Archive for Monday, August 4, 2014

Editorial: Regents’ clout

His latest appointments raise questions about what qualifications the governor is seeking for members of the Kansas Board of Regents.

August 4, 2014

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With the three appointments announced Friday, Gov. Sam Brownback completed his revamp of the Kansas Board of Regents. All nine members of the board now are Brownback appointees.

Of the three newest appointees, only one has any statewide prominence. That’s Bill Feuerborn of Garnett, a Democrat who served 18 years in the Kansas Legislature, including service on the House Appropriations and Education Budget committees. He also served four years on the USD 365 school board in Garnett.

The other two appointees — Joseph Bain of Goodland, and Zoe Forrester Newton of Sedan — may be well-known in some parts of the state, but they lack the statewide stature that could be helpful as regents. Both are attorneys in private practice, and neither has significant credentials in higher education. Bain graduated from Fort Hays State University in 2002 and the Kansas University School of Law in 2005. He practiced in the Kansas City area before moving to western Kansas in 2011.

According to news reports, Newton was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and received her bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University in New York and her law degree from Cornell Law School. She ran unsuccessfully, as a Republican, for a district judge position in Sedgwick County in 2012. She started her law practice in Sedan just over a year ago.

In making his announcements Friday, Brownback challenged the new regents to help improve the national rankings of the state’s public universities and said his new appointees will be the right people to raise the profile of the state’s higher education institutions. It will be interesting to see what skills the new appointees bring to that task and how they push the governor’s goal forward.

A key responsibility of the Kansas Board of Regents is to promote and raise the prestige of higher education in Kansas not only in national rankings but also among state legislators and other state leaders who influence funding decisions for those schools. To do that, it helps for the members of the regents to already have some statewide knowledge and clout of their own. Perhaps the two relatively unknown Kansans Brownback appointed as regents will grow into that role, but it’s hard to see them hitting the ground running to sell state leaders on the need to invest in the state’s system of higher education.

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I wonder how much any of the Regents know about what is taking place in some parts of the country in higher education today- online classes, changes in curriculum, reducing the amount of money students have to pay for education after they have left college, and many other areas, as well.

KU seems left behind while these changes are taking place.

As just one example, the New York Times had a major article today about medical education and new directions for action in this field. These are occurring in many of the major medical schools right now in this country. All regents should read these articles very carefully, including all comments (many of which, in this case, are from physicians).

Do any of the regents read the New York Times every day? Did they see this major article, as well as the many comments which followed?

What do they see as their role in higher education, as regents?

How much time do they spend each day looking at the major resources which are now available in this country, as well as changes which are taking place in other parts of the world?

Is being a lawyer especially important if a person is a regent? What about other areas, such as a life spent with liberal arts?

What is their position on education and older people?

I've not seen pictures of most of the regents. Are they diverse, as are the students of today?

What is their background that enables them to become a regent and feel that they can do it successfully? Or is it just another "position" that they can add to their list of "accomplishments"? What do they really want to accomplish during their time as a regent?

We need to have major articles and interviews with each regent.

What are their perspectives? How much do they really know about academia? What is their connection with students, who are experiencing "education" every day they go to school?

Steve King 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Sam stacks the Board. Now he's talking about selecting SC Judges.

Philipp Wannemaker 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Seems Brownie accomplished his goal. The Koch brothers now control the higher education system in Kansas.

Lynn Grant 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Bill Feuerborn is hardly under the Koch control and is a good pick. The others could very well be Koch drinkers as they seem to have little connection to higher ed.

Philipp Wannemaker 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Maybe you're right, but the simple fact that brownie selected him makes him very suspect. The people on Regents board need some experience in education. None of these 3 do.

John Graham 8 months, 3 weeks ago

"Of the three newest appointees, only one has any statewide prominence. That’s Bill Feuerborn of Garnett, a Democrat who served 18 years in the Kansas Legislature, including service on the House Appropriations and Education Budget committees. He also served four years on the USD 365 school board in Garnett."

Bill has some experience with education oversight and education budgeting.

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