Topeka State higher education leaders have embarked on an unprecedented effort to try to stop the Legislature from making more budget cuts to schools and lobby for a tax increase.
The message was delivered by the Kansas Board of Regents, the leaders of all 32 institutions, and public university alumni associations that represent more than 400,000 graduates.
“Additional cuts would inflict serious damage to our colleges and universities; new revenue is needed,” said Jill Docking, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents.
Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said, “What we’re joining together to say to policymakers is that the future prosperity of Kansas depends on making needed investments in higher education now.”
Gray-Little and Docking were among 10 higher education leaders who sent an opinion column to media outlets.
The leaders of seven university alumni associations sent a letter to lawmakers.
Sue Shields of Wichita, chair of the KU Alumni Association Board of Directors, was one of those.
“We understand these are challenging times, but only by investing in our state’s universities can we ensure Kansas is ready for the economic recovery. If that requires new revenue, we know our members would support such a move because they believe in the power of higher education to improve lives and grow the economy,” the alumni leaders wrote.
Over the past year, Kansas’ public universities, community colleges and technical colleges have been cut 13 percent, or $106 million. That has resulted in more than 1,000 employees and positions laid off, held vacant or eliminated, and more than 450 academic programs and classes eliminated.
At KU, this has meant $37.3 million in cuts and unfunded mandates, officials said. This has led to reduced course offerings, larger classes and limits on enrollment. This fall, the School of Nursing will have its smallest incoming class in decades because of limits imposed by faculty cuts, school officials said.