, and in doing so, we are building a better future for society through the research and discovery that will embolden our future.    

Go 'Cats!

Rich Linton