It’s unfortunate that economic conditions have caused Kansas University officials to cancel the annual Wheat State Whirlwind Tour, which gives 40 to 50 KU faculty members a first-hand look at various parts of the state.
The tour was started in 1997 and has been a great success.
Far too many faculty members have little knowledge about the state and where their students come from. This also is true of too many administrators who, along with the teachers, tend to believe there really isn’t much to the state west of Topeka.
Most KU teachers are not native Kansans, and they don’t know much about Kansas.
The Wheat State tour let some fortunate faculty members board a luxury bus and spend the better part of a week traveling about 1,000 miles throughout the state. They got a first-hand introduction to feedlots, livestock operations and aircraft manufacturing facilities. They saw the Hutchinson salt mines, the Eisenhower museum and Kansas oilfields and visited with ranchers, farmers and small business owners. Some even have been treated to delicious homemade pecan pies baked by a loyal KU alumna. They saw many of the state’s assets, as well as some of its needs.
University officials apparently think saving $10,000 of state money is more important than taking the tour, at least in current conditions. Another $17,000 was provided by the KU Endowment Association, and Endowment officials evidently also decided they did not want to increase their funding to make up for the loss of state money.
Whatever the case, it is too bad the tour was canceled. More KU faculty members need to know more about the state and more Kansans scattered throughout the state need to meet and visit with more KU teachers and administrators. There is far too much about Kansas and its people that KU faculty members and administrators don’t know, understand and appreciate.
Hopefully, the people who call the shots at KU will recognize the importance of the tour and figure out a way to get the bus back on the road next year.