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KU outlines significant cuts if Legislature cuts higher education funding


Topeka — Kansas University's National Cancer Institute designation would be at significant risk if budget cuts proposed by House Republican leaders were enacted into law, officials said Wednesday.

The leaders of state higher education institutions briefed the Kansas Board of Regents on the proposed cuts and said they stood with Gov. Sam Brownback who is calling for a continuation of the current level of funding for higher education.

The House has proposed a 4 percent cut to higher education, plus a salary cap, while the Senate has recommended a 2 percent cut. The 4 percent cut and salary cap would total more than $20 million at KU, Gray-Little said.

"If we get the level of cuts that have been proposed in the House it will have a negative effect on our ability to provide the kind of workforce that the state needs," KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said.

Kansas State University President Kirk Schultz called the proposed budget cuts "momentum killers."

But House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, has said the argument that such cuts would hurt "has no merit."

Last year, KU's Cancer Center won NCI designation after several years of effort. The designation will open up more research and clinical trials, but officials said renewal of the designation will be difficult to achieve under the proposed cuts. The salary cap would hinder the center's ability to hire and retain top cancer researchers, KU said.

KU released a list of cuts that would have to be enacted if the House budget gained approval. Those include:

— Reducing by 36 the number of medical students KU admits each year. Three-quarters of the reduction would be in Wichita. The School of Medicine-Salina would close.

— Cutting by 50 the number of nursing students admitted and by 30 the available medical resident positions.

— Elimination of 38 faculty positions on the Lawrence campus. KU said the school would become a "farm team" for universities in other states.

— Risk of losing membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities.

Other regents universities presented similar scenarios of losing faculty, shutting down courses, more crowded classes and losing ground to other states.

"Some of the proposed cuts will set us back a decade in funding," said Regents spokeswoman Mary Jane Stankiewicz.

Several board members said they didn't understand why higher education was being targeted for the bulk of proposed cuts.

Regent Robba Moran said states that are investing in higher education are the ones attracting large corporations. "(University) rankings do matter and rankings don't come with inexpensive faculty," she said.

Regent Fred Logan Jr. said neither the House nor Senate budget proposals are pro-growth, but he added he was confident Brownback will be able to get the Legislature to adopt his budget plan.

Brownback plans to tour next week to rally support for his higher education budget. The Legislature returns for the wrap up session on May 8.

In focusing on higher education, Brownback is also pushing for making the 6.3 percent state sales tax rate permanent. Under current law, the sales tax is supposed to decrease to 5.7 percent on July 1.

Democrats have been critical of Brownback's sales tax plan. “Kansans should not be fooled," said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka. "The sales tax increase will not protect higher education. The governor is using a smoke-and-mirrors strategy to hide the real reason behind the budget cuts – his irresponsible income tax cuts.”


toe 5 years ago

Student cuts seems reasonable. These are just supporting government jobs anyway. The loss of AAU is the result of long term KU problems and nothing to do with funding. The school has raised plenty of money for sports. Perhaps they should have asked Alumni for money to support education and research. Not as flashy and fun.

chootspa 5 years ago

Right. Physician and nursing student interns are just "government jobs." I'm sure the state doesn't need any more of those mooching doctors and nurses.

elliottaw 5 years ago

remember this as your ER visits get much much longer because they will not have the people to help run the hospital and do small routine things that interns normally do

Fatty_McButterpants 5 years ago

The vast majority of the sports teams and their facilities are funded by the KU Athletics Corp., which is an independent, self-funded entity. Why do you think Lew Perkins was hired? His fundraising abilities revolutionized many of the sports programs at KU!

Steve Bunch 5 years ago

All this breast beating about cuts, reduction of students, faculty, and programs sounds like an attempt at coercion. But the legislature doesn't care if these Draconian measures are enacted. In fact, I suspect most legislators would be happy to see it. I wish KU would talk about creating new revenue streams. Sure, some cuts may be required, but I see no sign that KU is exploring ways to generate additional revenue. Again, it seems to be a circle-the-wagons mentality at work.

chootspa 5 years ago

Having those satellite programs is expensive and requires a lot of administrative support, and it's probably not at all coincidental that the legislators most in favor of cutting higher education funding are the ones that represent constituents in that area of the state.

love2fish_ks 5 years ago

A proposed 4% cut is nothing. It is disgusting that KU officials are such cry babies that they resort to threats. The headline should read "KU Threatens to Make Cuts As Painful As Possible". Cuts to physican and nursing programs yet PHD in Womens Studies, PHD in Anthropology, undergrad in Hospitality and Tourism, and Masters in Environmental Studies is left untouched.

voevoda 5 years ago

Why do you assume that PhDs in Womens Studies and Anthropology, and (especially) a Masters in Environmental Studies are a) useless; and b) expensive?

And if you consider a 4% cut to be "nothing," I assume that you have no problem paying 4% of your income extra in taxes. You don't want to? As you put it, "it is disgusting that [some people] are such cry babies."

chootspa 5 years ago

Aww, it needn't be an income tax. Let's just add 4% extra to sales tax. That's nothing, right? ;-)

chootspa 5 years ago

Med school programs are tremendously expensive and require a lot of supervision. Those other degree programs can be taught on the main campus and don't require nearly the administrative overhead.

chootspa 5 years ago

It isn't necessarily duplication. Universities aren't meant to be job training factories. They're meant to teach someone how to think. That makes them far more valuable to an employer (and society) than someone who only knows a narrow range of subject matter. Sometimes that means an architecture major takes an elective in gender studies. Besides, who are you to say what is "non-essential?"

chootspa 5 years ago

I'm showing 138 openings in Kansas right now for psychology graduates on Indeed.com. Perhaps we should admit more of them.

chootspa 5 years ago

Goalpost moving. You claimed it was a useless degree. I showed you it was not. There are also plenty of jobs where a bachelors is required but not in a specific field. There are graduate degrees that pair nicely with an undergrad in psychology, and there are jobs that may not be described as "psychology" but nonetheless having a degree in it would be an asset, such as marketing and human resources change management.

chootspa 5 years ago

I have a degree in something you'd think was even less useful. I got a great job with that degree, because I just had to have a degree in something. In fact, I've had three or four great jobs just based on having a four year degree (in anything) and relevant job experience.

You know, since we're swapping anecdata on whether or not someone can get a job. Sometimes it's not the degree. Sometimes it's the student.

chootspa 5 years ago

If you're now defining "good job" as one where you earn enough to get buildings named after you, there's not a degree in any university that's going to satisfy you.

KU_cynic 5 years ago

Spot on comment. I'm ashamed of KU's Chicken Little response to the the Kansas legislature.

If nurses and other healthcare professionals are in high demand then why in the world would KU threaten to cut back in those degree programs? Why not target a whole bunch of niche little academic fetish programs that do not get students jobs and do not produce research that is impactful beyond a few narrow communities of navel-gazing scholars in the XXX Studies disciplines?

chootspa 5 years ago

Gee - I don't know why KU doesn't just hire you as chancellor. You've obviously got all the answers, and I'm sure you know the exact per-student cost of each major, the cost of the instructors to teach those subjects, the cost of regulations involved in certification, etc.

KU_cynic 5 years ago

Yes, XXX Studies professors and instructors work cheap relative to faculty in nursing, medicine, pharmacy, business, engineering, other professions, the sciences, etc., and the economic prospects of the students these so-called academic discplines produce also are dismal. That's nothing to be proud of. Frankly, KU should get out of the business of offering low-cost low-value degrees, ceding that business to less reputable down-market competitors.

Larry Sturm 5 years ago

Brownback and his legislature don't really care about any kind of education that helps promote business to move to Kansas they just want the rich to go to school.

voevoda 5 years ago

KU is the real world, lawrenceguy40. The people who most suffer if KU is starved are the ordinary people of Kansas--you know, the ones who can't afford the private schools that you claim (falsely) deliver a superior education. And yes, lawrenceguy40, most of the students at KU are Kansans. (If they don't look like Kansans to you from your car, maybe you should stop, park, and talk with them, and stop judging by narrow stereotypes of what Kansans look like.) And as for the foreigners, they become lifelong advocates for Kansas--an important asset in a global world.

The real moochers are the people who benefit from having educated providers of business and professional services and educated customers for their own services, but don't want to pay for them to become educated.

withchild 5 years ago

Nothing about cutting back on the administration or all the associate vice provosts or associate deans or other people at KU who do not teach, do no research, bring no dollars nor recognition to KU. The chancellor should take a cut is salary, rather than probably get an automatic pay raise. There is a lot that could be cut at KU before students and faculty positions. But why cut the contributing people at the expense of the suits and blowhards?

fiddleback 5 years ago

Many if not most of those administrators are also active faculty members, actually.

Mike Edson 5 years ago

KU could stand to have some of their funding cut. They have so many other revenue streams if they would just allocate the funds properly. Imagine if the public school system had access to that kind of money.

yourworstnightmare 5 years ago

Some details of the Chancellor's response to the cuts were omitted in this story.

1) Most of the cuts in medical student admission would be from Wichita, which would go back to being 3rd and 4th year education only.

2) The School of Medicine in Salina would be closed.

If legislators from the hinterlands want cuts, then cuts they will have, to programs in their communities.

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years ago

Wichita and Salina hardly qualify as "hinterlands."

question4u 5 years ago

"I have challenged education leaders to focus their schools on improving student results. It is important that we keep state funding level."

--Sam Brownback

Sorry Sam, you're clearly ignorant. Don't you know that "student cuts seems [sic] reasonable"? You can't argue with logic like that Sam, so don't even try.

Are you totally clueless Sam? Don't you know that "a proposed 4% cut is nothing"? (And since it's nothing, the state won't save anything by cutting it from the budget. It's only "cry babies" in the Legislature who complain about keeping such a nothing amount in the budget.)

Are you on some hallucinogenic drug Sam? Don't you know that "there are private schools that can educate medics and engineers far better than KU"? Those doctors from Stanford, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins are lining up to move to Salina, Colby, and Hays. All those graduates from MIT and Cal Tech are eager to sign on as state engineers in Kansas or work in Wichita so that they can live there. You're downright delusional, Sam, if you don't see that.

Get it together Sam. The posters above are clearly right. After all, they know a lot more about the economy and the impact of universities than you do. They are right to imply that you don't know what you're talking about. Education is dumb, Sam, and you need to understand that.

Phillbert 5 years ago

Sure. And can we put you down for covering the legal bills when the donors sue as a result? And the $18 million when KU loses that lawsuit?

Donors donate money for things they're interested in, not so they can have their money backfill state cuts.

Lawrence Morgan 5 years ago

Contrary to what many people apparently think here, the Salina campus is an excellent idea. It will serve much of the rest of Kansas.

I don't know what irtnog2001 is talking about.

It's very important to expand medical education beyond Wichita and Kansas City/Lawrence!

We do need to give the sack to a number of KU administrators and to the current chancellor, who has done nothing to improve online classes, reduce student loans, and cut out PhDs which are useless. She should not only take a cut in salary, she should quit her job and we should find someone else who knows where education is heading --including free online classes and classes for adults of all ages!!

Boston_Corbett 5 years ago

IRTnog: You should learn before you spout off. The Salina program is a residency training one. It is NOT a medical school. It is very small. it was designed to train docs in a semi-rural setting during residency so that they might more likely want to practice in a rural setting in Kansas. If you measure the program by that objective, it has been wildly successful, in comparison to residency training programs in KC and even Wichita.

Dan Eyler 5 years ago

KU's response is comical. It is so predictable they suggest the sky is falling. If KU decides to drop nursing and medical students so be it. Those students can go somewhere else if KU insists. The single biggest threat to middle class and poor not receiving a higher education is the nonstop increase in college budgets. Every employee at KU watches daily as the school brings on more and more administrators, and the ridiculous pay for the chancellor. We continue to hear we have to pay these high salaries to get the best. We can settle for good. But if we don't cut these college budgets and reduce the cost of education the middle class and poor can simply forget going to college. Leaving college students with $40- 50 thousand in debt for a bachelors degree is ridiculous and the whole higher education industrial complex is an obvious nation wide conspiracy to fleece the taxpayer and legislature of billions, and leaving the nation holding the bag on a trillion dollars of student loan debt.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"KU's response is comical. It is so predictable they suggest the sky is falling."

Indeed-- cut their funding by 4%, and they'll have to make cuts in staff and programming. Pretty predictable.

Dave Trabert 5 years ago

Reductions of administrative costs are noticeably absent in the list of proposed cuts. According to KBOR, KU-Med Center spent $18.4 million in FY 2012 on functions that include "executive management, fiscal operations, general administrative services, logistical services and public relations/development." They also spent $17.5 million on Academic Support. http://data.kansasregents.org/public_doc/reports/databook/2013/Institutional%20Profiles/2%20KUMC.pdf

We (Kansas Policy Institute) just completed a 10-year review of spending, tuition and state aid for the six state-funded universities which includes several options reduce the cost of providing a variety of services and using cash reserve build-ups to avoid tuition increases and service cuts. http://www.kansaspolicy.org/researchcenters/education/studies/104135.aspx

chootspa 5 years ago

Perhaps a ten year study on Dave's compensation packages over time? Sauce for the goose and all that...

chootspa 5 years ago

Again, the intellectual dishonesty from the Koch-sponsored "think" tank representative and ALEC member, Dave Trabert. I'll repeat some of my last unaddressed commentary from the last time you spammed our forum with your sloppy new "study."

The Center for Budget Policy and Priorities disagrees with your figures. Or, more precisely the framing. Granted, it's a shorter time span, but it's better observation of recent trends involving the Great Recession. From 2008-13, they claim that Kansas overall has had a 24.5% cut in state funding, while it has seen an overall 15.4% increase in tuition.

That's adjusted for inflation (ie real dollars), which your figures should be. Serious people tend to talk in real dollars when they're discussing changes in spending over time. Propagandists just list it as a separate item, so the people reading their propaganda reports are more shocked. You're giving us used car salesmen messaging in reverse -trying to make it sound like it's more money than it is.

For instance, your overall calculation lists a 53% change in "per student spending" (a number you just made up by dividing all the figures by FTE) for the combined six universities you studied. In real dollars, my quick math says it's only a 16% difference. Because inflation. Sure, that's a change in spending over time, and it's a point of discussion, but it's not the same shock value you're proposing.

Furthermore, I see "executive management, fiscal operations, general administrative services, logistical services and public relations/development." as exactly the sort of spending areas that would need to increase when the university turns away from state funding sources and relies more on outside support. I don't like it either, but as the state reduces their support for higher education, the taxpayers have less of a say in how it is spent. You, as the representative of the now non taxpaying Kochs should have the least say in the matter of all.

chootspa 5 years ago

Powerful political machines that only support a certain ideology. Oh, the irony of that accusation.

voevoda 5 years ago

So, toe, you just admitted that your attack on KS schools in politically-based. If KS schools propagated your favorite (pseudo-)conservative ideology, you'd be happy to pay as much money as they asked for?

Of course, if the schools really propagated liberal ideology, then KS would be electing liberal Democrats to state offices. So it looks like the evidence is against your contention, toe.

John McCoy 5 years ago

You begin cutting any level of education, particularly a flagship university, you are cutting your own throat. That AAU membership is a big deal with industry looking to relocate. Create intellect, not stupidity. The celebrated Tea Party is supposed to be all about reasonable allocation, not fostering ignorance. One can, you know, be so conservative as to be self-destructive. Bleeding Kansas.

volunteer 5 years ago

If cuts have to be made, I think I would look at the Diversity expenditures. But I am no expert in college finances, for sure.

Mike1949 5 years ago

I'm not happy the sales tax is staying at 6.3%. Kansas is getting ripped off! If that isn't a tax increase, I don't know what one is!

LoveAndBasketball 5 years ago

I would encourage everyone who said the cuts are "nothing" to actually read the article, where you'll find that 4% is around 20 million dollars. KU educates and employs thousands and thousands of people, and student tuition is already extremely high. It should not be difficult to understand the fact that operating a huge university costs money, and a lot of it. All of these ignorant comments about what KU should and shouldn't do with its money and personnel are just pitiful. Don't pretend to be an expert in something you know absolutely nothing about.

yourworstnightmare 5 years ago

KU must consider its core missions in the face of these cuts.

Cutting expansions to the Wichita medical program and closing the recently-opened Salina medical school are the right cuts to make.

Legislators and voters need to feel the pain of these cuts in the form of cutbacks in their districts and increases in tuition.

Private universities all charge between $20,000 and $40,000 per year for tuition, which is a good, market-based estimate of the cost of operating a university. KU is at what, $12,000?

KU has plenty of room to raise tuition and still be less than the free-market-determined cost of a college education.

Boston_Corbett 5 years ago

"recently-opened Salina medical school"


The Salina-based Smokey Hills Medical Residency Training program has been in existence for 25-30 years. There is no "medical school" in Salina.

The rest of your arguments are equally ill-informed, nightmare, unless you want to take back to a European model of higher education where only the RICH and nobility have access.

LJD230 5 years ago

For the grossly uninformed:


there is a difference between a residency program and undergraduate medical education.

The medical school program should never have been started.

ALL basic science courses should be completed in Kansas City. If the two hospitals in Wichita which host KU students were to sign a MAJOR academic affiliation agreement with KU, it would then be possible to have but one administrator in Wichita to oversee the affiliation contract and a physician to coordinate the clerkship experience.

Neither the Wichita campus nor the Salina campus do squat to embellish KU Med's less than sterling academic reputation.

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