Strategic Plan -Executive Summary

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is the heart of the University of Kansas. We educate the most students, produce the most research and collaborate with nearly every entity at KU. When we excel, our success ripples across the entire university. A strategic plan is crucial to guide our efforts and to focus our priorities in the areas where we can make the biggest difference.

Since the university’s founding, the liberal arts and sciences have played a substantial role in sustaining KU’s reputation as a leading destination for the brightest students and scholars. This plan seeks to build upon and extend our legacy as a dynamic learning and research environment, where we make critical discoveries and educate future leaders.

Our priorities and actions are based on input from a variety of sources, including a College-wide anonymous survey assessing our challenges and strengths, as well as several rounds of an iterative feedback process with key constituencies throughout the College and beyond.

Among the greatest strengths of the College are our people. We have a dedicated base of faculty, staff, alumni and advisory board members whose contributions help us achieve our university’s mission to make discoveries and educate the next generation of scholars and leaders. Our talented and diverse students propel us further, as we seek to challenge and support them in their personal, intellectual and professional development.

We also have an incredible story to tell. We are innovators in research and student success, as demonstrated by the prestigious recognitions bestowed on our faculty, including MacArthur, Guggenheim, Fulbright and Carnegie fellowships, along with the outstanding accomplishments of our students, including Rhodes, Goldwater and Gates Cambridge scholarships.

Our successes to date have not come without challenges. We have steadfastly pushed forward through nearly a decade of economic challenges in our state and declining enrollment in line with national trends in liberal arts and sciences. As a result, faculty and staff are doing more with less every year, heroically so in many cases, to ensure that the College remains successful and productive. In recent surveys, faculty and staff feedback indicated a need to acknowledge stresses and to build trust by ensuring that procedures and policies are clear and fair, that resources are allocated in a manner that is transparent and grounded in our priorities, and that administrative services are accessible and easily navigable. We believe our strategic plan is an important step in meeting these needs and ensuring that the College’s best days are ahead of us.

Our strategic plan seeks to balance our aspirations and our needs. We will focus our energy and efforts on that which matters most to our success, ensuring wherever possible that faculty and staff have support from the College Dean’s Office to minimize additional demands on their time. The goals, strategies and tactics throughout this plan put action to ideas by aligning services, funding and initiatives with our priorities in research, student success, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

We will place research and scholarship as a top priority, with an infrastructure that provides a network of support and opportunity for scholarly development and collaboration. We will foster a culture that celebrates our achievements, but is not boastful, where we promote our work for the purpose of making our discoveries visible and accessible for the benefit of others.

We will provide our students with a wealth of opportunities and support, including flexible and innovative curriculum, exceptional teaching and advising, and diverse hands-on learning experiences. Our students will meet the challenge to grow as individuals while they prepare to thrive in their careers and to make long-term and meaningful contributions to our society.

And, we will constantly seek to ensure that the College is a leader in promoting a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for everyone in our community. We have developed an extensive plan for diversity, equity and inclusion that lays out a clear road map for making improvements. It is referenced throughout this plan, and is available on the College DEI Plan website.

The overarching goal of this plan is to amplify what we do well, by directing efforts and resources toward areas of greatest strength, potential and need. While this plan provides a direction forward, it allows for unique paths for each of our schools, departments, programs and centers. Working together toward the same goals, we can leverage our strengths and solidify our place as a leader among liberal arts and sciences institutions.