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K-State Today

April 27, 2020

K-State 2025 strategic initiatives update, Innovation in Education white papers available for comment

Submitted by Chuck Taber

Dear colleagues, 

When I provided my Feb. 3 update on the K-State 2025 strategic initiatives 10 weeks ago, little did I imagine the circumstances that would shape this spring semester. Later that week, the President and I shared the results of the K-State 2025 Refresh fall 2019 feedback. We also launched a survey to collect additional ideas on strategic initiatives and priorities. I am writing today to share the results of that recent survey and invite comments on two white papers resulting from the work of the Innovation in Education planning group.

The Strategic Initiatives and Priorities survey closed on March 30. The survey report supplements the fall 2019 K-State 2025 feedback. You can find this report, along with all other 2025 Refresh feedback, pre-pandemic, on the K-State 2025 website. 

Innovation in Education is one of our areas of special strategic importance to our university. The planning group met between November 2019 and March 2020 with a charge to consider two separate, but related, areas for future innovation at Kansas State University. 

  • Academic/Educational Innovation. Define a structure and growth strategy for a new or reimagined unit that will support K-State's academic units in innovation of academic programs and the development of cutting-edge pedagogy.
  • Online Growth. Catalyze the expansion of online education at K-State by aligning strategy, tactics, and structure for online growth to enhance revenue and K-State's marketing position. 

The planning group, divided in two teams facilitated by our Huron Consulting Group partners, participated in a series of ideation, collaborative brainstorming, and prioritization exercises over multiple working sessions. The process was grounded in an analysis of the current state of academic innovation and online programming at K-State, as well a consideration of technological and pedagogical trends, peer and competitor actions, and prevailing market forces shaping the environment in which we want to drive innovation. 

I am happy to share today two white papers (with associated appendices) resulting from this work. Access will require an eID and password. These white papers detail 12 recommendations from each of the respective work teams and include a selection of thoughts from the Huron team that offer either additional context and advice or a slightly different perspective on the implementation of prioritization of a given recommendation.

Our next step is to hear from you. The planning group, including faculty, staff, students, and alumni, brought a wide range of perspectives to this work. We are eager to now leverage the collective expertise and experience of the broader K-State community. Please read the Educational Innovation and Online Growth white papers and share your feedback and comments via the online surveys on the K-State 2025 Refresh website. Please log in with your eID and password to access the surveys. The surveys will be available until May 22, 2020.

Please note that these white papers include recommendations only. Once the comment period concludes, we will review the recommendations in conjunction with the feedback to make decisions about if, when, and how to adopt them. It is also important to note that since the white papers were completed, K-State's operating context has changed dramatically with the shift to the remote instruction resulting from the broader public health and financial crises. Many of the recommendations may be more relevant than ever to K-State’s future; others may not be as relevant. We may need new recommendations as well. 

What we do know is that the global pandemic further underscores the importance of innovation in education and online growth. Some of the most important next questions we will tackle surround how to pursue innovation in an immensely changed higher education environment, and society in general. I encourage you to reflect on this and review the white papers within this context. 

I am excited about the opportunities for growth and constructive change as we continue our conversation about innovation in education. Our university community came together in amazing ways to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on our students, faculty, and staff. Many of you have been working tirelessly over the past two months, truly putting innovation into action. As we look ahead, we need to remember that innovation is rarely something that just happens and it will require discipline to enhance our ability to innovate repeatedly and effectively.

I also want to thank the Innovation in Education planning group members for lending their experience and forward-thinking to advance our understanding of innovation opportunities at K-State. Their work will serve as a foundation for our dialogue about how we position K-State in the future in the innovation space. I look forward to meeting with them later this spring once we have collected your comments and suggestions. 

Last fall we announced the four strategic initiatives that we would explore as part of the K-State 2025 Refresh. I believe these strategic initiatives of Innovation in Education; Global Food, Health, and Biosecurity; the Cyber Land-Grant University, and Aviation could not be more relevant today and for our future. I will provide another update on all these initiatives in the coming weeks.

Stay safe and #kstatestrong! 

Chuck Taber
Provost and executive vice president