The Edwards Campus’ gain will be Lawrence’s loss when Kansas University moves its Continuing Education operation to Overland Park.
According to the news release announcing the move, KU Continuing Education has operated from Lawrence for more than 120 years, offering courses, programs and conferences that bring participants to Lawrence or reach across the state and around the world to share KU’s expertise. Each year, the KU release says, KUCE reaches more than 70,000 people through different outreach efforts including law enforcement and firefighter training and lifelong learning programs.
The move, according to David Cook, vice chancellor for the Edwards campus is “to bring the academic and research excellence of KU to an even broader audience in the Kansas City area, across the region and beyond.”
That’s a good goal that perhaps can be better accomplished from a larger metropolitan area, but the KUCE move still will be a big loss for Lawrence. Details of the move are still being worked out, but the shift is scheduled to begin in spring 2014. The Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute will retain its location in Lawrence.
KU also should consider leaving its popular Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Lawrence. The institute, which offers programs focused on people 50 and older, has been a major attraction for local residents, as well as people in locations across the state. KU’s Osher Institute serves the Kansas City metropolitan area and the entire state of Kansas. According to its website, the institute has offered several hundred courses to more than 3,000 registered participants at 25 sites in Kansas and Kansas City since it opened in 2004. The institute offerings are divided into three regions, with central hubs in northeast Kansas, Manhattan and south-central Kansas.
Its outreach to central Kansas is one argument for keeping the Osher Institute in Lawrence. Another is that Osher staff indicate about half of the institute’s members live in Lawrence — and city officials are actively trying to attract more residents in that age group to the community. The current building at 1515 St. Andrews Drive is convenient for students and KU instructors and provides easy parking and access for those participating in Osher programs.
The Osher Institute is designed to attract a different demographic than other Continuing Education programs geared toward training and career advancement, and it seems there’s no real reason its headquarters would have to move to Overland Park.
KU officials may have sound reasons for moving most of the KUCE program to the Edwards campus, but they should seriously consider leaving the Osher headquarters here in Lawrence.