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Faculty Chat with Kirk

This is the official chat transcript from April 27, 2011. It reads top-to-bottom.

Thomas Roche asks:I know that this is a difficult time to ask this question but here goes. What can you tell us about short-term and long-term construction goals. Tom Roche

Kirk Schulz Excellent question, and we have quite few construction projects in the hopper. The Basketball Practice Facility is underway, and we will also be starting our planned expansion of Justin Hall. These projects are completely funded out of private donations to K-State. Additionally, we will start to construct a new Purple Masque theatre in Memorial Stadium and will start the new Krause Feedmill/Biorefinery this summer. Both of these are funded from a variety of sources. So - there will certainly be some significant construction coming this summer. New projects will be limited to what we can raise funds for. What is on the horizon - we are actively fundraising for the Student Welcome Center (Memorial Stadium renovation) and a new state-of-the-art instructional/classroom building. The limitation on these projects is really how fast we can raise the private funds.

Betsy Cauble asks:How are we going to have programs at the Olathe campus if we don't have adequate resources here to give faculty raises?

Kirk Schulz There is no question that this is a pretty challenging time financially to open up a new campus. We have allocated some limited additional funds to the Olathe Campus - about $250,000 per year for the next two years in permanent funding. However, currently the majority of the funding for the Olathe campus is coming through the JCERT funds which are funded through tax collections in Johnson County. Finally, we have several major funding proposals out to foundations and corporations in the KC metro area to help provide funds for our Olathe campus. The bottom line is that if we took all of the funds we are providing Olathe currently - it would not be nearly enough to cover a 1% across the board salary increase.

Geofred Osoro asks:What plans are in place aimed at developing African studies programs including languages at K-State?

Kirk Schulz These sorts of decisions are under the jurisdiction of Provost April Mason. Today we had an event at NISTAC to discuss opportunities in Africa for Kansas State University. Over the next several months, I am optimistic that we will begin to focus on specific geographic areas or universities to partner with in Africa. Once we do this, we can then figure out what else we want to do and how to appropriately resource these areas.

David Rintoul Has there been any progress on finding funds for a classroom building, which is desperately needed

Louis Wojcinski asks:Dr. Schultz, This question is about the budget. My alma mater is also dealing with some severe budget cuts, and I am cutting and pasting some Q&A items from an alumni newsletter. It has some details about the budget and how the cuts would directly effect students and education. Why does it seem like K-State doesn't get this kind of information out? What has Penn State done to reduce its expenses? Over the past 20 years, Penn State has made internal budget cuts of about $200 million and reallocated those savings to areas that focus on teaching and learning. Also, in the coming budget year, through this annual process it will cut at least another $17.3 million from its budget. Why has tuition grown so much over the past decade? During that decade the state appropriation remained stagnant -- no increases. We are currently at the same appropriation we received in 2000. At the same time, Penn State's enrollment increased by 14,000 students (or 17 percent). So the per student appropriation has continued to drop. Not only was there no increase from the state for educating more students, there also was no increase for costs that were rising, like technology, health insurance, utilities, property insurance and maintenance. Without an increase in our appropriation, more upward pressure was placed on tuition. Our state appropriation now covers about 18 percent of our instructional budget, compared with 62 percent in 1971 -- however, it is still a critical component in our ability to offer a substantially lower in-state tuition rate for Pennsylvania residents. Has there been a proliferation of employees? Our faculty to student ratio is 18 students for every one faculty member. But some are questioning why we have so many "employees" compared to students. Some confusion may have come from the "sound bite" that Penn State writes 47,000 paychecks a month. The numbers are a little more complex. Included in that 47,000 figure are all part-time and full-time employees, as well as what we call "casual" employees. (For example, those who park people during events on campus or work as ushers). This number includes hundreds of employees in agricultural research and Cooperative Extension; about 9,000 employees at the Hershey Medical Center; all employees in the self-supporting units (like the Nittany Lion Inn, Penn Stater Conference Center, Athletics, and Housing and Food Services). It also includes all research staff who are paid through grants and contracts; airport staff; police services and the list could go on. In addition, 25 percent of the total number of employees also is made up of part-time student workers. As you can see, a large number of these positions are in units that bring in money to pay for those employees. So, without drilling down into the numbers, that statement has been misinterpreted.

Kirk Schulz We are doing all we can to communicate openly about the budget and its effects on Kansas State University faculty, staff, and students. While the numbers at Penn State may be slightly different than ours, the general themes are very much the same. We do discuss these types of issues with the legislature and other elected officials. Thus, while we do post some of this information, we could do a much better job of keeping the campus community informed of these broader issues and our general responses to them. All of this being said, generally all of these types of statistics do not generally make much different in the world of legislative appropriations for higher education in the current budget climate. As I read over my answer - this really sounds very "presidential" - which means I effectively danced around the issue. Bottom line - we need to do a better job communicating these facts to the campus community.

Betsy Cauble Kirk, We cannot post questions. Calling ITAC. Betsy

Betsy Cauble ITAC is working on the problem. Will call us back. Betsy

Betsy Cauble The ask a question box is back, so ask away.....

Kirk Schulz In response to the question about a classroom building, we are in discussions with several interested private donors about a new $15M to $17M classroom building which would be located in the central part of campus.

Thomas Vontz asks:The opening of the Olathe campus generated a lot of excitement in Olathe and across Kansas. Are there any plans to ask faculty in Manhattan or Salina for ideas about programs that might be housed in Olathe.

Kirk Schulz I am currently working on my April letter to campus ( o.k. - maybe working on it is a bit of a stretch - perhaps thinking about it!), and I will specifically talk about what we are planning to do at K-State Olathe in the short term, and will directly solicit some ideas from our faculty and staff. We need creative ideas that will be of particular interest to residents and businesses in the the KC metroplex. If anyone wants to send ideas in now - just drop me an email note at

Kirk Schulz Folks - sorry about the technical problems tonight. We will have them all fixed for the next chat. Good luck as the semester comes to an end - and may your summer be a productive one!