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K-State Today

April 11, 2024

Next-Gen K-State monthly update

Submitted by Richard Linton

Dear K-State Community,

When you think of all the ways K-State serves Kansas communities, what comes to mind for you? Maybe it's a student from a small Kansas town taking what they learn at K-State and bringing it back to their community. Maybe it's a professor researching water to ensure a sustainable supply for the Kansas crops that feed the world. Or, maybe it's an Extension agent supporting a community in efforts to offer more day care services. Whatever it is, I challenge you to expand your thinking, because that's exactly what we're doing as part of our Next-Gen K-State strategic plan. We're reimagining how all of us, across the institution, can connect with those whom we serve. We need each and every one of you to help us integrate engagement into everything we do, even the things we might not think of when we read the word "engagement."

So, what does that look like? It looks like bringing the heart to higher education so that we're all working together toward the same goal. And it's about actively defining the value that higher education contributes to society.

Being a positive force for the Kansas economy
We've already made significant strides in this area. In fiscal year 2023, K-State contributed an impressive $2.3 billion to Kansas' economy. Initiatives like K-State 105, in collaboration with the statewide Extension network, are forging partnerships with fellow higher education institutions, businesses, nonprofits and state agencies to foster economic prosperity across all 105 Kansas counties.

Investing in the jobs and economies of tomorrow
As outlined in the Economic Prosperity Plan in alignment with the Kansas Board of Regents' Building a Future strategic plan, K-State has established a goal to create 3,000 new jobs and attract $3 billion in direct investments to Kansas by 2029. We are creating partnerships, making investments and creating jobs — and we are just getting started. We're reshaping our corporate engagement, linking academia and industry for mutual progress.

Working together to build the K-State Opportunity Agenda
Through strategic community partnerships, we can amplify K-State's impact and relevance across all areas of the K-State Opportunity Agenda. Initiatives like the interdisciplinary Kansas Water Institute, the Institute for Digital Agriculture and Advanced Analytics and the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Initiative are aligning our efforts with the most pressing needs of Kansans.

Integrating engagement across all we do
During the past two years, we traveled across the state to continue engaging with community members in all 105 Kansas counties in regional community visits, fostering connections and learning the needs of Kansans. We're continuing this effort by launching a statewide initiative called "Delivering on the Promise." We're traveling across the state to hold more than 75 conversations that will determine how we can enhance Extension and engagement programs to better address the needs of Kansans. We had the very first conversation this week, and although it is still early, we know this will help us to shape our engagement and Extension efforts together.

And that's just one piece of the puzzle.

We're also strengthening our government relations efforts at both federal and state levels to secure funding that aids us in solving the problems faced by our state residents. We've recently secured $33.5 million in federal funding to further transform our K-State Salina campus into an aerospace education hub, thanks to our outstanding government relations across the university. Improved communications and marketing strategies, including the appointment of a new vice president for communications and marketing, are boosting our visibility and connectivity. Expanded efforts in military and veterans affairs external relations reaffirm our commitment to providing access to education and advancement opportunities for those who have served our nation. By revitalizing the Landon Lecture Series and the Presidential Engagement Fellows, formerly the Presidential Lecture Series, we're providing platforms for intellectual discourse and community engagement.

In leveraging our university's assets and partnerships, we're tapping into the collective power of internal resources like the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, the McCain Performance Series, K-State Libraries, K-State Gardens, the K-State Student Union and the Berney Family Welcome Center, as well as external resources like the K-State Alumni Association, the KSU Foundation and K-State Athletics. This is creating opportunities to deepen our connections and welcome more people back to K-State.

Moving forward together
These initiatives are just the beginning of lasting change. We need to continually innovate, collaborate and adapt. It will take every member of our university community — whether faculty, student or staff — to make this happen. Your contributions shape the collective impact of our institution. Let's seize this opportunity to create a future where engagement is not just an activity but a fundamental part of who we are.

Together, we can integrate engagement across all we do, maximizing our collective impact and delivering on our land-grant promise of excellence and service.

Go 'Cats!
Richard Linton