Topeka Twenty representatives of the state university system descended Thursday on the Senate Ways and Means Committee and received encouraging words about the Board of Regents' strategic plan to improve the universities.
The presentation by four regents, Kansas University Chancellor Gene Budig and others convinced at least two skeptics on the committee that the regents' system is moving in the right direction.
"I think the regents are right on track," Sen. Frank Gaines, D-Augusta, said in reference to the regents' new strategy for mission development.
Regents approved the document last week. At that time, Gaines expressed concern that regents had watered down the strategic plan.
"You beefed it up. I thought for a minute you backed off," he said. ". . . The four of you (regents) have done a good job. The chancellor and the presidents have done a good job."
SEN. GUS BOGINA, R-Shawnee, chair of the committee, said parts of the plan address problems that have been raised by legislators for years.
"I recognize comments (in the document) that we made around this table," he said.
Bogina said the regents' system must better control the operations of universities because state funding for higher education will be limited in the future.
Jack Sampson, regents' chairman, told the committee that the regents are committed to improving state universities.
"My colleagues on the Board of Regents join me in saying that in 1992 changes are in order," he said. "This project to institute change must be accomplished and it must be done with resolve, care, thoughtfulness and vision."
THE DOCUMENT lists seven themes and how the regents will address them until the year 2000. They are:
Governance and administration. The board will review how the system and campuses are governed, draft new campus mission statements and consider changes in the budget process.
Academic programs and units. The board and universities will review the process by which degree programs are approved and review all academic programs this year.
Faculty competitiveness. The board will continue its effort to establish "equitable and competitive" faculty salaries.
Undergraduate education. The board will emphasize teaching, work to improve student retention and graduation rates, and advocate qualified admissions.
Graduate education and research. The board will affirm its commitment to research, support graduate programs.
Facilities and equipment. The board will promote cooperative use of facilities and plan for improved coordination in libraries, academic computing and telecommunications.
Tuition and financial aid. Regents will promote a system that provides aid to lower-income students, and work for a reasonable sharing of costs between the state and students.