Archive for Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kansas House Speaker Merrick blasts regents, KU over funding, salary issues

June 25, 2013, 2:23 p.m. Updated June 25, 2013, 2:24 p.m.


— Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick today criticized the Kansas Board of Regents and Kansas University over spending and salaries, including pay raises given to university leaders.

In response, KU spokesman Jack Martin said, "We would welcome Speaker Merrick and his colleagues to visit the university to learn how we’re educating leaders and making discoveries. We’d also like to show them how we are saving money in administrative operations that we then reinvest in teaching and research."

Last week, the regents approved a nearly 14 percent, or $60,000, pay raise for KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

The regents approved raises for all six public university leaders, saying the increases were needed to bring them up to the pay of chief executives at peer institutions.

The raises were all privately financed through the schools' fundraising associations.The increase brought Gray-Little's salary to $492,650. Of that amount, $271,986 is state funded, and $220,664 is privately funded.

Today, Merrick, a Republican from Stilwell, said, "To say we need to bring them up to parity — it's a free market out there. If they want to leave, they leave and somebody else is going to take their place. To say we need to compete with everybody else, I don't buy that."

He also criticized KU for searching for a new vice provost for diversity and equity.

"I see a thing today where KU is replacing a diversity person at a $170-some thousand a year. I'd like to go through and see how many people they have like that on their payroll," he said.

But KU's Martin said Kansas is becoming an increasingly diverse state "and we have a responsibility as the state's flagship university to represent our state."

The regents have been critical of recent cuts to higher education funding by Republican leaders. The board blasted legislators last week, saying that the budget cuts contributed to tuition increases.

KU faces cuts of $13.6 million over two years.

But Merrick shot back at the regents. "I don't think they're doing anything to help their cause. As I stand back to look at things, I think the Board of Regents might be a little complicit in not having any oversight," he said.

The Kansas Board of Regents issued a statement, reiterating the board's earlier request of legislative leaders for budget meetings, which the board said it hoped "will lead to an open and constructive conversation about the challenges and the opportunities facing our state universities, especially in light of the continual decline of state support of higher education."

Merrick also dismissed the idea of having to increase funding to recruit and retain top professors.

"This competing for professors — they don't teach classes anyway. The graduate assistants do the teaching. There are very few professors that sit in the classroom and teach," he said.

But Martin disagreed, saying, "Essentially all of our professors teach, as the thousands of graduates who earned their KU degrees this year can attest. Research enhances teaching and brings Kansas more than $250 million a year, creating jobs and prosperity. That’s a huge return on a shrinking state investment."

Martin added, "Just today we announced that our pharmacy professors who earned NIH grants each brought an average of more than $1 million in research projects to Kansas last year. Their research informs their teaching and is leading to a range of new pharmaceuticals for patients."

Meanwhile, Gov. Sam Brownback said he will continue to fight for what he called stable funding for the universities.

Brownback had called for no cuts to higher education, but he ended up signing the cuts into law when he approved the budget. The cuts total $44 million over two years, about 3 percent per year. Although for some schools, the cuts were deeper. KU Medical Center will see a reduction of more than 8 percent.

"The power of the Legislature is the power of the purse," Brownback said. "At the end of the day that's their constitutional role."


Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years ago

So, let me get this straight. Speaker Merrick does not believe that Kansas's universities need to compete for the best/brightest leaders...and he does not believe that retaining talent is important.

That is not a management philosophy I would want in my company. And, if we really want to "run government like a business" (there's an argument to be had on whether a government should be run like a business, but let's leave that for a more likely opportunity), it's not a management philosophy I want in my government.

Dave Trabert 4 years ago

That's not what the story says.

"Merrick also dismissed the idea of having to increase funding to recruit and retain top professors." He's talking about the necessity of funding increases...not the need to compete.

chootspa 4 years ago

Of course. Thanks for telling him what to think, Dave.

tolawdjk 4 years ago

"Today, Merrick, a Republican from Stilwell, said, "To say we need to bring them up to parity — it's a free market out there. If they want to leave, they leave and somebody else is going to take their place. To say we need to compete with everybody else, I don't buy that.""

NOt quite sure you to logic and reason yourself out of that. Merrick is clearly stating he does not think KU needs to compete. He is saying we will get what the free market gives us, and if it is mediocrity, that is fine with him.

Dave Trabert 4 years ago

I was only pointing out that the reporter said Merrick's comment had to do with increasing funding in order to compete. The post left out that important distinction.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years ago

On the contrary, old friend. tolawdjk quoted the relevant part of the article. Your reply to my post focused the attention away from the relevant part of the article. In the original article, the Speaker's quote was directly in the context of university leader salaries. He said, exactly, "If they want to leave, they leave and somebody else is going to take their place. To say we need to compete with everybody else, I don't buy that." Indeed, in the article's current structure, that comment is still directly related to leadership.

Quote the rest of his comment, too, so that we have the appropriate context. He argues that most professors don't teach. He seems to be arguing that we don't need professors--only graduate students--and they are cheaper than professors, anyway.

The Speaker seems to be sorely out of touch with higher education in this state, sir. Indeed, although he shares some political philosophy with you, he seems to be sorely out of touch with the values and opinions of a good number of residents of this state. I would be loath to defend him too rigorously. Either he does not think well, or he does not have a firm grasp of how policy and governmental activity are interrelated, or he is a loose cannon. None of the three are good options for a political ally, as I see it.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years ago

Dave Trabert wrote "That's not what the story says." Indeed, however, that is exactly what the story says.

Consider these two paragraphs, in exact sequence as the story is currently structured:

"The raises were all privately financed through the schools' fundraising associations.The increase brought Gray-Little's salary to $492,650. Of that amount, $271,986 is state funded, and $220,664 is privately funded.

"Today, Merrick, a Republican from Stilwell, said, 'To say we need to bring them up to parity — it's a free market out there. If they want to leave, they leave and somebody else is going to take their place. To say we need to compete with everybody else, I don't buy that.'"

The quote about top professors takes place later in the story--after the Speaker busts professors' chops for not teaching many classes, anyway.

chootspa 4 years ago

Dave isn't good with context, but he is very good at cherry picking.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years ago

I'm aware of my old friend Mr. Trabert's style of argumentation, chootspa. To be strictly honest with you, my reply here wasn't to defend my point as much as it was to call out the fact that he was (deliberately or otherwise) picking cherries. I won't change his mind, nor am I trying to. However, I may be able to help some other people who may at first glance think that his point made sense to see that it, uh, creatively interprets the article and the Speaker's statements.

chootspa 4 years ago

Keep up the good work. You're doing the readers a service.

lilyspurpleplasticpurse 4 years ago

Koch>Trabert>Merrick. Three degrees of separation.

oldexbeat 4 years ago

sorta like state government -- the new legislature includes the least education, least experienced, least thoughful, etc., members ever. And we pay them. Wow.

Dave, I suggest that we can get cheaper ones. No need to pay them at all.

Left_of_Lawrence 4 years ago

No complaint from Mr. Speaker if private funds help pay for college coaches, but if the same thing is done in academia it is somehow corrupt. Nothing to do with the Regents and University Presidents being critical of your budget. Sure. What do you bet that Mr. Merrick is a member of ALEC?

Chris Crandall 4 years ago

He is, with bells on: Rep. Ray Merrick (R-27), Alec State Chairman Attended 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting ALEC "Legislator of the Year" 2010 Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force member ALEC Board of Directors member


Bob_Keeshan 4 years ago

When you type Jon Wefald into Google the first suggestion is Jon Wefald scandal.

Hey, let's also see if Bernie Madoff and David Wittig are available.

rgh 4 years ago

He needs to run for the position first. Kansas has elected some real losers over the years and been the laughing stock of late night TV. We're finally getting back on track, but the legislature keeps wanting to do their jobs as well. Heck, most don't do their legislative job currently, why would they want to take on the regent's job as well?

rgh 4 years ago

They have to run for the position first and some good education folks don't like the political arena even the regent post brings. Remember, Kansas has been the butt of many late night TV jokes and some legislators who don't even do their own jobs well want the legislature to take over the regents.

Bobby Burch 4 years ago

Merrick is a total moron. His logic collapses on itself time and again. Can't wait for the 2014 elections ...

mdlund0 4 years ago

Is that when you expect the situation to improve? The last elections didn't do much in that regard...

chootspa 4 years ago

I'm shocked, shocked to see this line of attack after I told you it would happen.

Where's the talk about inequitable corporate pay? Where's the quibbling about how the Kochs are spending that massive tax cut?

question4u 4 years ago

"'I see a thing today where KU is replacing a diversity person at a $170-some thousand a year. I'd like to go through and see how many people they have like that on their payroll,' he [Merrick] said."

Wow Mr. Merrick, you could not more clearly have exposed your intellectual failings. You freely admit that only "today" you learned about a diversity position at KU. You also freely admit that you do not know how many "people like that" are on the KU payroll.

If you confess to this ignorance, then how could you have even the slightest idea whether or not a "diversity person" is needed and whether or not the salary is reasonable? Yes, it seems customary in the Kansas Legislature to take action first and then ask questions (if at all), but what sense does that make? When has it ever been smart to draw conclusions first and then look for evidence afterward? That's as backward and illogical as it gets.

A "diversity person" might be the least necessary employee at KU and the salary might be the most inflated in the state. Most people don't know one way or the other, but an intelligent person would find out. To just jump to your conclusions while confessing ignorance is childish. Do your research FIRST. It's a simple rule to follow. You can blast away all you like AFTER you actually have knowledge of something, but doing so before is just a blatant sign of ineptitude.

Is this really what Kansas has come to? Does ignorance really rule? Are there really people who think that someone like Merrick is competent to lead anything?

Dave Trabert 4 years ago

Having heard similar questions raised by university staff on the need for a separate diversity position and related discussions of administrative layers, the issue seems to have as much to do with overall bureaucracy than diversity.

The KU payroll lists 1 Chancellor, 1 Executive Vice Chancellor / Provost, 2 Vice Chancellors, 1 Assistant Vice Chancellor, 4 Associate Vice Chancellors, 1 Senior Vice Provost, 6 Vice Provosts, 6 Assistant Vice Provosts and 3 Associate Vice Provosts. See

chootspa 4 years ago

I'm not a fan of the recent trend in higher education for top heavy administration, but I'd prefer to have the matter resolved by someone who is actually acting in good faith instead of someone who is high on Koch.

oldexbeat 4 years ago

Dave, you should at least include what work the positions do -- one Vice-Chancellor is at KU Med, not at the main campus, etc.

Sorta like the coaches -- a line coach, assistant line coach, defensive coach, assistant defensive coach, an AD, assistant AD, etc., etc.

Does ALEC have a position on the number of football coaches. They are very expensive, you know. Lots of money. Oh, wait, mostly private...duh.

Dave Trabert 4 years ago

The KU Med School has its own pay listing. There is a vice chancellor there but the positions I listed above are all at KU according to the records provided by KDOA. We're showing the positions exactly as given us; no other descriptions were provided.

Greg Cooper 4 years ago

OK, Mr. Trabert, why don't you go on and list the aides, assistants and "helpers" assigned to the governor, and then justify the expense of all of those as opposed to those you list who actually have a hand in policy, education, and economics at the University of Kansas, or any other state school?

It galls me that you have taken it upon yourself to denigrate anything not approved by the Koch consortium,, and then take money to spout nonsense, misdirection, and silliness.

tomatogrower 3 years, 12 months ago

And they should list how many of them are wives of legislators.

Kim Mandle 4 years ago

Merrick needs someone to intervene on his behalf. A man or woman with a fully functioning brain would be a vast improvement.

Centerville 4 years ago

So, what does a 'diversity person' do that's worth $170,000 of taxpayer money? Which is about 30 families' worth of state income taxes.

rgh 4 years ago

Go out and google it and also research how many universities (large and small) have similar positions (most, if not all). Most of the larger universities pay their positions higher than KU does.

Dave Trabert 4 years ago

That doesn't mean that a diversity position is just means that universities spend money on it.

weeslicket 4 years ago

LOL !!

that doesn't mean that a dave trabert is just means that "an organization" spends money on it.

elliottaw 4 years ago

KU has I believe 6 African American professors, they have a huge Diversity problem if you ask me

verity 4 years ago

? ? ? I'm wondering where you got this information.

I can name at least seven right off just in CLAS, probably not all full, tenured professors, but they do teach and some are quite well-known and have won prestigious awards.

I've been trying to search the KU website, but it leaves something to be desired in finding that kind of information.

jimmyjms 4 years ago

Just because you, Dave Trabert, or more correctly, the Koch Brothers, say it isn't needed doesn't meant that it's not.

See how that works?

rgh 4 years ago

Go out and research yourself how many universities and colleges have the same or similar position. I did and it's amazing what a couple of minutes can do to increase your knowledge. Nothing KU (or other Kansas regent universities) is doing sounds unreasonable to me on this aspect.

yourworstnightmare 4 years ago

Q4U stated it perfectly above.

Maybe a "diversity person" is an incredible waste of money and a useless position, but Merrick certainly doesn't know the first thing about the position and what it entails but feels qualified to expound on it.

Chris Crandall 4 years ago

Given that state support is at about 38% of the university budget, your math is quite wrong.

jgkojak 3 years, 12 months ago

1) Recruiting the best and brightest students from diverse backgrounds.
2) Making sure KU keeps itself in order in accepting/rejecting students - you do know that universities get sued for that? 3) Promoting diversity on campus - you do realize a part of going to college is experiencing other students and their culture?

chootspa 4 years ago

The ALEC memo is to make sure "diversity" means more conservative, middle-aged white men in higher ed.

Greg Cooper 3 years, 12 months ago

Please make that "...more conservative, less-qualified, middle-aged white men...". That more realistically exemplifies what the state wants in Kansas education. Otherwise, the pupils might learn something and see the real government for what it is and does rather than what Trabert says it is and does.

Oh. yeah, and I really hate the term "conservative" when applied to the current crop of automatons inhabiting Republican clothes.

rgh 4 years ago

It's never been more clear that Merrick and the right winged republican party is out of touch with reality (not all republicans mind you). To say that KU leadership is an open market and they are free to go elsewhere because someone new will come in is absurd. About 1/2 the salary is not even paid by the state and all our regent universities need the best leadership in the country from KU to Emporia to Fort Hays. It simply continues the sad state of affairs for education in Kansas as whole.

yourworstnightmare 4 years ago

"To say we need to bring them up to parity — it's a free market out there. If they want to leave, they leave and somebody else is going to take their place. To say we need to compete with everybody else, I don't buy that."

Possibly one of the most ignorant things said by a Kansas legislator this year, and that is some stiff competition.

To acknowledge a free market for talented faculty and administrators and then to say that KU doesn't need to compete is all but ensuring that KU is going to lose all of its talent and continue a slide into mediocrity or worse. Wow.

chootspa 4 years ago

Might want to check with your doctor. Memory loss can indicate serious health problems, including dementia. I could name at least half a dozen supremely talented faculty from my time there. I could also name some real jerks, but I imagine that's true of any institution.

justoneperson 4 years ago

Even if your anecdotal story (i.e. personal experience at KU) is true--which is entirely possible as you are generalizing to an entire population of professors based on your n = 1 (i.e. your own, singular, individual experience).

I’m sure the KU faculty is the exact same as it was back in 1979.

I mean really? One case generalized over 30+ years? (And that is the best case scenario where I assume that you are not spewing a load of nonsense…)

Hudson Luce 4 years ago

When I went in the latter half of the 1970s - graduated 1981, all of my classes were taught by full professors, very few of whom were "duds". Some really good ones were: Albert Burgstahler and Gerald Maggiora in Chemistry, for whom I did research; Robert Carlson, William Argersinger, Clark Bricker, Peter Hierl, Chemistry; H. Lewis McKinney, History; Robert Nunley, Geography; Chester Sullivan, English; Henry Fullenwider, German; Karl Stockhammer, Biology. Bernard Williams, whom I've kept in touch with to the present, was the TA for my Western Civ class. I will say that my experience with the Math Department was horrible - and I've heard numerous complaints about it over the past 32 years since I graduated, but overall I got a superior education at KU. I went on to get my PhD in Chemistry in 1987 at U. Florida - and used my notes from Prof. Argersinger's class to tie for second place in the Physical Chemistry qualifiers there.

weeslicket 3 years, 12 months ago

that deserves a tip of the hat, a nod of the head, and handshakes all around.

cowboy 4 years ago

Merrick attended KU , must have not made it as he then went to washburn and got a BA in business. Kansas chair for ALEC. nuff said.

chootspa 4 years ago

He learned that he can get lobbyists to wine and dine him and do all his homework for him by writing all his bills.

Susan Shaw 4 years ago

I had wondered if he even went to college. He doesn't sound like an educated person. I thought he was a dork during the legislative session and this is just more evidence. These are our leaders? Pretty discouraging. I've enjoyed reading everybody's comments, especially Ywn's comment about the stiff competition for the dumbest thing said by a legislator.

fiddleback 4 years ago

Yes, because universities are afterall nothing more than vocational schools, so why have any degrees that don't immediately translate to white-collar desk jobs...congrats on being a perfect example of all the arrogant ignorance that's dragging us all the way back to pre-20th century neofeudalism.

oldexbeat 4 years ago

seems true that you know little about any of these subjects. If you could read, you would note that the 'path' to citizenship (a test you would no doubt fail), takes over 10 years just to apply. Over 13 years if you pass. That after criminal checks, etc., and learning English (at a level you might not know).

jwhoopes2 4 years ago

Note that Speaker Merrick is himself an immigrant, having been born outside the U.S. to a non-U.S. citizen. I wonder if he would have the appropriate citizenship documentation to register to vote under Kobach's new requirements.

oldexbeat 3 years, 12 months ago

I'm going to place a five dollar bet thta Merrick isn't a legal citizen -- I mean mom came down to the States from Canada to get a divorce from his dad -- I'm saying that neither would have taken the citizenship test. So Merrick is an illegal alien to this day and probably doesn't want the 11 million other illegals to get a break. Just saying -- want proof -- did he take the test ? Does he have proof ?

oldexbeat 3 years, 12 months ago

and as regards his adoption -- "If your legal date of birth is after February 27, 1983, you have been made a citizen of the US by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, assuming your immigration met certain requirements. If your legal date of birth is on or before February 27, 1983, you may or may not be a US citizen." Just checking.

Chris Crandall 4 years ago

Yeah, worthless psychology majors, like Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, Nobel laureates Daniel Kahneman and Linda Buck, billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, or NBA MVP Tim Duncan (not to mention all the people providing necessary services in humble careers of service).

chootspa 3 years, 12 months ago

Psychology is a very useful undergrad degree, and having it as a four year can get you a lot of work in business and other fields.

chootspa 3 years, 12 months ago

Just because you're not good at finding work doesn't mean other people share your lack of job skills. It's true that lots of psych majors get the degree with the intention of going on to grad school, but that doesn't mean that the undergrad was worthless or that just having the undergrad degree makes you unemployable. Lots of careers don't require a specific degree, and they're not all in retail.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

There are about 13 states as we speak that have the same mentality as a Koch government demands. Yes much of the funding for these right wing governments comes the same source aka Koch money. This is the same money that unseats traditional old school fiscal conservative republicans.

IF one wants a birds eye view as to what is in the future as a result of ALEC all that is is necessary is to follow the activities in Ohio,Wisconsin,Kansas,Florida etc etc etc. 13 states are following the same agenda. These guidelines are established largely by ALEC which sidesteps open discussion regarding state legislation.

ALEC’s campaigns and model legislation have run the gamut of issues, but all have either protected or promoted a corporate revenue stream, often at the expense of consumers aka taxpayers.

Note many of the draft bills outline the privatization of Social Security, schools, prisons etc etc etc. The Koch Brothers, big tobacco, insurance companies, and the drug industry: all behind the shadowy corporate front group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). On the surface, ALEC is mostly comprised of thousands of state legislators, each paying a nominal fee to attend ALEC retreats and receive model legislation.

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JuanValdez 4 years ago

It is very clear the Republican party in Kansas is against education at every level. It is up o the citizens of Kansas to decide if this is the kind of leadership they what they want for their kids.

Mr. Merric is right about one thing, free market means that the most qualified people at KU do not have to sit here and wath him and his party run the educational system in Kansas into the ground.

Free market also means that gifted young people looking for a high paying jobs and a good quality of life do not have to stay in Kansas and watch him and his party run the state into the ground. There are plenty of opportunities out there for them.

positive 4 years ago

Many of us here knew such a reaction was coming after the poorly timed raise for BGL and then the diversity search. IMO the state universities are great for Kansas and the decreased state support is a mistake. However, it is true that KU does have multiple administrative positions with titles that boggle the mind (Associate Vice Provost of ....). This is not just a matter of marketing. Many of these positions exist to create more work for others so that the Associate Provost of Vice can get a raise. The mistake is to suggest that because of some fat, we should make huge cuts or that a random guy in the coffee shop knows exactly where to cut. The analogy would be suggesting that a fat guy should cut off his legs to lose weight.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years ago

How a bill becomes law in kansas picture below.

John McCoy 4 years ago

Brownback and his Republican minions want to govern Dogpatch, not Kansas.

Bob Burton 4 years ago

Look around you, you KU people. KU does not belive in diversity.

Larry Sturm 4 years ago

Where did Merrick get his education the way it sounds he didn't get any at all. He voted for no funding increase and then complains about using fund that they have access to that should be used for other things.

weeslicket 3 years, 12 months ago

i skipped past a lot of stuff.

questions: how have public, land grant colleges and universities harmed this state or nation? in what ways have we as a people been harmed by investing in learning, understanding, applying, and knowing?

this is not the boosterism i read about in boorstin.

JuanValdez 3 years, 12 months ago

The way the Kansas legislature is behaving KU will soon have to choose between trying to remain a top tier University and being a public University.

jgkojak 3 years, 12 months ago

So let me get this straight...

Republicans are always defending huge CEO salaries, saying they are justified in making as much as they do and you have to pay to have the best.

Why doesn't that apply to Education or everything else?

Does he really believe that we can continue to be an AAU, Top 100 University without paying the best people competitively.

Fire Bill Self, hire some young guy we don't have to pay as much. I'm sure they'll be just as successful???

Merrick is an idiot.

Miles Nease 3 years, 12 months ago

If any KU grad, Republican or Democrat, votes for Merrick, Rhoades or Arpke, they should turn in their diploma.

oldexbeat 3 years, 12 months ago

is Merrick a citizen ? I can't find any information that would indicate that he ever got his US citizenship after being born to in a different country to a non-US citizen. Anyone actually know or has he just 'overlooked' that problem ?

And no, being adopted doesn't solve it for his age group. And no, being in the service didn't solve it. Etc.

We need to demand to see his papers. (like he wanted to see the President's).

Richard Heckler 3 years, 12 months ago

Generally in the real world if executives were busy making decisions based on their personal agendas they would be terminated.

Time for a whole lot of resignations by Monday at 6 A.M. The state of Kansas cannot afford a Koch/Brownback government. It is reckless and way too expensive.

oldexbeat 3 years, 12 months ago

how do you demand that Merrick resign due to non-citizenship ? can the Ks Dem party do something ? Or does a member of his district have to go to court ? I'm really thinking this is an issue to push until proof is given or not. I doubt he is a citizen.

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