Kansas Bioscience Authority meeting• KU may seek KBA funds for new initiative to create chemicals
Olathe The president of Kansas State University on Tuesday told members of the Kansas Bioscience Authority’s board that he intends to seek their help in attracting prominent faculty members to Kansas State.
Kansas State in the future will target members of prestigious national academies as part of President Kirk Schulz’s plan for the university to become a top 50 public research university by 2025.
“If we hire well, then these are going to be difference-makers in our state,” Schulz said.
Schulz told the KBA board he hoped to take advantage of the state-sponsored authority’s Eminent Scholars program, which provides funding to universities to hire elite faculty members. On Monday, the board approved a measure that streamlined the approval process for members of the National Academy of Sciences to qualify for the program.
The type of faculty members Schulz said he wants to hire can cost between $6 million and $10 million to bring to the university, including salary, research start-up funds and other costs. He said he wants to hire four to five such faculty members over the next five years, in areas of strength for Kansas State, including animal health, plant pathology and food safety and security.
Schulz said he hoped to attract KBA support in the future as a funding partner, similar to what Kansas University has done with several faculty members who support its KU Cancer Center. KBA financial support would come in addition to the university’s own internal funding, joined with private funds from Kansas State’s endowment, Schulz said.
Kenny Wilk, a KBA board member and member of the Kansas Board of Regents, asked Schulz whether it made more sense to bring in new members of the national academies or to try to grow them in Kansas’ own universities.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little drew a parallel to KU’s cancer effort, saying it can take a long time — many years — to have a faculty member’s research profile grow to the point that he or she gain access to significant funds from the National Institutes of Health.
The nomination of faculty members to the prestigious national academies can only be done by other members of the academies. As Kansas State currently doesn’t have any members, that hampers the university, Schulz said. Presidents of other universities, he said, will often encourage their own faculty members to nominate other people at those same universities.
“It’s a very closed-door, country-club style of process to get people in,” he said, adding that Kansas State doesn’t now have any faculty members who are part of the national academies.
David Vranicar, interim president and CEO of the KBA, asked Kansas State to provide the board with some additional information on the specific areas in which it was looking to recruit faculty so the board could be more prepared for the forthcoming requests for assistance.