Douglas A. Girod, chancellor, sent the following message to all University of Kansas students, faculty and staff members on Jan. 16, the first day of the 2018 spring semester.
Welcome back, Jayhawks! I hope you had a joyful holiday season, and I trust you are ready for another productive year. With classes beginning today, I want to take a moment to look ahead to some highlights of the upcoming semester.
This semester brings new milestones in the transformation of our campuses. This morning we are holding the first-ever classes in the Earth, Energy, and Environment Center (EEEC) – which comprises Ritchie and Slawson Halls – and we look forward to seeing you at a celebration event April 25 for the new facilities. Not far from the EEEC, on April 2 we will open the new Burge Union as the latest component of our Central District. And later this spring, construction begins on an indoor football facility adjacent to Memorial Stadium.
We will continue to host leaders from all areas of society. This month, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will visit KU to teach a course and visit with students, staff and alumni. Later in the spring, we will welcome #MeToo creator and TIME Magazine 2017 Person of the Year Tarana Burke as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities sponsored by our Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center and Student Union Activities.
This semester, we can look forward to continued excellence from our students and faculty. I am especially excited to watch our KU Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble I and dance professor Michelle Heffner Hayes perform April 29 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. This will be a tremendous opportunity for these KU performers and the proud KU alumni in the area.
No semester reaches its full potential without generous support from donors. This year, alumni and friends from around the world will come together for One Day, One KU, a special day of giving on February 20 designed to show support for our students and the work you do.
We also welcome new KU leaders this semester. Last week, I was delighted to announce Dr. Robert Simari as the executive vice chancellor for KU Medical Center and Reggie Robinson as the vice chancellor for public affairs. Both have served in interim roles since last summer and provided crucial leadership and stability to KU during a time of transition. I am excited to have them as permanent members of our team.
The 2018 Kansas legislative session began last week, and as always, we continue to work with lawmakers on issues related to higher education. This session, the top priority for the Kansas Board of Regents and the state’s six universities is to work with lawmakers to restore $24 million in Fiscal Year 2017 budget cuts to the higher education system. For KU, these funds total $7.4 million.
On April 20, we will gather for my installation ceremony to mark new beginnings and celebrate with colleagues near and far. While this day is partially about me – which is humbling and appreciated – it is mostly a celebration of your work and our shared aspirations. I am excited to celebrate this special day with you.
Thank you for all you do on behalf of KU. I look forward to another great year.
Chancellor Douglas A. Girod sent the following message to University of Kansas faculty and staff members on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. The message was also posted on the chancellor’s website.
It is my pleasure to announce that Reggie Robinson has agreed to serve as our vice chancellor for public affairs. We are fortunate to have a leader of his experience and talents in this critical role for our campuses.
Reggie’s deep experience in higher education has made him an invaluable counselor to me since he began serving in this role in an interim capacity in August. In addition, he has already nurtured meaningful relationships inside and outside our campuses, and I know he will help us achieve our goals and raise our stature here and across the country.
Before his move to Strong Hall, Reggie had led our School of Public Affairs & Administration since 2014. From 2002-10, he served as president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents. Before assuming his position with the Regents, he served as chief of staff to KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway and visiting professor at the KU School of Law. He has also worked as a law professor and director of the Center for Law and Government at Washburn University. From 1993-98, he served at senior levels in the U.S. Department of Justice, initially as a White House Fellow assigned as a special assistant to Attorney General Janet Reno. He went on to serve in a number of senior executive posts in the department.
Reggie earned his undergraduate and law degrees from KU and was an intern for Sen. Bob Dole in 1978. Between college and law school, he served four years as a field artillery officer in the U.S. Army.
The vice chancellor for public affairs oversees communications, outreach and government relations for KU. In this role, Reggie will be responsible for setting and carrying out a strategic communications agenda that elevates KU’s reputation at the international, national, state and local levels. He will also have responsibility for internal and external communications and the integration of messages across all KU campuses, affiliates and partners.
The Office of Public Affairs comprises the offices of Strategic Communications, Government Relations, Marketing Communications, the KU News Service, Event Management & Protocol, and Kansas Public Radio and Audio-Reader.
Reggie Robinson honored by Black Alumni Network
Last fall, the Alumni Association’s Black Alumni Network named Robinson among the recipients of the Mike and Joyce Shinn Leaders and Innovators Award. The project recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.
Watch the video below to learn more about Robinson.
The University of Kansas, in consultation with The University of Kansas Health System and The University of Kansas Physicians, announced that Robert D. Simari, M.D., the Franklin E. Murphy Professor in Cardiology, has been named executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center.
“Dr. Simari has served as interim executive vice chancellor since July 1, and he has provided tremendous leadership and stability to the medical center during a time of transition,” said Douglas A. Girod, chancellor of the University of Kansas. “I am pleased KU Medical Center is in capable hands, and I look forward to working closely with Dr. Simari to advance the medical center’s mission.”
Simari will continue to serve as executive dean for the School of Medicine. A national search for his replacement will begin in the coming weeks.
“As an alumnus and executive dean of the KU School of Medicine, it is a great honor and a humbling experience to be named executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center,” said Dr. Simari. “This is an exciting time in the 114-year history of the medical center, and I look forward to collaborating with our partners and other university leaders to continue to train the best health professionals for Kansas, improve the health of our region and discover the cures and treatments of tomorrow.”
A 1986 graduate of the KU School of Medicine, Simari has served as executive dean of the medical school since March 2014. He currently serves as the chief academic and administrative officer for the School of Medicine and provides oversight and leadership to all three medical school campuses: Kansas City, Wichita and Salina.
Simari has been instrumental in guiding the School of Medicine’s new curriculum development and the construction of the Health Education Building, both of which debuted this past summer. Simari is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. He is the vice president of the Association of University Cardiologists and will serve as president in 2018.
Prior to joining the KU Medical Center, Simari served as vice chair for the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and co-principal investigator of the Center for Translational Science Activities at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he also served as a physician scientist, cardiologist and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
While at the Mayo Clinic, Simari’s research laboratory made fundamental discoveries in the areas of thrombosis and identification of vascular stem cells, and for 10 years he has led the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute-funded Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research Network, which performs early phase clinical trials in cardiovascular cell therapy. In addition, he continues his cardiology practice at The University of Kansas Health System.
Simari earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame. Following medical school, he completed his residency at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, then served fellowships in cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology at the Mayo Clinic. Following his clinical training, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan.
It’s time for our sometimes-annual roundup of holiday cards from departments across the University of Kansas campus.
KU School of Music
The KU School of Music’s video greeting includes original music and animation by Leslee Wood, a graduate student working on a doctorate in musicology. The music is performed by the Bellissimo bell choir, directed by KU alumnus Jackson Thomas.
KU School of Law
Dean Stephen Mazza and the entire KU School of Law family are wishing Jayhawks an easy, breezy holiday season filled with peace & good cheer. Their greeting gives a playful nod to Dean Mazza’s area of expertise, tax policy and procedure.
KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
As the fall semester drew to a close, the College took the time to thank those who makes the KU experience special for everyone involved with a snowy picture of the bronze “Academic Jay” outside their office in Strong Hall.
Thank you, Jayhawks, for another fantastic semester. It’s you, our creative, compassionate and curious faculty, students, staff and alumni, that make the College the #HeartofKU. We appreciate all you do and hope you enjoy the winter break! pic.twitter.com/jhV3m7hWox
The following message was sent to University of Kansas faculty and staff members on Friday, Dec. 15, which was the last day of the fall semester.
In July, I had the honor of writing you for the first time as chancellor. Today, as our semester comes to a close, I would like to take a moment to reflect on my first six months in Strong Hall and thank you for your support.
My first semester has been a whirlwind — and I’ve loved every minute of it! From Rotary lunches to university governance events, donor visits to department meetings, advisory boards to volleyball matches, I have visited with individuals across our campuses and throughout the nation. These interactions have confirmed for me that KU is blessed with remarkable students, employees and supporters who care deeply about this university.
My goal for KU is to improve every aspect of our mission, elevate our national stature, attract the best scholars, and enhance our status in the Association of American Universities. To do this, we are focusing on improving the student experience, expanding our outreach to the state, and growing our research enterprise. Thanks to you, we have made strides in all of these areas this semester. Here are just a few of the highlights:
The semester began with the first cohort of students to train in the new Health Education Building at KU Medical Center and the first students to live in the new Cora Downs Residence Hall in our Central District. These facilities are the latest examples of the ongoing transformation of our campuses.
This semester, enrollment increased for the fourth straight year, and we recruited the most talented and diverse freshman class in history. We also welcomed 2,000 prospective students and family members to campus for Crimson & Blue Day with the goal of continuing our recruitment success in 2018.
Our researchers excelled this semester. Kristin Bowman-James and her colleagues received $20 million from the National Science Foundation for research on microorganisms. Joanna Slusky won an NIH grant to further her work in combating antibiotic resistance. Three KU faculty were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Cory Berkland became our fourth National Academy of Inventors fellow.
This semester saw outstanding achievements from our students. Our debate team enjoyed one of the most successful fall semesters in program history, and junior Anastasia Rychagova was ranked the nation’s No. 1 tennis player and named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. In November, the Military Times ranked us No. 5 for our commitment to military-affiliated students. We also continued to make campus more welcoming and inclusive through our Campus Climate Study and related initiatives.
KU continued to host some of the most remarkable leaders on the planet. In October, we welcomed President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, himself a KU alumnus and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Shortly after, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg chose KU for a fireside chat broadcast to the world.
If this seems like a lot of great news for one semester, that’s because it is. Each of you contributed to these successes, and for that you have my sincerest appreciation.
The following messages was sent to University of Kansas faculty, staff, and affiliates on Monday, Oct. 16.
Last month, we were delighted to announce that enrollment at the University of Kansas has grown for the fourth straight year to its highest level since 2011. Additionally, this year’s freshmen have the highest average high school GPA and are the most diverse of any class in KU history. Retention and graduation rates are also higher than ever.
This is terrific news and a clear indication that we are progressing on key institutional goals. Moreover, this progress is the result of strategic choices we’ve made and the efforts of faculty and staff like you. So today, I want to thank you for your part in bringing talented Jayhawks to KU and helping them succeed here. In addition to providing these students a life-changing opportunity, your efforts elevate the university as a whole.
It’s worth reflecting on the improvements we’ve made in how we identify and attract new Jayhawks. In recent years, this has included new renewable scholarships, new admissions standards and an evolution in our recruitment focus from a regional model to a national/international model.
Of course, we can only recruit new students if we have an outstanding product to offer — and because of you, we do! We have nationally ranked academic programs and transformative opportunities across our departments. We have beautiful and well-run campuses. And we have talented marketing practitioners who present KU in a smart and friendly way.
This year’s record-setting retention and graduation rates speak to the ways you support students once they arrive here. This support happens in the classroom when instructors go the extra mile for their students. It includes programs that help Jayhawks in times of crisis. And it includes the work being done to improve the student experience by redesigning courses, using predictive analytics, strengthening academic advising and streamlining processes.
I also want to highlight the vital role of private giving in recruiting and retaining top scholars, as well as our incredible alumni, who are the best Jayhawk ambassadors you can find anywhere.
The truth is, each of you plays a crucial role in recruiting new Jayhawks and ensuring they earn their degree. Again, thank you for the work you do.
If you know any prospective students who want to become Jayhawks, encourage them to apply by November 1 to be eligible for scholarships.
On Friday, September 22, Kansas Athletics and the Williams Education Fund launched Raise The Chant, a $350-million fundraising campaign, focused primarily on a major renovation of Memorial Stadium.
University of Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod and Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger presented renderings of the multi-million dollar project, lead by a $50 million pledge from Kansas alumnus and benefactor David Booth, c’68, g’69.
The Booth gift will launch facility improvements with the construction of an indoor football practice facility immediately following the 2017 season. Improvements to the south end zone and the west side of the stadium will follow after the completion of the 2018 season, with enhancements to the north end zone and the stadium’s east side to begin later.
“In listening to Sheahon’s vision of many years,” Booth said, “and believing in where Coach Self’s program is and where Coach Beaty’s program is headed, I am proud to support my alma mater’s athletic program. I believe Sheahon’s plan for football and basketball is essential not only to the future of Kansas Athletics, but also to the university as a whole.”
“The Raise The Chant campaign, with its primary focus on football, addresses an institutional priority for the University of Kansas,” Chancellor Girod said. “A competitive football program benefits the entire university and is important for KU to continue being a strong member of the Big 12 Conference. In recent years, we have transformed the university with nearly $1 billion in new and renovated facilities, and this is the next step in that transformation. I have the utmost confidence in Sheahon and believe we have the right people at the right time for this campaign.”
The campaign continues a trend of rapid growth in athletic facilities, including soccer, track and field, softball and tennis at Rock Chalk Park, and the construction of the DeBruce Center, home of the original rules of basketball, and McCarthy Hall, where the men’s basketball team and other students reside.
Also announced as part of the campaign was a $10 million pledge from volleyball benefactor Stewart Horejsi, b’59, and his family, to build a new, 3,000 arena for the defending Big 12 volleyball champions. Baseball’s long-time home, Hoglund Ballpark, is also in line for renovations and improvements during the “Raise the Chant” campaign.
“We want to extend a heartfelt thanks to our generous donors,” Zenger continued, “in particular David Booth, and Stewart Horejsi and his family. They, once again, have not only bought in to our vision of what Kansas Athletics can be, but also have actively participated in that vision. We appreciate very much the leadership they have shown, and we are confident that others will follow their lead and help make that vision a reality. I’d also like to express our appreciation to Dale Seuferling and the KU Endowment Association for its leadership as we embark on this important campaign.”
Chancellor Douglas A. Girod sent the message below to all KU faculty and staff today.
Raise the Chant
This past Friday, I joined Kansas Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger to announce Raise the Chant, a $350 million fundraising project focused on football. This visionary project addresses the reality that a competitive football program is important to our university and that our outdated facilities hinder our ability to compete with Big 12 Conference peers. Today I’d like to discuss this exciting effort and why it needs to be one of KU’s institutional priorities.
First and foremost, a competitive football program benefits the entire university. In terms of recruiting new students, football is often the front door for prospective Jayhawks, particularly given our increasingly national recruitment strategy. The truth is, a massive Jayhawk at the 50-yard-line on national TV can help keep KU at the top of mind for students we’re recruiting. Additionally, football keeps KU alumni connected to their alma mater – which often translates to donations and networking opportunities – and produces revenue through merchandising, which benefits the entire institution.
We need to remain a strong member of the Big 12, and football is key to that. Membership in a major conference has enormous benefits – including TV contract revenue, branding and prestige – that strengthen every aspect of KU’s mission. More broadly, being in a major conference is tied to our goal to continue being a strong member of the Association of American Universities.
In recent years, KU has transformed its campuses in a thoughtful, strategic way. Since 2009, we’ve completed $1 billion in construction for new and renovated facilities, including the Health Education Building, Capitol Federal Hall, Self and Oswald Halls, the Spencer Art Museum, Swarthout Recital Hall, and the Central District. At the same time, our Far Above campaign funded 735 new scholarships and fellowships and 53 new professorships. In other words, we’ve begun to modernize our campuses with a focus on our academic mission. We will continue our work in this area, and Memorial Stadium is an important part of the next phase of our transformation.
I want to reiterate my confidence in Sheahon and his vision. While we’ve had challenges in football, Kansas Athletics has had many successes – on and off the field – under Sheahon’s leadership. He’s a man of integrity, and he’s a Jayhawk to the core. Moreover, I share his belief that Coach Beaty has us headed in the right direction. Put simply, I believe we have the right people for the right time. Our focus now is getting these people the right tools to succeed.
I’ve been a Jayhawk for 23 years, and the passion of our friends and donors never ceases to amaze me. I am excited to work with them – and with you! – to advance this transformational project on behalf of our university.
Chancellor Douglas A. Girod sent the message below to all University of Kansas students, faculty and staff today.
Today’s announcement regarding changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status has generated understandable concern within our university community, particularly for those directly affected by this action.
Later today, I will join fellow Association of American Universities leaders in co-signing a letter urging Congress to immediately enact legislation that preserves DACA’s protections. The letter expresses our strong disappointment in the administration’s decision to end DACA, thereby invalidating the legal status of hundreds of thousands of students. We urge Congressional action enabling DACA participants to remain in the United States without fear of deportation.
The University of Kansas is committed to providing equal opportunity for all students. For the past five years, DACA has enabled these young people to pursue education and employment. I believe they represent what is best about America, and it is unfair to penalize them for circumstances outside their control.
We call on Congress to enact a permanent solution that codifies DACA’s protections. We will work with our higher education colleagues to contribute to the policymaking process in the coming weeks.
The university has developed a website with information and resources for DACA students and community members who may be in a position to aid others. Also, please rest assured that today’s announcement does not impact KU policies regarding disclosure of student records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. KU does not release student records without written consent from the student or a lawfully issued subpoena, warrant or judicial order.
Again, today’s announcement prompts understandable concern throughout our university. We remain deeply committed to supporting all our students, and we powerfully embrace the fullness of the diversity they bring to our university.
Chancellor Girod sent the message below to all students, staff, faculty and affiliates on the first day of classes.
I always enjoy the energy that comes with the start of the semester. This year, for the first time, I am experiencing that energy as chancellor — and loving every minute of it. I’m delighted to have all of you back on campus and look forward to the work we’ll do together as a community of scholars.
This year, our semester starts with a rare solar eclipse that peaks today at 1:10 p.m. I hope to see you at our eclipse celebration at the Shenk Sports Complex, and I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn something new about physics and astronomy.
Assuming the sun reappears – and I’m told by our professors it will – we have much to look forward to this year, including the addition of some terrific new leaders. Dr. Robert Simari begins his first semester as the interim executive vice chancellor of the medical center and executive dean of the School of Medicine. Reggie Robinson recently became our interim vice chancellor for public affairs. Jennifer Hamer, our new vice provost for diversity and equity, is already advancing our efforts to become a more welcoming and inclusive university. Chris Brown is our new vice provost for faculty development, and John Colombo is our new interim vice chancellor for research. We also welcome two new deans — L. Paige Fields in the School of Business and Michele Mohr Carney in the School of Social Welfare.
In addition to new leaders, we start the year with some remarkable new facilities. At KU Medical Center, students are training in our new Health Education Building. In Lawrence, undergraduates have moved into Downs Hall, the first building to open as part of our Central District project. The west end of Memorial Drive has undergone a makeover, and we will celebrate the opening of the Earth, Energy & Environment Center later this year.
While looking ahead, we should take a moment to reflect on our successes this past summer. In May, we announced the School of Nursing will open a new location in Salina to attract and educate nurses in rural Kansas. In June, the Legislature passed a budget and tax plan that seems to be a step toward more stable funding. And earlier this month, the National Cancer Institute renewed our Cancer Center’s national designation for five years.
As I said in my July message, KU is in a good place, and now there are opportunities to do more. We will focus on three areas: improving the student experience, expanding our outreach in Kansas, and growing our research enterprise. And we will do this in pursuit of our goals to elevate KU’s national stature, attract the best students and researchers, and improve in every aspect of our mission.
And if that isn’t enough, there are doughnuts. Tomorrow morning, Susan and I will serve doughnuts and coffee in front of the Outlook from 7:30-8:30 a.m. Please come by and say hello.
Welcome back, Jayhawks. It is my honor to be your 18th chancellor, and I look forward to working with you to advance the University of Kansas.