Topeka Kansas University's wish list: expand the School of Pharmacy, create a School of Public Health and achieve the National Cancer Institute designation.
Those three items and several others were highlighted in a $38 million, five-year proposal that KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway presented Wednesday at a Kansas Board of Regents meeting.
The regents asked university presidents to come up with ideas on how to spend $125 million in possible new state funding and how those plans would generate state revenues. Each university was given a different spending amount. KU's was the highest and the state's technical colleges were the lowest at about $385,000 per school.
"We're expected to perform as a major research engine for the state of Kansas and to provide a modern health care system as well," Hemenway said.
Hemenway cited six counties with no pharmacies and at least 20 with just one pharmacy as a reason for increasing the number of students enrolled in the School of Pharmacy. Under his plan, instead of the current 105, there would be 150 students on the Lawrence campus and 40 in a new program at the KU School of Medicine-Wichita. Hemenway said this expansion would consume about $6 million over five years.
In promoting the creation of a School of Public Health, Hemenway said that Kansas is one of just a handful of Midwestern states without one. At $3 million over five years, Hemenway said a School of Public Health would include hiring 30 new faculty and staff members, including six senior faculty members.
In terms of faculty members, Kansas State University President Jon Wefald proposed adding 45 mid-career faculty to its staff as one of his priorities. He said that since the mid-1980s, K-State has added 10,000 students, but the number of faculty has declined by 19. The regents gave K-State $26 million to work with.
Christine Downey-Schmidt, chairwoman of the regents, said that the pitches from university leaders Wednesday and today were a way for the regents to bring a measure of order to the efforts by the various universities to get new programs funded.
"In the previous system, any university that had a need brought a contingent of faculty, students and alumni to Topeka to make their case to the legislators," she said. "This process that we're trying to develop is a recognition on our part that if we want success, we need to be able to talk about what the state will get in exchange for the dollars they put in."
The $125 million over five years represents a wish list. The legislators have not agreed to provide that much money.
"Even if we get some new money, it's not going to be all we'd hoped for," regent Donna Shank said.
As she examined the list of projects, Downey-Schmidt said in the next month, the regents would have to evaluate the projects and discern priorities for presentation to the Legislature.
She listed the K-12 teaching crisis, which KU hopes to combat with a program known as UKanTeach, and health care as critical areas for the state's future.