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Archive for Saturday, January 31, 2009

About time

The advantages of researchers at Kansas’ two largest universities working cooperatively goes without saying … or maybe not.

January 31, 2009

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There is no doubt that having the state’s two largest universities working together greatly enhances all kinds of research and commercial activities in Kansas.

It seems a bit odd, though, that the top administrators at Kansas State University and Kansas University had to sign a formal agreement this week to work together on obtaining a National Cancer Institute designation for the KU Cancer Center. If such an agreement was necessary, why hadn’t it been signed long ago? And was the memorandum of understanding broad enough to ensure cooperation between the two universities on other research and projects?

All those involved seemed in high spirits when the agreement was signed. KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway called it “an important day,” and KSU President Jon Wefald joked that “When Wildcats and Jayhawks get together, good things happen.”

Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, said the agreement “synergizes” the KU Cancer Center and K-State’s Terry Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research, making it easier for researchers at the two centers to work together on projects.

This is, indeed, a positive development, but one has to wonder why it took the two schools so long to take this step. It is known that KSU leaders did not think the KU administration was as helpful as they had hoped. In fact there were concerns that KU didn’t want to give its full support to the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility at KSU for fear that project would handicap KU’s drive for an NCI Cancer Center designation.

The rivalry between the schools has always been lively, especially in athletic competition. Most people who grew up in Kansas have at least some emotional attachment to one school over the other, but that shouldn’t stand in the way of the two schools working together on projects of importance to the physical and economic health of Kansas and its residents.

Oh, well. Better late than never. The benefits of having the state pull together on projects like the NCI designation for KU and the NBAF at K-State are obvious. Much will depend on the new chancellor and president chosen for KU and KSU, but, hopefully, the agreement signed this week will solidify the kind of cooperation between KU and K-State on these and many other initiatives in the years to come.

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