Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2011

University value

A college or university — especially a major university like Kansas University — is a major economic and cultural asset to the city in which it is located.

September 22, 2011


Recent news reports paint a fairly discouraging picture of the Lawrence economy. By one measure, Lawrence’s overall economy grew by one of the slowest rates in the entire country in 2010.

This being the case, consider how fortunate the city is to be home to Kansas University. What would Lawrence be like, what would its economic situation be without the university?

It’s difficult to measure, but the presence of the university with its faculty, students, support staff, university-related activities, maintenance and building expenditures, research dollars, the money left in Lawrence by hundreds of thousands of visitors to KU each year, plus many other sources of money entering the Lawrence economy, all show how important the university is to the welfare of the community.

Consider what a home football game at KU means to the Lawrence economy, particularly in times such as these when many merchants are struggling to stay afloat. Try to figure out how much KU students spend in Lawrence in addition to those expenses tied directly to their schooling at KU.

“University cities” are blessed in many ways, and local residents should be quick to do whatever they can to help and strengthen the university. Kansas cities such as Lawrence, Manhattan, Wichita, Hays, Emporia, Pittsburg, Ottawa, Baldwin City, Topeka and others are fortunate to be the home of a university or college, no matter what its size. These schools are a great stimulus to each community, and the faculty and students at these schools bring vitality and enthusiasm to the host cities.

As noted above, Lawrence residents should be strong, effective and positive spokespeople for the university, and university officials should be aware of the importance of helping the city when possible. It’s a two-way street. One hopes that KU and University of Missouri officials will keep that in mind when it comes time to sign contracts for the location of the annual KU-MU football game.


Bob Forer 6 years, 9 months ago

"A college or university — especially a major university like Kansas University — is a major economic and cultural asset to the city in which it is located."

Wow! No kidding?.

Next editorial: Bears defecate in the woods.

voevoda 6 years, 9 months ago

West Texas is already seeing the effects of climate change.

fu7il3 6 years, 9 months ago

Is this going to be something like Yellow House where these posts show up on random stories?

ThePilgrim 6 years, 9 months ago

Talking about "what would Lawrence be like without KU" is useless idle talk.

I would like to see them advertise "Lawrence - the bedroom community for Topeka".

KU_cynic 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes KU is very important to Lawrence. A blessing and a curse, as Saturday Night Live's Mrs. Loopner might say.

Between KU, USD 497, the city, and county governments government employment -- broadly defined -- accounts for one-quarter of GDP and probably much more than that in indirect spillovers. When KU prospers, the city prospers. But, with state revenues stagnant, funding for KU and USD 497 essentially flat in real terms, KU tuition now pretty much matching that of peer institutions, and the echo baby boom demographics that have pumped up enrollments now fading, how is KU going to expand and grow? And if KU only holds steady or shrinks in terms of economic footprint, then how can Lawrence grow?

The economic model of reliance on government-funded employment has been relied upon for far too long in Lawrence. What this town needs is a meaningful effort at increasing diversity in the economy, not a doubling down on its bets on KU, USD497, and the bureaucrats in city hall that are in the pockets of special interests.

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