The 2011 Wheat State Whirlwind Tour will take more than 40 University of Kansas faculty and staff on a five-day, 1,400-mile-plus trek across Kansas, stopping in nearly 30 communities to give participants a new look at the state’s history, economy, geography and culture.

This year’s tour will hit the road Monday, May 23 and wrap up Friday, May 27. The trip will include stops in Barnes, Marysville, Salina, Lucas, Palco, WaKeeney, Quinter, Scotty City, Inman and Wichita, among others.

Now in its 13th year, the tour was started by then-Chancellor Robert Hemenway as a way to take faculty and staff, many new to Kansas, throughout the state to gain a better understanding of where many of their students come from and learn more about the state they serve.

“I had the opportunity to take part in the Wheat State Whirlwind Tour during my first year as chancellor and thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality shown to us at every stop,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “My colleagues and I also learned a great deal about this wonderful state and I know this year’s participants will have a similarly enriching experience.”

Participants in the tour include deans, faculty and staff members from the Lawrence campus, KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., and KU School of Medicine-Wichita. Some of the highlights of this year’s tour include visits to the Landoll Corporation in Marysville, Orphan Train Museum in Concordia, Smoky Hills Wind Farm near Salina, historic African-American settlement in Nicodemus, a ride with the buffalo in Scott County, a tour of Wichita’s Cessna plant and a visit to the Flint Hills ranch of Scott and Carol Ritchie.

Don Steeples, Dean A. McGee Distinguished Professor of Applied Geophysics and tour director, said the annual trip is a valuable way for faculty and staff to get off the beaten path and learn about the state and its many treasures.

“In addition to getting to know Kansas and its people better, the Tour is also is also a way to foster interdisciplinary collaboration amongst our faculty and staff.”

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university’s programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies and are the Title IX coordinators for their respective campuses: Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 West Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS 66045, 785-864-6414, 711 TTY (for the Lawrence, Edwards, Parsons, Yoder, and Topeka campuses); Director, Equal Opportunity Office, Mail Stop 7004, 4330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Fairway, KS 66205, 913-588-8011, 711 TTY (for the Wichita, Salina, and Kansas City, Kansas, medical center campuses).