Archive for Friday, September 16, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Missouri town wants KU to get rid of Jayhawk mascot; Kansas State’s Rhodes scholarship claim a little misleading; prices increase for colleges across the country

September 16, 2011


Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• Oh, Osceola, Mo. Where to begin?

As reported by the Columbia Daily Tribune, the Board of Aldermen in the town of about 850 people decided they ought to pass a resolution. They say that KU ought to drop the name “Jayhawk,” and stop associating itself with “a group of domestic terrorists.”

It harkens back, apparently, to a Civil War-era raid that leveled the town in 1861, led by U.S. Sen. Jim Lane and his band of “Jayhawkers.” The hilarious resolution also calls on residents of the town to stop capitalizing “kansas” and “kU” as “neither is a proper name or a proper place.”

Osceola resident Rick Reed brought the resolution before the board.

“I don’t expect them do anything,” he told the newspaper. “They are so arrogant and uppity.”

And here are some Heard on the Hill mad props to Jill Jess, a KU spokeswoman, who offered this dandy response to the whole mess:

“A Jayhawk is a blue bird with a red head and a big, yellow beak that wears boots. It would be hard to confuse it with anyone with terrorist intent, though we admit we have been terrorizing the Tigers on the basketball court for some time. Tigers have been known to kill people. Bears, too.”

Um, Osceola? If you’re going to start changing mascot names, I can think of a few reasons you might want to start with your high school.

• A tipster (whose name I am reasonably certain is not the “Abraham Lincoln” that was on his email) sent me some stuff yesterday, and mentioned that he was concerned with the way Kansas State University markets itself to potential students.

I said I was largely concerned with KU matters, but he did bring something up that’s always kind of made me scratch my head about Kansas State. So if you’ll forgive me, I’ll go ahead and get this off my chest.

They tout they are “second in the nation among all 500 state universities” since 1986 in Rhodes scholar awardees.

Here it is, in case you don’t believe me.

Kansas State students have won 13 Rhodes scholarships, But here’s the thing, as the Rhodes website points out. Rhodes scholarships aren’t a national competition. Until just a few years ago, your odds of becoming a Rhodes scholar varied from state to state. Your chances in a state like Kansas were much better than your chances in a state with a whole bunch of colleges, like Pennsylvania, for example. So historical national comparisons are a little silly.

In case you’re wondering, KU has had 25 Rhodes scholars, and the university’s typical line in press releases in recent years has been “KU students have received more Rhodes scholarships than at all other Kansas colleges and universities combined.”

However, Kansas State can legitimately claim that it has, since 1986 (when it started winning scholarships at a higher rate), won more scholarships than KU. The purple people are winning in that category, eight to four.

• Colleges across the country are paying more for, well, just about everything, it seems.

The Higher Education Price Index — a kind of inflation rate for colleges — went up this week, to 2.3 percent, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The newspaper reported that utility costs (tied to oil and gas prices) rose sharply, going from minus-9.5 percent last year to 4 percent this year.

The highest-weighted factor, faculty salaries, remained steady.

This is a closely watched figure, and schools use it a lot. The Kansas Board of Regents, for example, is asking for an increase in state funding for schools that corresponds with the rate.

As is frequently the case (and I’m sure university leaders love to remind state legislators of this), the HEPI rose faster than the Consumer Price Index this year.

• The best way to get Heard on the Hill mad props is to submit your tips to


question4u 6 years, 9 months ago

The world would definitely be a different place if advertising were never deceptive, but how would this sound?: KU students have received more Rhodes scholarships than at all other Kansas colleges and universities combined, though fewer than those received by students at the University of Montana (ranked by USNews&World Report as #194 among national universities).

KU and the rest of the Kansas universities and colleges are competing for students, so it's not surprising – though it is unfortunate – that they resort to puffing up distinctions. Ideally, there wouldn't be any duplication of programs at state universities and consequently no competition between them. Anyone who's concerned about waste in higher ed should consider the time and resources used by state universities to denigrate one another.

HonestAbe1981 6 years, 9 months ago

There is nothing wrong with puffing up distinctions in any business - its a competitive marketplace. However, the deceptive marketing tactics that KSU regularly and strategically uses are misleading and unfair to students. KSU's "mistake" of reporting a much lower acceptance rate than they actually had this past year cost them 11 spots in the US NEWS rankings.

KSU fails to, as Paul Harvey would say, tell "the rest of the story". This one example will paint the picture. I've heard KSU staff simply say to students "we have the #1 ranked architectural engineering program in the country". What they fail to mention is that is a ranking they made up after they realized they had the #1 architectural engineering program for a land grant institution without a medical school. Enough said.

You say to consider the time and resources used by state universities to denigrate one another. My response would be consider the time and resources that KSU puts into twisting facts and causing confusion in the marketplace. Its a strategy they have employed for years, and unfortunately, people accept much of what they say as true. I for one, refuse to drink their grape juice.

Kookamooka 6 years, 9 months ago

Sadly, our Boy Scouts have to go to Osceola, MO for their annual camp at Bartle. I hope this doesn't affect their perception of being welcomed.

scarletbhound 6 years, 9 months ago

Question4U makes a good point about universities promoting themselves, often using somewhat deceptive statistics. In light of the previous entry about rising college costs, I wonder how much KU spends to fill out the US News ratings forms. It must cost considerable in staff time etc. while also totally distorting the basic fact that the strength of American higher education is the incredible diversity among the nation's roughly 2,500 colleges. With such variety, numerical ratings are ridiculous. A solid liberal arts school like Baker may be perfect for some students while others want the big KU-style state universities. The key is to match the needs and interest of the student with the right college, not follow some hyped-up ratings game designed primarily to prey on the insecurities of parents and the egos of alumni and to make a lot of money for US News. Unfortunately, KU and most other schools give credibility by participating in what virtually every serious social scientist knows is a bogus survey. The best thing that could happen is for the regents or legislature to deny Kansas schools any funds needed to participate in this sad enterprise. In other words, stop marketing yourselves and focus on education.

StirrrThePot 6 years, 9 months ago

Wow, and that's just in response to the smiling Jayhawk. Just think how unreasonable they'd be if we were still using the 1946 angry Jayhawk? TERRORISTS! ANGRY TERRORISTS!

Nikki May 6 years, 9 months ago

Only in Missouri do you get people mad that we want to be a FREE state this many years later. AND they use an "Indian" as their mascot. Nice. Seriously, you have to wonder. And, the raid on Osceola was after a previous battle and freed 200 slaves (yeah, the nerd took over and I've been reading as much as I could in the hour since I started this reply.) Sounds like a war. Not sorry you lost, Missouri.

Steve Bunch 6 years, 9 months ago

I've never seen a "beak that wears boots." C'mon, University Relations, Jayhawks should know the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses.

dogsandcats 6 years, 9 months ago

But has anyone ever bothered to make the Jayhawk take off his boots and run them through the airport scanner?

bd 6 years, 9 months ago

Oceola is well know for "Oceola Cheese"

Nonsense 6 years, 9 months ago

I will no longer be stopping at Osceola Cheese for cheese and snacks on highway 13.

homechanger 6 years, 9 months ago

osceola a town of about 850 booger eaters.

Nikki May 6 years, 9 months ago

I've actually wondered that as well, but I'm often told that many people don't see it that way. And, many teams are NOT honoring the people. Some teams use stereotypical imagery and things like that.

1983Hawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Someone who worked for the Board of Regents told me about 8 years ago about K Suck's propensity to lie like a g#ddamn rug. They started doing it in the 90s and everyone just sort of ignored it, so they've been systematically cooking statistics, providing misleading conclusions, and intentionally making "mistakes" when surveyed ever since. I'm calling for a full BOR investigation of the K Suck administration and whether they systematically instruct their PR flacks to lie or are just totally incompetent. Either way, it's a fireable offense.

Mark Kostner 6 years, 9 months ago

The KU mascot is the Jayhawk, not a Jayhawker. Our ancestors already addressed this issue. If the mascot was a frontier marauder instead of a bird Osceola might have an issue.

Nikki May 6 years, 9 months ago

They came back when I replied. Never mind.

2002 6 years, 9 months ago

Some things never change; clearly still a town of racists. If the Board of Aldermen are so concerned about past wrongs, how about being concerned about it's slavery supporting past. Maybe they fail to see reality because they head is covered in a white sheet. Do they refer to their head alderman as the grand dragon? That is what I wonder.

As much as we wish racism was gone, it is still alive. Clearly it is alive in Osceola, MO.

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