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Archive for Friday, January 30, 1998

January 30, 1998

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— Higher education panel gets 'shadow'

A new expert panel knows what evils lurk in higher education reform.

Its name sounds like something dark and sinister -- the Shadow Committee.

But the newly formed panel of experts will actually shed light on past state efforts to reform higher education, Rep. David Adkins, R-Leawood, said Thursday.

Adkins, who chairs the House Select Committee on Higher Education, said the new panel will closely monitor his committee's efforts to draft a proposal to reform higher education governance.

"We specifically asked that they come together to provide us with informed input," Adkins said. "They're essentially going through the same exercises we've gone through and will facilitate discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of the current system."

The Shadow Committee consists of three representatives of the Kansas Board of Regents, three from the State Board of Education and one representing Topeka's Washburn University.

"We are not asking them to draft a plan, we're not asking them to develop a proposal, we are not asking them to take any votes," Adkins said. "We're simply asking of them, as people who have been there and done that, to provide us with their critical thinking on the same issues that we as part-time legislators are struggling with."

Members, so far, are Regent Sidney Warner; Ed Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University; John F. Welsh, regents' director of academic affairs; Floris Jean Hampton, trustee of Dodge City Community College; Tom Burke, president of Kansas City Kansas Community College, and Ken Clouse, director of the Northeast Kansas Area Technical School in Atchison. A member also will be named to represent Washburn.

The Shadow Committee met Thursday at the board of regents office in Topeka and were to meet again today, Adkins said.

"They'll look at the current strengths, weaknesses and opportunities and what Kansans' expectations are about higher education systems," he said.

On Monday, a member of the Shadow Committee will report its findings back to Adkins' panel.

Adkins said his legislative committee will begin working next week on a specific reform proposal.

That proposal will be reviewed and critiqued by the Shadow Committee on Feb. 9.

"We are on schedule to have our initial report by Feb. 10," Adkins said.

Rep. Ed McKechnie, D-Pittsburg, the ranking Democrat on the House select committee, agreed the Shadow Committee was needed.

"It's really a backstop committee," McKechnie said. "It's just to make sure we're looking at the things we should do as we work in this short amount of time."

McKechnie predicted the committee will propose one new leadership board to oversee all of post-high school education and provide increased funding in regents schools.

"The more we meet, the more it becomes clear there is no trust in the current system," he said.

-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is toplikar@ljworld.com.

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