A former chancellor of Kansas University was recognized recently for his contribution to education, athletics and the military.
The American Association of Community Colleges gave Gene Budig, who left KU in 1994 to become president of Major League Baseball's American League, its 2008 outstanding alumni award for all the work he's done through the years. Budig graduated from McCook Community College in Nebraska before going to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and receiving bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees there.
"It's a very special award for me because of the importance of community colleges," Budig said Friday from Daytona Beach, Fla. "Community colleges are one of the country's great resources. In truth, half of the new and good jobs in this country's future will require years 13 and 14 of education."
Budig is an advocate for community colleges at the College Board, where he is a senior-level adviser. He said the time he spent at a community college was extraordinarily important in preparing him for the challenges of higher education.
At the same time, he said America doesn't fully appreciate what a gift the community college system is.
"I've worked long and hard and will continue to do so to enhance awareness of the community college system," Budig said. "Nearly half of those enrolled in higher education (in this country) are in community colleges."
Budig said he was able to attend McCook because the newspaper he worked for in Nebraska agreed to cover his tuition and fees to the school.