COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY & ALUMNI LEADERS JOIN TOGETHER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 30, 2010

COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY & ALUMNI LEADERS JOIN TOGETHER; CALL FOR NO ADDITIONAL CUTS TO HIGHER EDUCATION

Higher Education Leaders Say New Revenue Is Needed

(TOPEKA) – Today the Kansas Board of Regents joined with leaders of the state’s public universities, colleges and alumni associations asking legislators to renew their commitment to higher education funding in order to prepare Kansas for the economic recovery.

This unprecedented collaborative effort brings together leaders of Kansas’s seven public universities, 19 community colleges, six technical colleges, and the Board of Regents, as well as leaders of the public university alumni associations which represent over 400,000 alumni.

“The Kansas public higher education system is a vital engine for economic growth,” said Regent Jill Docking of Wichita, the Chair of the Kansas Board of Regents. “It’s imperative that state policymakers remember that Kansas’ economic recovery and future prosperity depend on a strong public higher education system. Additional cuts would inflict serious damage to our colleges and universities; new revenue is needed.”

Docking was one of 10 leaders to send an opinion column to media outlets statewide yesterday, pointing out that the long-term future of Kansas depends on the availability of quality higher education, and that additional cuts pose clear risks to the state’s future.

In addition, today the leaders of the seven public university alumni associations collectively sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to avoid additional cuts to higher education, and echoing their support for new sources of revenue if necessary.

“We understand these are challenging times, but only by investing in our state’s universities can we ensure Kansas is ready for the economic recovery. If that requires new revenue, we know our members would support such a move because they believe in the power of higher education to improve lives and grow the economy,” the alumni leaders wrote.

Over the past year, the state’s public universities, community colleges, and technical colleges have absorbed a 13% cut ($106 million). The state’s higher education system now sits at Fiscal Year 2006 funding levels, which means it is now at the bare minimum in terms of the funding levels required to retain eligibility for the receipt of federal stimulus dollars. Any additional cuts whatsoever will jeopardize the millions of dollars in vitally important federal funding that has served as a life-preserver for the state’s higher education system.

At a time when enrollments continue to increase statewide, over 1,000 employees and positions have been laid off, held vacant, or eliminated, and over 450 academic programs and classes have been eliminated, producing increased class sizes and making it less likely students will be able to graduate on time. Tuition has increased, institutions are now turning away qualified Kansans from high demand programs, and some institutions are even considering enrollment caps. It will take the next decade for the state’s higher education system to fully recover from the recent budget cuts.

Copies of both letters are attached.

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About the Kansas Board of Regents:

The nine-member Kansas Board of Regents is the governing board of the state’s six universities and the statewide coordinating board for the state’s 32 public higher education institutions (seven public universities, 19 community colleges, and six technical colleges). In addition, the Board administers the state’s student financial aid, adult education, GED, and career and technical education programs. The Board also authorizes private proprietary schools and out-of-state institutions to operate in Kansas, and administers the Kan-ed network, a statewide network that provides broadband Internet access and distance learning capabilities for schools, hospitals, and libraries.

For more information contact Kip Peterson at (785) 296-3421 or at kpeterson@ksbor.org.