Last week I wrote to you about some of the effects that budget cuts proposed by the Kansas Legislature would have on the University of Kansas and our ability to meet our responsibilities as the state’s flagship university. Working with leaders on all of our campuses, I have additional details to share with you, which I will also be sharing this afternoon with the Board of Regents.
As you know, Governor Brownback proposed flat funding for higher education for the coming year, as well as support for the Health Education Initiative at the KU Medical Center. He is going to be visiting KUMC on April 25 as part of a tour to encourage legislators to support higher education.
Contrary to the Governor’s recommendation, both the Kansas Senate and Kansas House have proposed cuts to higher education. The largest of these was proposed by the House, which through a 4 percent across-the-board cut and other significant reductions, would total $20.3 million. More than $11 million of that would be at the KU Medical Center, and add up to cuts exceeding 10 percent.
Coming on top of more than a decade of disinvestment, the results of these cuts would be severe, and would require a series of unfortunate but necessary cutbacks, including:
- Reducing by 36 the number of medical students we admit each year. Three-quarters of the reduction would be in Wichita, where we would be forced to return to only educating third- and fourth-year students. The School of Medicine-Salina would close.
- Reducing by 50 the number of nursing students we admit and by 30 the number of available medical resident positions, with the latter reduction divided equally between Kansas City and Wichita. This would have a direct effect on patient care.
- Significant risk of non-renewal of our hard-won National Cancer Institute designation. Renewal is already a high bar and will be even more difficult to achieve if we’re unable to make infrastructure investments and recruit and retain talented cancer researchers.
- Elimination of at least 38 faculty positions on the Lawrence Campus alone, which will have a negative effect on our ability to educate students, contribute to the vitality and prosperity of Kansas and achieve our shared goal of raising the university’s stature. The inability to replace departed faculty harms teaching and research, while not being able to retain faculty would turn KU into a “farm team” for universities in other states.
Taken together, these would seriously impair our ability to educate leaders, build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world.
These cuts would also reverse KU’s efforts to raise its quality, rankings and stature in relation to our Association of American Universities peers, and could even jeopardize KU’s continued membership in AAU.
Cuts will be made in accordance with our strategic plan, Bold Aspirations. Deans and other university leaders have been making contingency plans for just such an occurrence.
We have seen positive signs that legislators may be moving away from the largest cuts. But after the disinvestment of the past 15 years, any cut would harm our ability to achieve our mission. We will continue to work with policymakers, business leaders and our alumni advocates in Jayhawks for Higher Education to ensure that our university continues to be able to serve the students and people of Kansas.