Topeka Administrators at Kansas Board of Regents universities won't hesitate to appeal a recommendation from the governor's budget director that the regents' request for next fiscal year be cut, a Kansas University official said today.
Keith Nitcher, KU director of business and fiscal affairs, said he is confident that higher education remains at the top of the governor's and Legislature's list of priorities. KU officials will work diligently to modify the budget recommendation, he said.
"We're going to do our darndest to get the budget," he said. "We believe our position has a lot of merit and that the governor will accept our appeals. We have to believe we have a program that is partly financed and we need to take it to its conclusion."
BUDGET DIRECTOR Michael O'Keefe's recommendations for Fiscal Year 1991 include:
Cutting KU's "general use" budget, which represents most of the state's contribution to the university, $7.2 million below this year's level.
Reducing the regents proposed base faculty salary increase from 5 percent to 2.5 percent with no funding for Margin of Excellence merit pay increases.
Eliminating a request from campuses for funds to pay the mission-related enhancement portion of the Margin of Excellence, such as academic equipment.
Deleting provisions for classified employee cost-of-living increases and base salary improvements for student employees at the university.
Rejecting university requests for enrollment adjustment and fee release funds, which help cover past and future costs related to enrollment increases.
REGENTS CHAIRMAN Norman Jeter, Hays, said Thursday during the board's meeting that regents are aware of the economic forces affecting the recommendation, but promised to appeal the decision to Gov. Mike Hayden at a meeting next week.
"The recommendations from the budget director leaves enormous gaps in attaining levels of adequate funding for our state institutions to remain in the competitive mainstream of the nation's universities and colleges," Jeter said.
Jeter said Kansans have made significant investments in regents institutions over the past two years for the Margin of Excellence program, which is at risk if the present level of recommendations for higher education are not improved.
The Margin of Excellence program is a three-year effort to improve faculty salaries and academic programs. The Legislature approved the first two years of the initiative. Regents are worried the final year won't be financed by the 1990 Legislature.
IN OTHER business, Stanley Koplik, regents executive director, urged board members to strengthen the academic programs of the six state universities by adding to the number of instructional days students are required to be in class.
The number of instructional days at universities has declined over the past 30 years at all but Pittsburg State University, which will have one more instructional day in 1991 than in 1960 154. KU has dropped from 150 days in 1960 to 144 days in 1991.
"We believe the trend is occurring in the wrong direction," Koplik said. "The trend should be halted or even reversed and some of the days restored. The argument is a reasonable approach, particularly in terms of our continued requests for more (state) money."
Regents took no action Thursday on the four alternatives offered by Koplik to increase the number of instructional days. Constituencies on each campus will study the issue and report to regents before considering policy changes in January.
THE REGENTS granted campus officials permission to proceed with planning for 111 major repairs, maintenance and energy conservation projects. The $8 million in funding for the work hasn't been approved, but O'Keefe is confident it will be appropriated.
Under the plan, KU's Lawrence campus would benefit from $2.1 million in improvements, including $800,000 for a new roof on Allen Fieldhouse and $270,000 to replace 6,000 feet of 15,000-volt cable. The KU Medical Center would stand to receive $1.2 million.