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K-State Today

May 10, 2024

A letter from President Linton

Submitted by Richard Linton

Dear K-State faculty, staff and students,

As the spring 2024 semester comes to a close, I have realized that in my 30 years in higher education, I've never experienced a year quite like this one. From launching our new Next-Gen K-State strategic plan to facing a personal battle with cancer, one thing remained consistent — the resilience, dedication and unwavering support of each and every one of you.

If there's one thing that K-Staters do, it's show up for one another. Your commitment to excellence in learning, creativity, discovery and engagement shines through in everything you do. The remarkable milestones we've achieved and the significant challenges we've overcome are all because of your hard work, passion and collaboration.

I want to take a moment to highlight just a few of the many great strides we made this year.

Enrollment and graduation
We proudly welcomed our largest freshman cohort in six years, a testament to the strength of our academic programs, the educators that make them happen and our dedicated recruitment and admissions teams. Our overall retention and graduation rates have shown steady growth, reflecting the commitment of our students and the support they receive from our faculty and staff. 

Congratulations to the 3,000-plus students who are graduating as part of the class of 2024. Your efforts have brought you to this moment, and I have no doubt that you will make a significant impact on the world. 

Academic innovation
Outstanding academic programs and faculty are key to meeting our aspiration to become a model next-generation land-grant university. Through the newly established University Outstanding Scholars Awards, we are recognizing outstanding mid-career faculty. The new Academic Innovation Fund is an investment in reimagining how we educate and prepare learners, challenging us to move beyond our traditional approaches and reshape our program offerings. With our new academic program review and revitalization, or APRR, program, we ensure we will shape our offerings to meet the changing needs of students with high quality education programs.

Health and well-being
Kansas State University became the first university in Kansas to adopt the Okanagan Charter to become a health-promoting university, emphasizing our commitment to fostering a culture of health and well-being for all members of our community and beyond. By prioritizing the physical, mental and emotional health of one another, we are laying the foundation for success both inside and outside the classroom.

Research excellence
Our research enterprise continues to thrive, with a significant increase of $50 million in competitive research grants compared to the previous year. The Game-Changing Research Initiation Program recipients further amplified our impact, positioning us as leaders in innovation and discovery.

Interdisciplinary initiatives
We established several interdisciplinary institutes, addressing pressing issues such as sustainability and food security. These projects, like the Kansas Water Institute, the Institute for Digital Agriculture and Advanced Analytics, the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Initiative and the Agriculture Innovation Initiative, represent our commitment to research, collaboration and innovation. By bringing together experts from diverse fields, we are driving meaningful change and making a positive impact on society.

Community engagement
Initiatives like K-State 105 deepened our connections with communities across all 105 Kansas counties. In March, we wrapped up our Presidential Regional Community Visits, where we traveled across the state to learn from community members so that we can better understand their needs and leverage our resources to effectively address the challenges facing Kansans. By working hand in hand with our community partners, we are fulfilling our land-grant mission to make a meaningful impact. We are still determining the best way forward for this initiative, but I am excited to see how we will take these efforts to the next level.

Investment in facilities
Our commitment to providing state-of-art facilities has never been stronger. We have doubled our investment in facilities, ensuring our students, faculty and staff have access to the resources vital to supporting teaching, research and student life. The feedback received through our ongoing Campus Master Planning effort will be essential in the future of our campus spaces. 

Fundraising success
Thanks to the incredible generosity of our donors, we hit extraordinary numbers this year. And, for the first time in our history, the KSU Foundation endowment has exceeded $1 billion through fundraising efforts this year. These funds will enrich our students' education and enhance campus facilities, ensuring that K-State remains a world-class institution for generations to come.

State and federal support
K-State has received incredible support this past year from the state and federal government, including securing funding for advancing aeronautic education, the Kansas Water Institute, the Agriculture Innovation Initiative and the Biosecurity Research Institute. These investments expand on our exceptional research and education so that we can meet the needs of Kansans, and we are grateful for the continued support of legislative and congressional leaders and staffers.

Global engagement
Our efforts to engage globally have earned us recognition on the international stage. The creation of the Global Partnership Directory will showcase the depth of our international collaborations, furthering our reputation as a global leader in education, research and innovation.

Athletic achievements
Our student-athletes achieved significant milestones both in competition and in the classroom. Their dedication, hard work and sportsmanship reflect the values of Kansas State University and inspire purple pride in our entire community.

Each of these accomplishments, and many more, were made possible because of you. Your commitment, passion and diligence have lifted us to new heights, further positioning us as the next-generation land-grant university.

As we look ahead, let us continue to remember that we are great people focused on great purpose that can and will achieve extraordinary things.

Thank you for your unwavering support and commitment to Kansas State University. I wish you all an incredible summer, and as always, Go 'Cats!

Richard Linton
Kansas State University

In this issue

From the president
From the administration
Human resources, benefits and training
Personnel changes
Kudos, publications and presentations
University life
Volunteer opportunities