Topeka Two Kansas Board of Regents nominees offered their vision of higher education to a Senate committee reviewing their nominations.
Former Sen. Robert Talkington's confirmation hearing Tuesday for the Kansas Board of Regents was more like a reunion than an inquisition.
"Hey, I've seen you before," Sen. Richard Rock, D-Arkansas City, joked when Talkington entered the Senate Education Committee's meeting room.
Talkington, an Iola attorney who spent 20 years in the Legislature, and Ken Havner, an attorney from Hays, were the first of Gov. Bill Graves' three new appointees to the board to face confirmation hearings.
Sen. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence, said in an interview she would likely vote to confirm both nominees. She's more familiar with Talkington than Havner.
"I think Bob Talkington will be very good," she said. "He's not going to be a yes man to anybody."
The nominees, including William Docking of Arkansas City, either attended or graduated from Kansas University. A hearing for Docking and committee votes on Talkington and Havner will be delayed by KBI background checks.
Senators' questioning of Talkington and Havner was less confrontational than the politically charged cross-examination of Gene Bicknell, who was nominated for the board by then-Gov. Joan Finney, a Democrat.
The Senate rejected Bicknell, a Pittsburg businessman and former Republican governor candidate, who paid a price for endorsing a Democrat for governor against Graves.
Talkington and Havner said they both could live with passage of admission standards for KU and the other Board of Regents' universities. Currently, Kansas is the only state that allows all graduates of accredited state high schools to enter any of its universities.
"My thought at this point ... is it appears we're going to need that, as I said, to maintain a high level of education," Talkington said.
Havner said the state also had an obligation to educate students who didn't meet university academic standards. Community colleges and technical schools are a good option, he said.
"Not everybody ought to be a research scientist," he said. "Some people ought to be a plumber."
Talkington said he would be interested in scrutinizing degree offerings at state universities in an effort to reduce duplication.
"I'm not sure we need every degree program at every college," he said.