Kansas State University has been named an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, or APLU, for the institution’s strong commitment to economic engagement.
With this national designation, the university joins 60 other public institutions across the country that are improving lives well beyond the confines of their campuses.
Peter Dorhout, vice president for research and lead for the designation process, said economic engagement is an established priority for Kansas State University.
“Our land-grant heritage, established over 150 years ago, entrusted K-State with a leading role in economic engagement,” Dorhout said. “We appreciate APLU recognizing the impact K-State has on our state and region. We also look forward to building on this recent self-assessment process by implementing a growth plan to bolster our status as an economic driver.”
According to Dorhout, the rigorous Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation process helped the university take valuable steps toward achieving the goal of becoming a Top 50 public research university. The university conducted a self-assessment and obtained feedback from internal and external stakeholders to identify accomplishments and strengths as well as possible growth areas. The process also included cataloging more than 300 centers, institutes and programs that affect economic engagement.
Surveys and open forums revealed local engagement, partnerships and commitment to the land-grant mission as central economic engagement strengths of Kansas State University. These strengths are illustrated by:
• Four Feed the Future Labs, an investment of more than $100 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development;
• An economic impact of $882 million generated by the university in Riley, Geary and Pottawatomie counties alone; and
• Research expenditures of $189 million in fiscal year 2015.
Engagement also involves connecting the research enterprise at the university with the needs of industry. In the past few years, Kansas State University has grown its research agreements with industry nearly sixfold and attracted seven companies to the region.
“K-State is committed to engaging large and small businesses to share our new technologies and get them into the hands of Kansans,” Dorhout said. “That’s part of the original land-grant concept — benchtop to bedside or test plot to farm.”
Formulating a growth and improvement plan was also a major component of the designation application process. Both internal and external stakeholders indicated that the university should focus efforts to grow and improve on creating a culture of engagement, communicating a clear point of engagement and being more responsive to external constituents, and connecting teaching and research to 21st-century needs.
“I value our internal and external stakeholders’ input and look forward to working with them to improve K-State and create additional economic prosperity,” said Richard Myers, university president.
“As a land-grant institution, K-State relies on strong partnerships and innovation to enhance quality of life,” Myers said. “This process affirms how vital K-State is to not only our local community, but also to the state, region, nation and world. Receiving this designation allows us to learn best practices from other universities while sharing some of our best practices to ensure higher education continues to be an economic driver.”
The university’s Office of the Vice President for Research will continue to engage internal and external stakeholders as the growth plan is implemented. An executive summary of the designation application, information about the university’s strengths and the improvement plan are available at k-state.edu/research/iep.