Topeka In a brief and unscheduled discussion Wednesday, members of the Kansas Board of Regents put the leaders of the six state universities on notice that they were not happy with what tuition has done in the past few years.
Led by Regent Gary Sherrer, members decided they would in February have a full and frank discussion about "freezing, capping or limiting" future tuition increases. While there seemed to be a general sense that tuition increases were a problem, members, including Jill Docking, Bill Thornton, Dan Lykins and Bill Thornton, indicated that they were willing to leave the process alone for now.
"For the last half decade, our tuition growth, though it varies, has outgrown our CPI each and every year," Sherrer said. "It's outgrown the higher education price index each year. Per capita income by the people who have to pay it, has not dramatically changed."
Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway and Kansas State President Jon Wefald said they were ready to have what they called "a healthy discussion on tuition rates" with the regents.
"We'll need to find out what they want to know, and we'll be prepared for that in 30 days," Wefald said.
Hemenway cited KU's recently implemented guaranteed tuition compact as KU's effort to keep tuition increases down and to a rate students can meet.
"Our intent with the compact was to approach tuition through a different way than we have before," Hemenway said.
Perhaps setting out what could be a theme for the February meeting, Wefald said that higher tuition, while perhaps distasteful, presents citizens of Kansas with an important choice.
"You can either pay for access to mediocrity or you can pay for access to excellence," Wefald said. "We're choosing excellence."