Convocation highlights achievements, focuses on future
Chancellor lauds staff, faculty for high standards under economic hardship
Chancellor Robert Hemenway spoke to faculty and staff during convocation
last week and acknowledged their sacrifices while calling on the Kansas
Legislature to keep its funding promise.
the event Thursday, Sept. 11, the chancellor called the terrorist attacks
in 2001 a “demarcation point” separating more prosperous economic
times from a less secure and uncertain present.
Those world events, he said, have had wide-ranging effects both globally
“We encounter reduced budgets, doubts about foreign policy, fear
for our national security,” he said. “There is anxiety in
the air, and even as we recover from the tragic events of two years ago
today and see the stock market improve and the economy begin to recover,
we know that our world is fragile.”
The chancellor acknowledged the efforts made by faculty and staff to carry
an increased workload brought on by the elimination of positions and by
layoffs. He also detailed how KU salaries compare with those at peer institutions.
“The excellence that you have created can only be sustained if the
people of Kansas and their elected representatives truly want a major
teaching and research university nationally recognized for its academic
achievements,” Hemenway said. “It is our job to convince people
that KU’s quality is a major asset for Kansas, the key to a promising
The chancellor said the state budget decline not only reduced KU’s
budget by $19 million, or 8 percent, but also forced the university to
use tuition increases to preserve access and quality.
Students’ investment, he noted, then was matched by faculty securing
record-breaking amounts of research funding and private donations to KU.
But he warned that the university cannot continue to advance without adequate
state funding indefinitely.
“The partnership seems close to breaking down, especially in the
salary area, because the state has been unable to fulfill the promise
in SB345 that chronically low salaries would be addressed,” he said.
“We must secure public support for the quality that you have created
over the last decade.”
The chancellor used the bulk of his presentation to detail faculty, staff
and student accomplishments, including enrollment statistics, awards and
fellowships, research advancements and university rankings. He also reiterated
his goal of making KU a top 25 public university.
To achieve this, he said, the university staff and faculty will have to
be entrepreneurial, creative and efficient.
“The University of Kansas is a very good university, primarily because
it has an excellent faculty and staff who attract excellent students,
who are being prepared as informed citizens for an educated workforce,”
Hemenway said. “We do all of this within a tradition and a culture
of excellence. KU is the beacon for quality in the Kansas higher education
system, by any measurement, and it is your efforts that make KU a shining