Topeka Kansas State University President Jon Wefald on Thursday promised that K-State's proposed campus in Johnson County will not duplicate Kansas University's operations.
In fact, Wefald told the Kansas Board of Regents that he expects K-State and KU to collaborate on fundraising efforts.
"When Jayhawks and Wildcats get together, good things happen," he said.
And he vowed that K-State would not be asking the regents for general state tax dollars to build the research campus, but would rely on a proposed tax increase in Johnson County, increased grants and private donations.
If built, the Kansas State-Olathe Innovation Campus would be just minutes from KU's Edwards Campus in Overland Park and the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.
"We are not interested in duplicating the KU Edwards Campus nor the KU Medical Center," Wefald said.
Wefald said the proposed campus will focus on food safety and animal health.
He envisions the school will have approximately 2,000 students within the next 20 or so years, which is about the same size as today's Edwards Campus.
KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said he was OK with K-State's efforts in what is regarded as KU's service region.
He said many other states have projects from several universities in the same county, and he noted that K-State has pledged it won't duplicate KU offerings.
"It's not uncommon for public universities in a state to be able to be organized in this way," Hemenway said.
Regents members asked several questions about the proposal.
Bill Thornton asked if K-State would ever need general state funds for operating the campus. Wefald said no.
He said he is hopeful that Johnson County voters, possibly in November 2008, will approve a sales tax or property tax increase as part of a research triangle initiative that would dedicate funds to K-State, the Edwards Campus and KUMC.
Wefald said he and Hemenway would probably help generate support for the tax proposal, noting that KU has about 50,000 alumni in Johnson County, and K-State about 25,000.
Regent Gary Sherrer asked what K-State's fallback position would be if voters reject the tax increase.
Wefald said K-State would have to increase efforts to raise private dollars.
Regent Donna Shank also had questions about a proposed board that would oversee distribution of the tax revenues. Wefald said that was "a work in progress."
Sherrer said he appreciated Wefald providing an update on the proposal, but added the regents, as the higher education leaders of the state, had to be kept abreast of developments.
"When projects like this move forward : we need to make sure we are in the loop all the time," he said.