Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway told the local League of Women Voters he recently registered as an Independent, or "unaffiliated," voter.
Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway on Thursday night outlined his support for faculty salaries, student financial aid, KU's peers and community input on KU's master plan during a talk before the local League of Women Voters.
Hemenway also asked about 50 people at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt., for their help in supporting higher education.
"This small state has put together a higher educational system which is the envy of many other states in the union," he said. "As you participate in the political process, I hope you'll help me convince people, people here in Lawrence and in other places -- particularly Topeka -- that higher education in Kansas is a good investment."
He said that unless faculty salaries are raised significantly in the next few years, KU no longer will be able to compete as a major university.
"We need to raise faculty salaries ... 25 percent in the next five year in order to be competitive," he said. "If we're not competitive, the major-league professors will find other major-league universities."
He also said that the University of North Carolina, one of five KU "peer" institutions, should not be dropped from that list, as some have suggested.
UNC has received more funding from its state Legislature than KU in the past several years.
"I think it's kind of silly to ignore that," he said. "We can't just stick our heads in the sand and say that disparity doesn't exist."
He also said cuts in student aid are putting a dent in the economic, social and racial diversity of people that KU is supposed to be serving.
"What I fear happening is students coming not based on what's in their head and what's in their heart ... but what's in their wallet. To me, that goes against Midwestern values," the Nebraska native said.
If all students looked and thought alike, he said, "you would not have a very high-quality university."
On KU's master plan, a draft of which officials unveiled this fall after more than two years of development with no public meetings, Hemenway said, "You can't do master planning unless you have full participation of the community.
"You don't finalize a plan and say, 'Here it is, what do you think about it?'"
Hemenway was not chancellor when much of the work on the master plan draft was done.
Hemenway also told the group that he recently registered as an Independent, or "unaffiliated," voter.
"My party is the Jayhawk Party," he said.