To the editor:
We read with interest your dismissal of KU’s salary challenges. (J-W editorial Oct. 9.) While it may seem good to compare KU to institutions that are not members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), these are not KU’s academic peers.
AAU institutions maintain measurably higher levels of scholarship: AAU scholars publish in the most highly ranked journals, and they are among the most highly respected authorities in their fields. Most importantly, their mentorship and teaching of students is unparalleled.
To support AAU membership, KU must be competitive with respect to AAU peers to attract and retain good faculty. That KU faculty pay is 15% below regional AAU average, with unregulated guns in classrooms, means that KU is ripe for faculty poaching.
KU’s excellence in teaching is critical to the state’s economy and demonstrated by the contests students win. Just a month ago, three individual teams took three separate first place awards in three of the biggest high technology competitions in the world. Presidents, vice presidents and division directors of Boeing, Lockheed, General Atomics, Northrop, Textron/Cessna/Beechcraft, Learjet and many others visited and rained down congratulations after the KPR story aired. KU graduates now lead the state’s largest manufacturing industry designing scores of new products bringing more than $7.1 billion and tens of thousands of jobs to Kansas.
So while it may seem neat to build up athletics while tearing down academics, remember: the Kansas economy doesn’t run on football, it depends far more on the brainpower of KU alumni … and the great teachers who launched them.