Few would question the assertion that the American system of higher education is among the best in the world. One important reason for that leadership is the practice of governing our colleges and universities through trustees or regents. Virtually all American private universities and all of the public universities and colleges in the 50 states come under the direction of trustees. Private citizens who serve as trustees and regents reflect the general will of the people yet provide continuity and institutional stability. They carefully balance the interests of students, faculty, alumni, the business community and political leaders in setting policy and in charting the course for each college and university.
The state of Kansas can be justifiably proud of its Regents institutions. High quality universities are broadly available to the citizens of Kansas. These schools are prudently managed, making careful use of taxpayers dollars. Most important, they provide excellent educational programs for Kansans.
Countries that do not have a trustee system almost invariably find their institutions of higher education falling under the domination of students, faculty, or particular political factions. Under such conditions, it is difficult for those universities and colleges to be effective in teaching, research or public service.
An initiative to amend the education section (Article 6) of the Kansas Constitution will appear as Question 1 on the November ballot. Among other things, this initiative would abolish the Kansas Board of Regents and leave to the governor and the state legislature all policy making responsibility for the Regents institutions. It is only right that the state legislature should set the annual budget for higher education and that the governor should retain veto power over that budget. It is also appropriate that the governor appoints regents. But it would be a grave mistake to abolish the Board of Regents and thereby place university policymaking directly in the world of politics.
I shall vote no on Question 1 and urge others dedicated to the public universities of Kansas to do the same.
H. George Frederickson,
3420 Doral Ct.