Archive for Tuesday, January 28, 1992


January 28, 1992


Kansas University professor Michael Gaines is taking a job at Florida's University of Miami, and his reasons don't revolve around warm climate and great football.

"Every area of the university (KU) is underfunded. Instead of state-supported, it's state-aided," said Gaines, professor of systematics and ecology. "Basic support of universities is better there."

Gaines, who has been at KU for 22 years, will become chair of Miami's biology department this fall. Miami pursued him for three years.

"I feel just sick about his leaving. He has contributed so much to the university," said James Muyskens, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at KU.

Gaines plans to retain ties to KU as consultant to KU's $1 million Howard Hughes Scholarship Program. The program is designed to increase the role of women and minorities in science. He's been program director since 1989.

GAINES SAID he expects more faculty to leave KU if no improvements are made in state support for faculty salaries, research programs and operating budgets.

"I think KU will see a lot of this, based on what kind of support KU is getting," Gaines said. "I do love KU, but the support at KU hasn't become better."

Muyskens said: "The support he's talking about goes well beyond what the college or university can provide. It goes to support for all science research in this state."

For several years, Muyskens has warned that inadequate state financing would cause KU's best faculty to defect.

"There is no doubt that Mike is right in saying that others will follow suit," Muyskens said. "We are in a very, very vulnerable spot at the moment."

"THERE ARE at least two other people who are in exactly the same position with job offers. They're concerned about lack of support from the state," he said.

Del Shankel, executive vice chancellor, said the problem of faculty retention might worsen.

"I've been saying for some time that we won't lose a lot of people because of the (employment) situation at universities across the country," Shankel said, "but we will always be vulnerable."

Gaines doesn't blame Muyskens or other KU officials. He points the finger at state government, particularly Gov. Joan Finney.

"There are real problems in the state," he said. "It's true of a lot of states, but I feel there is a lack of concern by the governor. Basically I feel that our governor has been anti-higher education."

GAINES CITES Finney's refusal to seek $18 million in state funds to rebuild Hoch Auditorium as an example of her lack of commitment to properly fund Kansas higher education.

"That sends a signal to a lot of people," Gaines said. "There's not a lot of money available."

Gaines, who earns $67,226 at KU, said the university's salaries are "pretty bad in relation to our peers." He said he will receive a "huge" raise to go to Miami, but declined to specify how much.

KU also lacks the faculty to properly instruct the number of students on campus, he said.

"As director of undergraduate biology, I've noticed that as time goes on there has been an erosion of support. You just get frustrated and worn down," he said.

Muyskens said it also will be expensive to replace Gaines. It can cost $80,000 to $250,000 to equip a new scientist, he said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.