Wichita The Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday approved a strategic plan designed to guide decision-making for the state university system until the year 2000.
The plan, called a mission statement, was endorsed by board members and university officials after months of acrimonious debate. The board's meeting was at Wichita State University.
"We not only think this is a good start, but our intention is to take these individual themes and apply them to the campuses," said Regents' Chairman Jack Sampson.
Controversial proposals that would have centralized budget and academic authority in the board's Topeka office were excluded from the compromise.
State Sen. Frank Gaines, D-Augusta, said in an interview Wednesday that university officials may have pressured regents into inappropriately weakening the plan.
"IF THEY'VE watered that thing down, we're just going to tell them to go back to the drawing board," Gaines said.
Gaines said the Senate Ways and Means Committee may hold a hearing on the mission statement plan.
The compromise says regents will press for qualified admissions, improvement of faculty pay and establishment of enrollment ranges for the universities.
The document also addresses administration, academic programs, facilities, equipment, tuition, financial aid and faculty research.
"I think it will work," said Del Shankel, executive vice chancellor at Kansas University. "The document specifies broad directions for each of the univesities."
Del Brinkman, KU vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the mission statement might set the stage for reductions in academic programs.
"It's about program cuts whether they're needed or not," he said. "This will be a tough year."
SHANKEL SAID the document could be used by regents to identify and eliminate academic programs that fall outside a university's mission.
Also during Thursday's meeting, the regents heard a report analyzing how the board and its institutions fared in Gov. Joan Finney's budget recommendations.
Ray Hauke, regents' budget director, said the state general fund increases for all state agencies averaged 1.1 percent while the regents' increase was 3.1 percent.
"That's pretty good," he said. "We have a very good budget, under the circumstances."
Hauke said the regents' budget could be damaged if the Legislature shifts money to mental health and retardation services and public school funding.
Ted Ayers, regents' general counsel and legislative liaison, told the board about the introduction of a House resolution that would encourage establishment of written qualifications for appointees to state agencies, including the Board of Regents.
"I HAVE concern about the Division of Personnel Services writing the qualifications," Ayers said.
If the qualifications are too rigid it would threaten the tradition of appointing lay people to the board, said Stan Koplik, regents' executive director.
In other business, regents granted KU authority to proceed with the issuance of $3.4 million in bonds to finance a second phase in the renovation of the Kansas Union.
Regents also approved a request from Kansas State University to initiate a private fund drive to pay for a $3.6 million football stadium press box and $2.9 million indoor practice facility.