Topeka Students at state universities will be required to complete more upper-division courses, but the change won't be as dramatic as originally planned.
The Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday approved a plan to increase the number of junior- and senior-level courses required from 40 to 45. It also requires graduates to earn at least 60 hours of credit from four-year institutions.
The plan was a compromise from a policy regents approved in November that would require 54 hours of upper-division courses.
Faculty and student leaders across the state protested when regents approved the 54-hour requirement last fall. They said the policy would keep some students in school longer and discourage students from taking a variety of entry-level courses.
Under the new policy, universities can exempt some students from the 45-hour rule, and the regents can exempt some university programs from the rule.
Regents also on Thursday discussed the process to replace Kim Wilcox, the board's executive director who leaves in July to become dean of KU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Regent Bill Docking of Arkansas City said the position would be advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education in the next few weeks.
"We hope to do a quick national search," he said, with a new director in place by this fall. But Regent Fred Kerr of Pratt encouraged Kansans to apply for the position.
"This ad is going out nationally, but there is a great pool of talent in the state," he said.
But budget talks dominated much of the regents' discussions Thursday. With the Legislature still without an approved tax-increase package earlier in the day, regents agreed that all universities should bear the resulting cuts equally. The cuts a total of $62.6 million would reduce each university's budget by 7.9 percent.
The cuts, when combined with salary increases and increased insurance costs unfunded in this year's budget, would have totaled $15.5 million at the Kansas University Lawrence campus and another $10.9 million at the KU Medical Center.
Marvin Burris, the regents' vice president for finance and administration, presented a series of statistics to put the cuts into perspective. He said the cuts would equal:
5.2 weeks of furlough per year for each classified employee, or 8.6 weeks for unclassified employees.
830 faculty positions, or 20 percent of the faculty workforce.
A reduction of $893 per full-time student.
An average state tuition increase of 29.2 percent.