As we begin another semester at the University of Kansas, I want to update you on our efforts in Topeka and how we are fostering relationships across Kansas.
The legislative session convened earlier this month, and KU is working with Kansas’ six state universities and the Kansas Board of Regents on a single priority for the 2018 session: restoring $24 million in Fiscal Year 2017 budget cuts to the state’s higher education system. For KU, this would mean $7.4 million in additional funds, essentially restoring us to 2016 funding levels.
This year, the Legislature’s largest budget challenge will be a response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling requiring a new funding formula for K-12 education. We anticipate lawmakers will propose and debate new ideas in the weeks ahead.
I am heartened by the positive relationships we have with legislators. Again and again in Topeka, we find good and thoughtful people who care deeply about higher education, and I am eager to work with them to improve our university.
Seemingly everywhere you turn on our campuses, Jayhawks are reaching out across the state to share their expertise and improve communities throughout Kansas. For example, our law school is working to address a shortage of lawyers in rural Kansas through its Rural & Solo program, which connects students to smaller Kansas communities and the attorneys who practice there.
KU students studying piano donate their time to teach lessons to students in Dodge City through the School of Music’s Pianos Without Borders program. The students run the program and conduct the lessons without ever leaving Lawrence thanks to Yamaha’s distance-learning technology.
In Kansas City, our new Health Education Building ensures that Kansas’ next generation of health care professionals will have benefited from a modern curriculum. Additionally, the medical center provides heath care across Kansas through telemedicine, medical outreach trips, student-run JayDoc clinics in Kansas City and Wichita, and most recently the expansion of our nursing program in Salina.
These interactions make a world of difference to lawmakers, Kansans, and the society we serve. Your work on behalf of our university and state is inspiring. As always, thank you for all you do.
Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas