Archive for Friday, November 3, 2006

KU puts worst foot forward for tour

State lawmakers get firsthand look at needed campus repairs

November 3, 2006


Kansas University usually likes to look good for state lawmakers, but administrators Thursday organized a special tour to highlight the school's flaws.

"It's pretty impressive - not in a good way," Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, said.

KU led a group of lawmakers through the basements, up the back staircases and across campus - highlighting the problems that are among the more than $237 million in lingering maintenance needs at KU's Lawrence and medical center campuses.

"What I think people are beginning to realize is that this is a serious problem - something that could result in injury to students or faculty," Chancellor Robert Hemenway said. "We've just been stretched too thin in order to maintain these buildings in the way that they have to be maintained."

The visit was the latest in a series of working lunches and tours at Kansas Board of Regents institutions highlighting a backlog of building maintenance needs estimated at more than $500 million.

The tours, hosted by the regents, are meant to drum up support for the issue.

"I don't know whether this will be the year or not," Hemenway said. "As I look over the last 10 years, there seems to be more attention this year to what the problems really are than in previous years. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to come up with a solution."

Last year the regents proposed a tax increase to deal with the maintenance backlog. That plan didn't go anywhere.

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said it's time to deal with the issue.

"I think that our constituents would be horrified if they knew what was going on and the fact that we weren't taking care of the assets of the state of Kansas any better than we are," he said. "There are creative ways to come up with resources to solve this problem."

In addition to Schmidt and Vratil, Thursday's tour included state lawmakers Sen. Nick Jordan, Sen. Karin Brownlee, Sen. Dennis Wilson, Rep. Kevin Yoder, Rep. Ray Merrick, Rep. Mike Burgess, Sen. Pat Apple, Rep. Jene Vickery, Sen. Marci Francisco, Rep. Paul Davis, Rep. Barbara Ballard and Rep. Joe Humerickhouse. House candidates Tanya Dorf and Rick Davis also participated.


Centrist 11 years, 2 months ago

How about KU and other universities spend their money on maintenance and education of students, instead of over-rated sporting teams and highly-paid coaches.

Just a thought.

tkmoore 11 years, 2 months ago

Hey come over to my house I could use some repair. I would like to spend my money on other stuff too.

ohjayhawk 11 years, 2 months ago

That's pretty much how I remember Malott Hall from when I graduated 11 years ago (and it needed an upgrade then). From the looks of it, not too much has changed for the positive.

newsreader 11 years, 2 months ago

The Univerisity itself spends hardly any money on the sports teams, that money comes from clothing sales, tv contracts and donations. The real problem is that people would rather donate millions to watch a basketball game then millions to see thousands get a better education.

bd 11 years, 2 months ago

what is the def. of defered maintenance???? what is the why it was defered????

bd 11 years, 2 months ago

$1 BILLION endowment! litterally MILLIONS $ in grants!

someone needs to pony up here!

BDub 11 years, 2 months ago

The monies you speak of, bd, are not for use in maintaining buildings - they are for a myriad of other needs. KU is a state institution and it is the state's responsibility to maintain it. The people who need to pony up are you and I, the Kansas taxpayers. We need to provide this support because a strong university system is good for the entire state, its economy, and its people.

Godot 11 years, 2 months ago

They have a lot of nerve to publicize the disrepair of the University in the same edition as the article about building new labs on west campus.

Chancellor Hemenway, please repair what you have already before you build more that you will also fail to maintain.

bd 11 years, 2 months ago

The problem is everytime they (endowment & grants) build new building the maint. dept has to take care of it, do they provide moneys to do that? NO! This is and will always be a problem ! Add new facilities but no additional funding for maint. & housekeeping! Too many people look at just the big picture not the details! We (kansas taxpayers) need to pony up for the right reasons! All I am saying is with all of this "private" money comming in, some could be used for the added costs they incur at the University and taxpayers expense.

guesswho 11 years, 2 months ago

For better or worse, endowment money is almost always restricted, i.e., to a specific department or program, scholarship, or someone wants their name on a building. It isn't a pool of money to be spent however the University wants.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

I think they need to build yet another new building!

If they would like the taxpayers could micromanage the University's budget specifying how much of the taxpayers dollars are spent on maintenance, salaries, and football coaches. Just because they can't manage their current budget we are supposed to raise everyones taxes?

Tony Kisner 11 years, 2 months ago

I hope they included a discussion on limiting Tax payer's ability to attend KU with the use of more selective admissions policy discussed earlier this year.

Actually the less people we have attending school the less we would need to do the repairs, kind of a kill two with one stone type of thing.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

A Economics professor (who shall remain nameless) once told me what a great place KU would be to work if it wasn't for all the students. When I began to laugh he assured me he was serious.

zzgoeb 11 years, 2 months ago

Ok, I'm a rich donor, so I'll give a jillion bucks, ALL for can they hang my name on that? This is part of the problem. When raising funds for a new building, there should be a formula to add a percent for endowed maintenance, and all donors know this up front.

As for the exsisting buildings, we need to take some funds from the general budget for already exists, it just need to be upped annually. Also, the legislature needs to know that once the problem gets too large, it's REALLY expensive to get out of the hole. So, let's can the electioneering and the party rhetoric, and take care of our assets as is needed!

Godot 11 years, 2 months ago

In the past, the interest earned on tuition money KU held in investments and savings accounts was considered part of the Kansas general fund and was part of the total state budget; last year the legislature passed a bill that allows KU to keep that interest money; that is a huge windfall for KU, and a big loss to the Kansas budget. Furthermore, KU will not have to account to the legislature for its spending, period. We taxpayers will give millions and millions of dollars to KU administration to spend, with no accountability.

As a gesture of good faith to the Kansas taxpayers, Chancellor Hemenway should earmark every penny of that interest money windfall for maintaining the crumbling buildings, and match it, penny for penny, with cash from KU's general operating fund. Then he should actually spend it on repairs, every single year.

If he were to do that for a number of years, say, 10 years, at a minimum, demonstrating his commitment to building maintenance, then the legislature should consider additional funding.

oldgoof 11 years, 2 months ago

Godot, the legislature already did what you suggested. The so called "interest" money will be spent on deferred maintenance. General operating money has been and continues to be diverted to support building maintenance issues.

kuthruandthru 11 years, 2 months ago

Deferred maintenance is "deferred" because when the total costs to run the institution are more than the budget, something has to give. Employees tend to yell when they don't get paid, parents yell when the grass gets waist high, and no one seems to come to class when there is no heat/ac. So when you think your electric, gas, or water bills are going up imagine how much that would shock you if there were 100 buildings to pay for.

As for the billion dollar endowment and new buildings, make sure you know where the money is coming from and what it is being used for. A lot of the Endowment money is just that an endowment, which actually funds a large number of scholarships. The billion dollar endowment means that more students can pay for an education. As for the new buildings grants pay for a majority of those costs, which helps KU recruit better faculty and potentially bring in more grants.

In the end we need to make sure we are electing individuals who care about education and will not let KU fall into such disrepair.

The real issue here is that our elected officials have not been funding higher education and now they have to deal with the mess they have created.

Godot 11 years, 2 months ago

With a billion dollar endowment netting a 20% return on investment, one would think that every one of the 25,0000 students should be able to attend KU free of charge.

What say you?

Godot 11 years, 2 months ago

Our elected officials do not owe anything to KU; KU owes back to the citizens of Kansas. Considering that nealry 100% of the students who matriculate from KU leave this fair state, what, exactly, does KU do to improve the future of Kansas taxpayers?

oldgoof 11 years, 2 months ago

my, my, my Godot. You must have overdosed on your hostility pills today. I love your statment of 100% of KU students leaving the state. Better not tell any of the physicians, pharmacists, lawyers, city managers, nurses of the state..... or my entire family. Ha!

not_dolph 11 years, 2 months ago

I'm still here guess that means 99%. What sources are you using to demonstrate a 20% ROI at KUEA? You sure do a lot of assuming...

Alison Roberts 11 years, 2 months ago


Godot, could you please tell me where, exactly, you got that 100% statistic. I can only think of one place you could have pulled it from.

alchemist 11 years, 2 months ago

As someone who has worked in these buildings, especially Malott, it is high time something is done to repair these buildings. And for Godot, the labs on west campus have to be built....there isn't enough space in the current science buildings to house the students and faculty already in these departments, and things are already unsafe due to this crowding. So unless you understand the working conditions in Malott, it's best to keep your comments about the necessity of the new labs to yourself. The renovations to Malott and other buildings along with new labs are necessary to say the least if KU wants to maintain any of its status as a high caliber research institution.

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