To the editor:
Shortly before Bernadette Gray-Little assumed her responsibilities as chancellor at the University of Kansas, she visited me at the Statehouse. At that meeting, Gray-Little, other state leaders and I discussed the need to dramatically increase the number of engineering graduates in our state, in response to an existing and growing industry demand.
Thanks to a comprehensive effort — led by Gray-Little — KU has worked tirelessly to recruit promising high school students to study engineering. Impressive scholarship opportunities have been created along the way for these talented young men and women. These efforts have succeeded to the point where the university now requires added classroom capacity to serve the growing student population in the KU School of Engineering. That is exciting progress for the university and for the state.
I am extremely pleased the Kansas Legislature passed the Kansas Engineering Initiative Act and its companion legislation; they set in motion the KU Phase II expansion plans which will directly help address the need. This legislation will have a significant, positive effect on the Kansas economy.
Leading engineering firms and a number of businesses, including Garmin, Cessna, Agco and other manufacturers, have consistently stated they would prefer to expand in Kansas but cannot unless the state starts producing more engineering graduates. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Gray-Little, KU engineering Dean Stuart Bell and others at KU; John English, dean of engineering at Kansas State University; and Zulma Toro-Ramos, dean of the Wichita State University College of Engineering, we will soon deliver on that goal.