Archive for Friday, July 20, 2012

Motivation needed

Kansas needs to find effective voices to inspire the state about the value — and needs — of its higher education system.

July 20, 2012


The recent headline in an area newspaper read “Public universities battle for more private funds,” with a secondary headline adding, “KU, MU and KSU also cutting costs, raising tuition, seeking federal research dollars.”

All this is true, but what is not said, or at least isn’t said publicly, is that there are few individuals in higher education who are effective advocates for proper higher education funding.

At least this is the case in Kansas. Where are the leaders in higher education who have the ability to excite, enthuse and motivate their audiences, state legislators, faculty members, taxpayers and potential donors? We have nice people in high positions, but they are not individuals who have the ability to move their listeners to take positive, corrective actions. Likewise, it is unfortunate there isn’t a more positive, motivational message coming from the Kansas Board of Regents to fire up Kansans about the importance of excellence in higher education in the state.

It would be interesting to take a private, anonymous poll asking Kansas University and Kansas State University faculty members whether they believe their leaders are doing an effective job of telling the story of the needs of their respective universities. Are they truly making a difference? Such polls can be telling, as was the poll in which faculty members at the KU medical school offered a “shockingly bad” assessment of the leadership skills of their dean and executive vice chancellor.

If the KU chancellor and/or KSU president are not world champion public speakers able to deliver powerful, effective messages, then the universities or the Board of Regents should find individuals who have those skills and put them to work.

These are tough economic times, and most every tax-supported body claims it needs more money. The percentage of state tax support for higher education is declining year by year with tuition, federal grants and private contributions assuming an increasingly important role. This being the case, there is an even greater need for those in top higher education positions to be able, effective, articulate and inspiring communicators.

Academic qualifications are important, but someone with passion is needed to tell the higher education story and motivate legislators, taxpayers and those who have the ability to provide private funding.


Phillbert 5 years, 10 months ago

If only the newspaper in the hometown of the state's largest university had an "able, effective, articulate and inspiring" editor who advocated for higher education, rather than one who always takes pot shots through inaccurate, ineffective, rambling and discouraging editorials.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 10 months ago

Looks like Mr. Simons still wants to be a Regent. Fat chance!

jayhawk1685 5 years, 10 months ago

There's a desperate lack of logic in this attack on the leaders of KU and KSU. The defunding of higher education by state legislatures is a national trend, not limited to Kansas. No silver-tongued administrator is going to change this; the voters will have to tell their representatives that Higher Ed is a priority.

And, BTW, the preference to look to non-academics to do the job of leading academic institutions (what this article seems to suggest as a "solution") has generated repeated inappropriate decisions that have, on the whole, damaged the reputations of the institutions in question. Think Virginia.

LJW, please be smarter.

dinglesmith 5 years, 10 months ago

Is this a joke? In the hardest economic year I can remember in the middle of the great recession, KU and the other regents institutions convinced the legislature to significantly expand the engineering programs at KU, K-State and WSU. The increased funding will result in 30 new faculty at KU and new facilities that specifically support classroom teaching. This doesn't all come from the state, but the state is a major player in the deal. Get your facts straight before you take pot shots at the Chancellor.

It's quite clear that the editorial staff of this paper does not like the Chancellor and has not since the day she took office. I suspect that is because she does not give Dolph or Baby Dolph the keys to the University as previous chancellors have done. Regardless, KU is in a far better position now than it was three years ago and it is certainly not due to the screed published in the editorial column of the LJW.

independent_rebel 5 years, 10 months ago

I will guarantee you more people across the U.S. A. know about Lawrence, KS than they know of Payson, AZ.

Not that it matters.

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