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Archive for Saturday, March 21, 2009

Research mission

The research being done at the state’s three largest universities is an important asset for Kansas.

March 21, 2009

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As Kansas legislators zero in on final funding plans for state universities, they should keep in mind the array of student research projects that were on display last week at the Docking State Office Building.

It’s easy for lawmakers to identify with the educational mission of the universities, community colleges and vocational-technical schools under the Kansas Board of Regents, but they shouldn’t forget the important research being done primarily at the state’s three largest universities: Kansas University, Kansas State and Wichita State. Not only does it show the excellence of students at those schools, but it illustrates how university research can fuel economic development in the state.

More than 30 presenters participated in the Sixth Annual Graduate Research Summit, sharing information on a broad range of research. Nearly half of those were KU doctoral students in a variety of fields.

Their research focused on medical issues such as the effect of a high-fat diet on estrogen and insulin levels, the causes of migraine headaches and hearing loss and treatments for cancer. Other students were studying efforts to promote wind energy and measuring emissions from heavy-duty engines burning biodiesel fuels. Legislators may soon be consulting with the KU doctoral student who is evaluating the sedimentation in Kansas reservoirs, a problem that threatens the use of the reservoirs as municipal water sources as well as recreation venues.

Some of the research topics are easier to grasp than others, but many have obvious practical applications that can improve the lives of Kansans. Many also seem to have the potential to inspire business and industrial ventures that could benefit the Kansas economy.

Preparing students to contribute to their communities and participate in the state job market is a strong mission for all of the state’s higher education institutions. Some of those students and the faculty members they work with also hold a special role in advancing knowledge and developing technology that can make Kansas a national leader in certain fields.

Neither mission should be overlooked when legislators are evaluating the contribution the state’s research universities make to the future of Kansas.

Comments

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Too bad Lawrence powers that could never see a nice Vo-Tech campus in Lawrence,Kansas. I hear on radio news and read frequently that education is one industry that continues to survive tough economic times consistently. This includes Vo-Tech institutions. People like to improve themselves even in the areas of the skilled labor market.

Face it while degrees look good in portfolios more college graduates work types of jobs other than their majors in college. Plenty of federal aid and school loans are available to Vo-Tech students as well.

John McGrew told me 22 years ago that KU sees Lawrence through the tough economic times. In essence John was saying students and teaching staff are good for the economy and so is all of that student loan money.

So John why did you not go for more education institutions instead of boom town housing economics which end abruptly and cost Lawrence money?

Education should be the Lawrence industry of choice not over built retail and residential that cost Lawrence taxpayers money. Expand the education industry.

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