Posts tagged with Kansas University

KU's guide for a greener campus set to go before Chancellor

On Friday, Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will receive what has been described as a road map in the university's quest to become a more sustainable campus.

For the past year, a group of more than 150 administrators, faculty, staff and students has been working on the university's first Campus Sustainability Plan.

The plan comes with a host of action steps and recommendations that, if followed, will build a more sustainable community over the next 40 years.

"It provides a guide for everyone from the single individual to do more to recycle to departments to adopt more sustainable purchasing practices," said Jeff Severin, who spearheaded the plan as director of the Center for Sustainability.

Gray-Little commissioned the sustainability plan and is eager to see it, said Jack Martin, the deputy director of university communications.

"She'll review it and make decisions going forward from there," Martin said on the next step in the process.

The 56-page plan focuses on nine major areas: administration, built environment, campus grounds, curriculum and research, energy, procurement, student life, transportation and waste reduction. Specific strategies have been developed for each area.

The plan includes more than a dozen steps that should be tackled first. Some of them are:

Use the campus as a living laboratory. The plan suggests course work and research should be geared so students have more opportunities to gather data about systems on campus and to do projects that have an impact on the campus. "It's learning from the campus environment, but at the same time contributing more to sustainable operations," Severin said.

Increase the amount of data being collected on sustainability indicators. The university should identify what needs to be measured and then establish a matrix that can help monitor progress on sustainability projects.

Develop a comprehensive energy management plan that helps the university determine what investments translate into the biggest energy reductions. The plans should include strategies for increasing efficiency, conservation and renewable energy sources.

All new construction or major renovations should meet or exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver criteria, which is part of set of sustainable building standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The plan also urges the university to establish standards for environmentally and socially preferred purchasing practices, expand its recycling program and develop a more efficient fleet of vehicles. Severin sees the plan as a tool his office can use to spur others to do more.

"I think it is a really important step for our office to have this kind of guidance and as a campus to have some unified measurable goals to strive towards," Severin said. "I think it will be a very useful plan moving forward and something we can really learn from."

The final draft of the plan can be downloaded here.

By Christine Metz

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KU Hospital honors three people, two companies as inaugural Hall of Fame members

Five inductees, including former Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway, will form the inaugural class of KU Hospital’s new Hall of Fame.

Other individual honorees are George Farha, chairman of the KU Hospital Authority Board from 1999 to 2008 who advocated for the hospital’s patient-first approach, and Annette Bloch, a philanthropist who has donated $21 million to support cancer and heart patient care.

Hemenway is being honored for his proposal to remove university control from the hospital and allowing it to become an independent public authority.

They join two companies that are being honored for their service to the hospital. The Polsinelli Shughart PC law firm provided the legal foundation for the KU Hospital authority, and United Excel is a general contracting company that has helped shape the hospital’s renovations and new construction projects.

Bob Page, KU Hospital’s CEO, said that KU Hospital hadn’t done as good of a job recognizing its history as the KU Medical Center.

“When you walk the campus, the school has done a wonderful job of recording their history,” he said.

KU Hospital, he said, has two histories, one from its founding until 1998, and another from 1998 onward, when it has thrived after becoming an independent authority.

He said this hall of fame would honor the second period of KU Hospital’s history.

“If we don’t start marking history, we’re missing the opportunity,” he said.

A celebration dinner was scheduled on Tuesday evening to honor the inductees at the InterContinental hotel on the Country Club Plaza.

By Andy Hyland

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KU to confer honorary degrees for first time in university’s history

After getting the go-ahead from the Kansas Board of Regents, Kansas University is beginning a process that would award honorary degrees for what’s believed to be the first time in the school’s history.

Any recipients would be honored as part of the university’s commencement ceremony, and could give speeches there, said Susan Kemper, a KU distinguished professor of psychology who is leading the committee to award the degrees.

“In some years, the chancellor might invite one of the honorary degree recipients to address the graduates,” Kemper said.

She said that could replace the chancellor’s traditional address to graduates in some years, or it could be in addition to it.

“That process is still being resolved,” she said.

Jack Martin, a KU spokesman, said exactly who gives speeches at commencement would be determined on a case-by-case basis. Some years, he said, KU may elect not to award any honorary degrees at all.

Many other universities and colleges, Kemper said, invite recipients of honorary degrees to give commencement speeches. They come from diverse backgrounds, including politicians, musicians and comedians.

At KU, though, think more along the lines of a distinguished politician than a rapper or a comedian, Kemper said.

The university will have the capability to award four honorary degrees: a doctor of laws, science, arts or letters.

“I don’t know why we never gave away honorary degrees,” Kemper said. “I’ve heard different accounts.”

The idea, Kemper said, is to find people who have fundamentally changed their field or the way we view the world.

Kemper is seeking nominations from the KU community. She said that, traditionally, most of the nominations come from faculty, but the committee will — at least initially — consider nominations from students and alumni as well. A nomination form is available online.

She said she hopes to have nominations by Aug. 15. The committee will review the applications and winnow the list to a smaller group for further consideration — perhaps a group of eight to 10 nominees, Kemper said.

From that group, the committee will recommend three to five candidates to the chancellor, who will forward her selections to the Kansas Board of Regents, who have the final say.

Those numbers have some wiggle room, Kemper said. There is no maximum or minimum number of degrees that could be awarded, and they could award more than one from each category, she said.

Though she said Kansas State University is hoping to honor people who have ties to the university or the state, KU isn’t constraining itself to those criteria.

“It’s not necessarily either way,” she said, adding that if extremely distinguished people have connections to the university or the state, they won’t be disqualified because of it. “They might (have those connections), but that’s not why they’re being recognized.”

By Andy Hyland

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Astronaut, KU professor Steve Hawley hopes to see country take new tack on space exploration

As the space shuttle program prepares for its final launch Friday, Kansas University’s own astronaut, Steve Hawley, said he’ll miss the shuttle program.

“I’ve seen it coming for years,” he said. “What’s a little bit different is that what’s next isn’t so clear anymore.”

Commercialized space ventures yield America’s next way of getting into space, said Hawley, who today works as a KU professor of physics and astronomy.

Hawley said he hoped the country would focus on ways to get out of low Earth orbit — something the shuttle couldn’t do — and eventually find ways to go back to the moon or make progress on a mission to Mars.

Still, Hawley, a veteran of five shuttle flights, said the space shuttle leaves a remarkable legacy at the end of its 30-year run.

“It’s not a stretch to say back then, we weren’t even sure it would fly,” he said.

Few people probably recognize how remarkable it is that the shuttle can do what it does with what amounts to technology from the 1970s, Hawley said. NASA never fundamentally redesigned it.

“My Ford has got a better display system than the shuttle,” he said.

He said he worried that the space program would lose visibility and its capacity to generate excitement for children and adults alike. It’s yet to be seen whether Americans launching into space on Russian spacecraft will generate the same focus as a shuttle launch, Hawley said.

And activity in the International Space Station doesn’t seem to get as much attention, he said.

“I don’t know that people know Americans have been in orbit constantly for more than 10 years,” he said.

And NASA will now lack the capability to bring most things back from space — trash, or other instruments, Hawley said.

“There’s nothing that will replace the shuttle,” he said.

By Andy Hyland

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Astronaut, KU professor Steve Hawley hopes to see country take new tack on space exploration

As the space shuttle program prepares for its final launch Friday, Kansas University’s own astronaut, Steve Hawley, said he’ll miss the shuttle program.

“I’ve seen it coming for years,” he said. “What’s a little bit different is that what’s next isn’t so clear anymore.”

Commercialized space ventures yield America’s next way of getting into space, said Hawley, who today works as a KU professor of physics and astronomy.

Hawley said he hoped the country would focus on ways to get out of low Earth orbit — something the shuttle couldn’t do — and eventually find ways to go back to the moon or make progress on a mission to Mars.

Still, Hawley, a veteran of five shuttle flights, said the space shuttle leaves a remarkable legacy at the end of its 30-year run.

“It’s not a stretch to say back then, we weren’t even sure it would fly,” he said.

Few people probably recognize how remarkable it is that the shuttle can do what it does with what amounts to technology from the 1970s, Hawley said. NASA never fundamentally redesigned it.

“My Ford has got a better display system than the shuttle,” he said.

He said he worried that the space program would lose visibility and its capacity to generate excitement for children and adults alike. It’s yet to be seen whether Americans launching into space on Russian spacecraft will generate the same focus as a shuttle launch, Hawley said.

And activity in the International Space Station doesn’t seem to get as much attention, he said.

“I don’t know that people know Americans have been in orbit constantly for more than 10 years,” he said.

And NASA will now lack the capability to bring most things back from space — trash, or other instruments, Hawley said.

“There’s nothing that will replace the shuttle,” he said.

By Andy Hyland

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Twelve young pianists to take part in International Institute for Young Musicians competition at Kansas University

Twelve young pianists from across the world are scheduled to compete in the International Institute for Young Musicians piano competition this weekend at Kansas University.

The IIYM semifinals are set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday at The Commons in Spooner Hall, 1340 Jayhawk Blvd.

Up to six finalists will be chosen to compete in the final round, which is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday at The Commons in Spooner Hall.

Both events are free and open to the public.

The contestants will be competing for $18,000 in cash prizes, which will be given for first, second and third places, along with an audience prize and a finalist prize.

By Andy Hyland

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Twelve young pianists to take part in International Institute for Young Musicians competition at Kansas University

Twelve young pianists from across the world are scheduled to compete in the International Institute for Young Musicians piano competition this weekend at Kansas University.

The IIYM semifinals are set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday at The Commons in Spooner Hall, 1340 Jayhawk Blvd.

Up to six finalists will be chosen to compete in the final round, which is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday at The Commons in Spooner Hall.

Both events are free and open to the public.

The contestants will be competing for $18,000 in cash prizes, which will be given for first, second and third places, along with an audience prize and a finalist prize.

By Andy Hyland

Reply

KU showing effects of prolonged budget squeeze

As Kansas University continues to strain in the face of the realities of state budget cuts, indications of the effects are all over campus.

The school will absorb another 1.193 percent reduction in its state funding for the 2012 fiscal year that begins this month.

Sure, there are the big things. Rodolfo Torres, a KU math professor who will serve as the faculty senate president this year, is quick to mention that faculty and staff have gone three years without salary increases.

“It’s really affecting the morale of the faculty,” he said, and he has heard of some who have left the university for higher-paying jobs.

KU recently approved limited raises as part of a tuition increase.

But KU is seeing all kinds of other signs of scrimping, saving and increased efficiencies all over campus. Here’s a quick look at just some:

• Mark Reiske, associate director of design and construction management, said that the university’s utility budget has been strained at times.

The university designates a set amount of money for utilities each year, he said. Thermostats in classrooms are controlled centrally.

“Those have crept up in cooling seasons and crept down in heating seasons,” he said.

Also, some classrooms that are inefficient to keep cool haven’t been used this summer, he said, including some rooms in the military science building and in Summerfield Hall.

• KU Libraries is one area where budgets have been held stable, said Lorraine Haricombe, the dean of libraries. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t had to make cutbacks. As journal subscription prices have continued to go up, the libraries consulted faculty members to see which journals — both print and electronic — are in the highest demand.

And the libraries just began offering donors an opportunity to sponsor a journal subscription.

“It’s a fairly new idea,” Haricombe said, adding that “a couple” of donors have signed up so far. It’s not a model the libraries can rely on into the future, she said, to ensure that the most relevant journals are produced.

• In KU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the overall number of faculty members has shrunk by 20 since the budget cuts began in 2009, said Danny Anderson, the college’s dean.

The college has tried to avoid using adjunct faculty and graduate students to replace the teaching loads, Anderson said. Some faculty have voluntarily taught overloads, but, in many cases, class sizes are growing and courses are being offered less frequently.

• Matt Cook, an information specialist working in the biology department, said he didn’t know how cuts were affecting the IT department on a grand scale.

But he is seeing signs of decreased staffing levels in his area — the two-man team that works on IT issues for the biology department would soon be shrinking to one-and-a-half, he said, as his co-worker would be splitting time between biology and chemistry.

• In KU’s School of Pharmacy, the school is cutting its continuing education for licensed pharmacists as a cost-saving move, said Ken Audus, KU’s dean of pharmacy.

Many members of the industry offer the training for free, which is not something the school could do, Audus said.

Though he said he has heard complaints, he said the decision helped preserve other things the school was doing.

“That’s not something you want to put on the backs of students,” Audus said.

• Even in places at the university that aren’t seeing budget cuts, that doesn’t mean they’re not looking for ways to save.

At Watkins Community Health Center, student fees and fees for service pay the bills, and they’re holding relatively steady, said Joe Gillespie, Watkins associate director of student health services.

But they’re still moving away from most paper forms to cut back on costs. Student forms such as personal and family health histories must be filled out online now, he said, through the student’s personal online portal. Appointments may also be made online, he said.

l In the office of research and graduate studies, some staff members have left for higher-paying jobs, said Kevin Boatright, communications director for the office.

Some of those have even taken other jobs at KU to obtain a salary raise, he said.

As the move to replace those staff members has been slower, more and more of the administrative work associated with research grants is being passed on to faculty members, he said.

The office is managing well overall, in spite of those challenges, he said.

By Andy Hyland

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$1.2 million estate gift to create scholarships at KU School of Pharmacy

A $1.2 million estate gift for Kansas University will create scholarships at the university’s School of Pharmacy.

The gift is from the estate of William and Virginia Davis.

William Davis graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from KU in 1940 and worked his way up to the corporate ladder to become president of Ayerst Laboratories.

The couple spent their retirement years in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Their son, Stephen Davis, said in a statement that KU was important to his parents, particularly his father.

“He relished his time at KU,” Davis said. “My father credited KU for how his life turned out. If it wasn’t for the university, he wouldn’t have had the education to bring forth all that he accomplished during his lifetime.”

Ken Audus, dean of KU’s pharmacy school, said that the gift was a “wonderful way to secure the future” of the school, which is expanding to a class of 170 students this fall with the addition of 20 new students at an expanded campus in Wichita.

“Certainly, with our expansion, we’re admitting more students, which created a need for more scholarship money,” he said.

Today, the school distributes between $275,000 and $300,000 in scholarship funds, he said. The gift would add $48,000 per year, and the school would contribute another $20,000 or so per year in matching funds, Audus said.

With the new funds, Audus said he expected about 70 percent of the school’s students would receive scholarships in some amount next year.

“It really helps students out,” he said. “It’s a great gift.”

By Andy Hyland

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Middle schoolers descend on KU’s campus to fine-tune musical talent at Midwestern Music Academy

It’s that time of year again when kids descend on the Kansas University campus for educational camps on a wide variety of subjects — everything from engineering to basketball to science.

Over at Murphy Hall, hundreds of middle schoolers kicked off the annual Midwestern Music Academy.

Teens anxiously filled the hallways waiting for their chance to impress a camp instructor during auditions.

“This is the hardest part,” said clarinet instructor Ashley White. “They’ve been practicing all year, and they have to come in and play for a complete stranger.”

Kansas City, Kan., 13-year-old Matt Lindboe had his big chance in front of White, and he felt pretty good about his audition.

“That was one of my best performances,” he said.

For Matt, the camp is chance to have some fun, but also to see where he stacks up against “a lot of the most talented musicians from across the state.”

Parents urged their kids on, hoping they’d soak up music lessons from the accomplished KU musical staff.

Lawrence resident Brian Rosenblum was standing by after his son, 13-year-old Shimon, tried to impress with his percussion skills.

Rosenblum said he hopes the five-day camp makes a lasting impression on Shimon, who already spends a good deal of time practicing at home.

“It’s a really good chance for kids that age to just be in the music school and get more exposure to music,” Rosenblum said.

By Shaun Hittle

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