Topeka The chairman of the Board of Regents told Gov. Mike Hayden today that proposed budget cuts for state universities will undermine progress that has been made in the past two years through the Margin of Excellence program.
``The financial gains we've made in (fiscal years) '89 and '90 must not be eroded,'' Norman Jeter told Hayden as the regents formally appealed the recommendations made by Budget Director Michael O'Keefe.
Officials from the Department of Education also pleaded with Hayden to restore proposed cuts in budgets for public schools. Both groups met with him in his office.
``Our top priority is full funding for the Margin of Excellence,'' Jeter said.
The Margin of Excellence is a three-year program to increase faculty salaries and programs at the six state universities. The Legislature partially funded the program two years ago and completely funded the second year in the last legislative session.
O'Keefe has recommended that none of the $17 million for the third year of the program be provided during the fiscal year that begins July 1, 1990.
``If we follow the recommendation, I'm afraid it will be perceived as an abandonment of the program,'' Jeter said. ``It started out as a three-year program, and Kansans finish their programs.''
Jeter underscored benefits he said the state has reaped from the first two years of the Margin. Faculty morale is higher because salaries have been brought in line with comparable schools in other states, he said.
``They feel better about Kansas,'' Jeter told Hayden. ``They feel better about their positions. This isn't limited to faculty. The students like it.''
Jeter said the Margin of Excellence is widely known and popular throughout the state.
``Wherever I go throughout the state of Kansas and talk about education, Margin of Excellence is almost a household word,'' he said.
Regents Executive Director Stanley Koplik also said that Kansas universities are doing a better job retaining both its top faculty members and its top students.
In 1986, for example, about two-thirds of the state's National Merit high school students went out of state to attend college. This year, two-thirds of those students, or about 100, attended Board of Regents schools.
He also said the three major campuses Kansas State University, Wichita State University and Kansas University have embarked on major fund-raising efforts.
``We're here pleading the public side,'' Koplik said. ``Private fund raising is at an all-time high.''