Archive for Wednesday, February 12, 2014

State senator criticizes KU over Guth tweet, Caboni email, tuition and graduation rates

February 12, 2014, 9:39 a.m. Updated February 12, 2014, 10:18 a.m.


Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little speaks with state Sen. Tom Arpke, R-Salina in February. In the center is state Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City.

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little speaks with state Sen. Tom Arpke, R-Salina in February. In the center is state Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City.

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— The head of a subcommittee that is reviewing Kansas University's budget lobbed several pointed criticisms of KU administration during a discussion on Wednesday with KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

State Sen. Tom Arpke, R-Salina, said the anti-NRA tweet by KU professor David Guth was hurting KU in the Legislature and in fundraising efforts.

"I'm personally sorry to see he is still employed at the university," said Arpke, who is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means subcommittee on education.

Arpke said he didn't want to restrict Guth's freedom of speech but that sometimes what people say or write has consequences.

Guth was placed on administrative leave in September after a Twitter post following the shootings that left 13 dead at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Guth wrote: “The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”

The post angered many who thought Guth was wishing death on the children of National Rifle Association members. Guth has since apologized and has said he did not mean that he wanted children to die.

Guth’s leave has since ended, and he’s been put back to work on administrative duties.

State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, a member of the subcommittee, criticized Guth's tweet but said legislators shouldn't hold KU to a different standard than themselves.

"What he did was wrong, absolutely wrong, but I know a lot of our legislators that have also said awful things and they're still employed," Kelly said.

Arpke then criticized an email by Tim Caboni, KU vice chancellor of public affairs, that instructed faculty and staff to speak with the public affairs office before talking to government officials about university business.

"That concerns me greatly," Arpke said. "I think that really reduces the freedom of speech of faculty or any administrative staff people to contact legislators to make sure we are getting the information that we need."

But Gray-Little said that was standard practice and didn't represent a change of policy.

She said if someone from KU is going to represent the school in speaking to a legislator, then that person should inform university administration.

Arpke also criticized KU for recent tuition increases and its low graduation rate relative to peer institutions.

The six-year graduation rate for students who entered KU in the fall of 2006 was 64.1 percent, according to testimony provided by Gray-Little.

That compares with 89 percent at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 75.6 percent at Indiana University and 71 percent at the

University of Missouri-Columbia, which are some of KU's peer institutions.

Arpke also said the bite tuition takes out of an average Kansas family's budget has nearly tripled since 1990.

"That is a very difficult hump to get over," he said, especially if there are two or more children in college at the same time.

But Sen. Kelly said it was unfair to criticize KU and other schools for raising tuition when the Legislature cut KU by $13.5 million last year, and the state's share of total higher education funding has been declining for years.

"We have to be partners with our regents universities," Kelly said. "We can't just put it all on them and say it's your fault, you fix it, without doing our part, and our part is giving them the money to do what we're asking them to do."


Bob Reinsch 4 years, 3 months ago

Interesting. His position on Freedom of Speech seems to be that he's very subjective based on the context. Also, is Mr. Arpke saying anything about the 6 year graduation rates of KSU (56% - 8 percentage points lower than KU - or Koch Industries favorite in-state school, Wichita State (43.4% ? Indeed, KU could certainly be doing better, but it seems the Senator is targeting KU unfairly, which is what one would expect from one of the Koch Brothers and Americans for Prosperity's loyal minions.

Arnie Bunkers 4 years, 3 months ago

Why would one expect the Koch Brothers or this Senator to "target KU unfairly"? They employ more KU grads and with the exception of Koch Arena ( which is more of a community venue) they give more money to KU, than they do to WSU.

Bob Reinsch 4 years, 3 months ago

Arnie - spot the blue county in the red state.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

The Kochs would probably just love it if KU was even more willing to accept their suggestions on how that donation money should be spent, too. I hear they're big fans of Florida these days.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

So he did. I wasn't even aware of that connection before you pointed it out.

Paul R Getto 4 years, 3 months ago

When the Leg sells it and it becomes KOCHU, all will be well.

William Weissbeck 4 years, 3 months ago

News flash - UNC and IU-Bloomington are not KU's peer institutions. The demographics of UNC are different - they probably have a good share of out of state students. And the high school requirements for getting into IU are far different than KU. Both Purdue and IU require AP/Honors track for admission.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia - Why was college so expensive? (((( If my memory serves me well this scam got underway about the same time the BUS/CHENEY home loan fraud commenced.))))

Tuition costs at public and private colleges were, are and have been rising faster than just about anything in American society – health care, energy, even housing. Between 1950 and 1970, sending a kid to a public university cost about four percent of an American family's annual income. Forty years later, in 2010, it accounted for 11 percent. Moody's released statistics showing tuition and fees rising 300 percent versus the Consumer Price Index between 1990 and 2011.

After the mortgage crash of 2008, for instance, many states pushed through deep cuts to their higher-education systems, but all that did was motivate schools to raise tuition prices and seek to recoup lost state subsidies in the form of more federal-loan money. The one thing they didn't do was cut costs.

"College spending has been going up at the same time as prices have been going up," says Kevin Carey of the nonpartisan New America Foundation.

This is why the issue of student-loan interest rates pales in comparison with the larger problem of how anyone can repay such a huge debt – the average student now leaves school owing $27,000 – by entering an economy sluggishly jogging uphill at a fraction of the speed of climbing education costs. "It's the unending, gratuitous, punitive increase in prices that is driving all of this," says Carey.

Bob Zimmerman 4 years, 3 months ago

Wow...they didn't mention that KU's enrollment has been declining since 2008.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

"Arpke said he didn't want to restrict Guth's freedom of speech but that sometimes what people say or write has consequences."

This particular legislator is beyond his boundaries by a longggggggggggggg way.

The NRA has become nothing more than a money laundering PAC for the Right Wing ALEC party the party that which subverted the GOP.

"the Legislature cut KU by $13.5 million last year, and the state's share of total higher education funding has been declining for years." Where is this money going? How is it being spent? Is it being directed towards subsidizing corporate welfare or subsidizing the more than one billion $$$$$$$$ in tax cuts for the Kansas 1%?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

KU keeps painting itself as a university that wants to become a "research university " if the LJW news is accurate. Would this increase cost and decrease student enrollment?

Does that mean moving up to par with schools like University of California—Berkeley, Yale, UCLA, MIT, University of Wisconsin and the University of Texas attract professors who enjoy stellar credential in their fields of study?

How would a University become noted as a research university?

Bob Reinsch 4 years, 3 months ago

In some areas the University of Kansas is already on par if not surpassing all of the schools you've mentioned. Pharmacology, Environmental Sciences, Aerospace Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical & Biomechanical Engineering are all on the rise. How about federally recognized Cancer Research Center? Fact of the matter is, top students want to pursue their undergraduate and graduate studies at schools with professors and programs that are making a difference, and Kansans should be proud of the fact that we're doing that here with public schools. Go back and take a look at that list of schools you just rattled off - do you want to compete with those schools, or do you want to see Kansas' best and brightest write off in-state education because we need to "stay on the porch". Most of the time when those students leave, they don't come back.

Phillip Chappuie 4 years, 3 months ago

We live in a place where legislators call for the President's death, make racially insulting slurs and proclaim shooting people from helicopters as a solution and allow a Secretary of State to run roughshod and marginalize voters. Why should any of them care about a metaphorical comment from a college professor? Maybe the fellows in Topeka need to put on their big boy pants.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

I believe State Sen. Tom Arpke, R-Salina is getting his direction from here.,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_Teachers

I make that assumption based on his logic for reduced funding to higher institutions. The mentality permeates the GOP legislature.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

If you cut funding for KU enough, eventually they're going to have to rely on private donors with strings attached, such as the right to appoint the hiring committee for an economics department. That way you could make sure that only people who agree with your particular political leanings get the post and therefore shape the next generation. Who could possibly have pockets deep enough to do that sort of thing? Who indeed.

Steve Bunch 4 years, 3 months ago

I want to "like" some of these posts, but it might violate the Regents' social media policy.

Bob Smith 4 years, 3 months ago

The role of ALEC in the Permian Extinction has never been fully investigated.

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