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KU chancellor signs letter warning of dangers posed by 'fiscal cliff'


You'll no doubt be hearing plenty during the coming weeks about the impending "fiscal cliff" over which the country is in danger of hurdling. That's the term being thrown around for the mandatory federal spending cuts and tax increases that will spring into place in January if Congress can't reach a budget deal by then.

That conversation will likely extend to the world of higher education. In fact, it already has, because even though a fall from a "fiscal cliff" sounds like it might be slower and more boring than falls from other types of cliffs, it could be quite harmful for research universities.

Because of this, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little joined about 150 other presidents and chancellors from research universities around the country in signing a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders asking them to make sure to reach a sustainable deal in time to prevent those cuts, known as "sequestration." Also among the signers was Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University.

The letter was re-sent today after it was originally sent in July. The leaders of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, along with those 150 or so university leaders, wrote that the cuts would threaten all the federally funded research that happens at their institutions, as well as student aid that allows people to study at them.

The mandatory cuts would affect the federal agencies that fund so much of the research that takes place at KU and other universities, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. It would also affect many federal financial aid programs, though Pell Grants would be protected.

The AAU and APLU also helped create a website, scienceworksforus.org, that tries to show how the "fiscal cliff" cuts would affect research around the country. The site says that it would reduce federal research funding to KU, K-State and Wichita State University by a combined $19 million annually (it does not divide that effect among the institutions).

Watch next month for a look at how the cuts would threaten research activities at KU. You can download the letter signed onto by Gray-Little right here, if you're interested.


Lawrence Morgan 5 years, 4 months ago

Instead of trying to get more and more money for KU, Gray-Little has done nothing to reduce student costs and the resulting huge loans, as well as virtually no exploration of free or almost free online classes.

She has made no effort to further long-time learning by people of all ages.

KU is fast becoming a backwater, except for sports - whatever that is in terms of a college education.

She should be replaced, as well as many of the regents, and people should be hired who look towards the future, not the past.

This is also true with many KU faculty and higher-management staff positions.

Signing letters won't do it.

Jack Martin 5 years, 4 months ago

At Chancellor Gray-Little's direction, KU created new four-year scholarships, with some based on academic performance and the KU Pell Advantage scholarships based on financial need. http://scholarships.ku.edu

She's also met with dozens, if not hundreds of donors as part of the Far Above campaign, a major goal of which is raising money for scholarships. Plus we've been reducing administrative costs through the Changing for Excellence project, with savings being reinvested in academics and research.

We're also creating more online classes through the Center for Online and Distance Learning. In terms of lifelong learning, KU Continuing Education's Osher Institute has been expanding its offerings through partnerships around the state.

As for irtnog2001's comment on research, KU is a research university. The research our professors conduct informs and enhances their teaching, meaning rather than learning from a professor who is just using a textbook, our students often learn from the professor who wrote the textbook. And that's without even considering the learning opportunities (and career preparation) that come from students working with professors on their research or conducting research themselves.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 4 months ago

Jack Martin is exactly right.

I will say, however, that there are some elements at KU who do not see KU as a research university. They pine for KU being a small liberal arts college. These elements are mainly in the humanities, languages, and social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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