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Archive for Saturday, August 15, 1992

KU EDITION

August 15, 1992

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As Chancellor Gene Budig sees it, two milestones at Kansas University clearly demonstrate how money can make a difference in the quality of higher education.

In May, the state handed KU $18 million to rebuild Hoch Auditorium, a cherished landmark gutted by fire in 1991. Without it, Hoch could have sat empty for years and KU would have been without an important classroom facility.

And in June, KU closed out the most successful fund drive ever at a Kansas college or university. Campaign Kansas raised $262.9 million in five years, a record among Kansas colleges and universities.

"Campaign Kansas does much to place us in a competitive position in the 1990s," Budig said. "Hoch will be on-line within three years, giving us a state-of-the art educational facility."

However, the McCook, Neb., native isn't willing to rest on his laurels.

"Though the campaign has now ended, there will be no cessation of fund-raising activities on Mount Oread," Budig said. "There are too many unmet student needs."

THE KU Endowment Association's goal is to raise $30 million annually to benefit the university.

The 53-year-old Budig came to KU in 1981. And in the past decade, he's overseen a period of expansion and growth. As chancellor, he's responsible for 29,000 students and 10,000 faculty and staff at KU's campuses in Lawrence, Kansas City, Kan., and Wichita.

The university's growth has been accompanied by a need for resources, both public and private.

Campaign Kansas was clear evidence of strong support from the private sector.

And Budig said that the Kansas Legislature provided solid support for KU and the five other state universities during the '92 session, given the state of the economy. But, he said, KU needs more help from the governor and the Legislature.

KU faculty received what amounts to a average of 3 percent raise this year. They were awarded 2.5 percent in July and will get another 1 percent in January. The overall budget for state universities increased 3.6 percent this year.

"ONE HAS to be mindful of the severe limits imposed by the economy," Budig said. "We have to remember that 38 states, at last count, are cutting their appropriations to their public universities. We are fortunate that Kansas is not among those states."

Although these are hard times for U.S. colleges and universities, he said severe problems in other states could allow Kansas to make gains in higher education.

"Kansas has possibly the best opportunity in the history of state higher education for the governor and the Legislature to move KU and other regents' institutions ahead with a minimal investment," Budig said. "We must seize the advantage, not take refuge in the status quo."

The chancellor said universities in other states have been forced to hold the line on faculty salaries or lay off faculty and support staff.

"Now is the time to compete, not retreat," he said. "With more competitive salaries, we cannot only hire the best young faculty, we can recruit proven academics from other universities."

To KU alumni, he issued a call to arms. He said Gov. Joan Finney and the Legislature must be made to understand that KU competes for faculty and staff in a national market.

"THEY MUST understand that we cannot achieve our goals or their goals without more significant salary increases," he said.

For the next fiscal year, the Kansas Board of Regents will ask the 1993 Legislature for a 4.5 percent increase in faculty salaries. Currently, KU's average faculty salary is 88 percent of the average of five "peer" universities.

Budig said the retirement in 1993 of Sen. Wint Winter Jr., R-Lawrence, and Rep. John Solbach, D-Lawrence, will be a blow to KU and the rest of Kansas higher education.

"They were well-informed advocates who influenced the budget process," Budig said. "We have a major educational job ahead of us. We must redouble our efforts to educate members of the Legislature on the needs of KU and other regents universities."

During the past year, Budig said, KU continued to improve its academic reputation. He welcomed the addition of the 3 millionth volume to KU's library.

"WE CONTINUE to be among the top 25 state universities in the association of research libraries," he said.

In 1991-92, KU added more distinguished and teaching professorships through funds generated during Campaign Kansas. There are now 140 at KU, he said.

Budig also noted that KU set a record in the past year by attracting more than $70 million in research funding.

Budig said he was proud of KU's recruitment of minority students.

"Certain procedures recruiting programs, scholarships have been put in place that should help us attract ever-increasing numbers of able-minded students," he said.

As he ponders the future of higher education in the '90s, Budig sees challenges and opportunities.

Budig edited a recently published book on higher education and wrote a concluding chapter on the issues universities will face in the '90s.

He wrote that America's social fabric is increasingly fragile, the federal deficit is a central concern, state economies are in turmoil, and the international scene is undergoing major change. Those are all issues that have an impact on higher education, he wrote.

But higher education, he said, also can play a key role in dealing with those issues.

"The call for leadership at every level of government is growing: leadership of vision, compassion, and commitment,'' he wrote. ``If willing, higher education could play a central role in resolving society's problems. If the energy is present on our campuses, higher education can enhance the efforts of the larger society to meet the challenges of the twenty-first centry.''

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