The University of Kansas' top official visited Fort Riley on Jan. 9, 2019, in an effort to strengthen the partnership between the institution and post.
Dr. Douglas A. Girod, KU's chancellor, met with Maj. Gen. John S. Kolasheski, 1st Infantry Division commander; Col. Stephen Shrader, Fort Riley garrison commander; Col. Theodore Brown, Irwin Army Community Hospital commander; and other leaders from across the post during his first visit since he became chancellor in 2017.
"We really feel, from a university perspective, that we have multiple missions," Girod said. "Certainly one of those is to support our armed forces and their capacity, obviously, to support us at the end of the day. And so we have a lot of capabilities that we feel would be of benefit to Fort Riley and vice versa."
The University of Kansas, located about 90 miles east of Fort Riley in Lawrence, is the state's largest university with a student population of 28,500. Girod is a head and neck surgeon, joining the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, in 1994, according to information from the university. He served in the Navy Reserve from 1982-1997, retiring as a lieutenant commander.
Fort Riley is an "incredibly impressive operation," Girod said after spending time at IACH and the Mission Training Complex, a sprawling training campus that houses state-of-the-art virtual reality and simulator facilities.
Having driven past Fort Riley for 20 years on I-70, the chancellor said he admired what he saw from the roadway, "but I knew that it was a lot deeper than that and having a chance to see, really, the tip of the iceberg even today … but really understanding the strength and depth and competency is truly remarkable."
Girod said a lot of people probably don't realize the military had an incredible dedication and reliance on education and training.
"Really, there is not another industry in the world that is committed to education and development as the military is," he added.
Whilst visiting with Kolasheski, who gave Girod a rundown of the "Big Red One's" current operations at Fort Riley and across the world, the two leaders talked about everything from research opportunities to the university's recent top-five ranking in the Military Times "Best for Vets" list for four-year colleges.
"Released Oct. 22, the rankings factor in the results of Military Times' annual survey, the most comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military student services and rates of academic achievement," according to information from KU.
Along with helping inform and educate the public about the military and Fort Riley's role, Kolasheski said there were definitely "areas of mutual interest" in which the division and university could collaborate. The general discussed collaborations with instructors who specialize in areas to which Big Red One Soldiers were deploying; internship, thesis, graduate studies opportunities; and cybersecurity cooperation.
The collaborations are natural ones, Girod said later.
"Everything from geological studies to cyber security to unmanned aircraft," Girod said. "We have a lot of crossover from what our expertise is and what the needs and desires are for the fort, so I think we are starting to explore those and I'm really excited about where it can take us."