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Archive for Saturday, January 4, 1992

SATURDAY COLUMN

January 4, 1992

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This is the time of year when New Year's resolutions are made and many people traditionally think about the coming year and what they hope to accomplish in the next 12 months.

This writer has a relatively short list of wishes for 1992 for several local and area entities, and it would be great if only a few of these wishes or dreams could turn into realities by this time next year.

In no particular order of importance or priority, consider the following wishes.

FOR THE City of Lawrence:

A successful effort in attracting new industry and business to the city or county. This would serve as an economic shot in the arm, as well as a psychological boost. New industry and new major businesses would help provide additional jobs, attract retail sales dollars and provide additional tax revenues to help pay for the many services desired by local residents. An announcement by Boeing officials that Lawrence has been selected as the site for the company's new wind tunnel project would be a great way to start off this year.

More rapid movement on development of the Southwest Trafficway. Lawrence's congested traffic situation is a serious detriment and potentially dangerous factor for the city and a heavy handicap for sound expansion of the city.

Increased awareness of the many benefits that would surface by a city-wide effort to make Lawrence "America's Finest University City." This would pay off in many ways, for the "townspeople" as well as those identified with Kansas University. It would mean more full- and part-time jobs, better housing for all ranges of income, increased and improved recreational facilities, better schools, better shopping facilities, and more industry and business that would offer consulting positions to KU faculty, which in turn, would help attract superior teachers and researchers.

FOR KANSAS UNIVERSITY:

Continued stress and emphasis on excellence and high standards. Those universities that excel in the coming years will be those that strive for the best in faculty and in students, rather than view mediocrity as an acceptable level for faculty, students and facilities. KU must remain the "flagship" academic institution not only for the Big Eight Conference but for the entire Middle West.

Continued efforts to implement a "qualified admissions" program for the university, regardless of what others in the state may wish for their particular schools. With limited state funding, qualified admissions offers one of the best methods of maintaining excellence, attracting superior students and faculty and getting the most out of limited fiscal support.

Improved fiscal support from the state. KU enjoys excellent private financial support from alumni and friends, and it deserves adequate state tax support to attract and hold able faculty members and keep the school's physical plant in good shape. Currently, there is great need to replace Hoch Auditorium which, prior to last summer's disastrous fire, provided approximately 7.3 percent of the school's classroom space.

FOR THE LAWRENCE school district:

The ability to provide a stimulating, challenging academic environment for superior students while at the same time providing a sound, well-rounded academic program for those who may not be on such a fast academic track. Also, greater emphasis on programs that will enable those students who choose not to attend a college to be well-prepared to move into well-paying jobs with realistic possibilities for personal and professional advancement. Superior students should not be penalized by a philosophy that it is wrong to recognize and reward excellence and achievement for fear of offending poorer students.

Sound, rational, business-like thinking relative to the future space needs of the school district.

FOR THE STATE of Kansas:

Enlightened leadership, not only in the state's highest political offices and chambers, but also in the business, financial, educational and agricultural arenas. There is great need for strong leadership in the state, for men and women to step forward who command the attention and respect of their fellow citizens. Who are the real leaders of the state today? Who are the men and women who have the talent, leadership qualities, foresight, courage and charisma to merit the respect of the entire state?

FOR KANSAS CITY:

Lawrence and Kansas University are important for Kansas City's growth and development in the increasingly competitive environment for top-flight business and industry, and likewise, Kansas City is important to Lawrence.

Currently there seems to be a serious vacuum of leadership and vision in Kansas City (just as there is in Kansas) and this hurts Lawrence and the university. Granted, such a situation also presents opportunities for Lawrence and KU, but the area needs a strong, vigorous, dynamic major metropolitan center, and currently, Kansas City is not meeting this challenge. Some years ago, Kansas City had a very effective "Prime Time" campaign headed by Donald Hall and Dr. Charles Kimball. This effort attracted nationwide attention, and there were many positive developments for Kansas City and, to a lesser degree, the surrounding area. There may be more forward movement within the city than can be detected from the outside, but at this time Kansas City seems to be drifting, treading water and this is not good for Lawrence or KU.

AS NOTED at the outset of this column, 1992 would be a good year if only a few of these wishes could turn into reality. It should be remembered, however, the first and most important wish and hope is that those living in Lawrence and this part of the country will be blessed with good health and a chance for a meaningful job.

This is something like the argument of which came first the chicken or the egg. Growth and development don't mean much if a person doesn't have good health and a job, but on the other hand, good health care, good living conditions, good nutrition and good jobs come from a forward-looking, growing environment and an enlightened political structure which is eager to promote new jobs, an increased and broadened tax base and better living conditions.

Happy New Year.

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