K-State's new president, Kirk Schulz, is here to help the university be successful -- and he knows he can't do it alone.
This was the message delivered by Schulz at his inaugural State of the University address Sept 25. The address was followed by a question and answer session.
"My ultimate job is to bring resources into the university to help you all be successful," he said. "I'm not teaching students. I'm not working with graduate students like you all. What I can do is help provide the resources necessary so you can teach well, be in modern facilities and have excellent students that are supported on scholarships; so that we have faculty of distinction and can award salaries so we are more competitive in the Big 12. I'm here to help everyone be successful."
Addressing a packed ballroom at the K-State Alumni Center, Schulz highlighted the university's successes over the past year, which included K-State's winning bid for the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, recruiting a record number of minority students, earning tax support for K-State's satellite campus in Olathe, and the advancement of both entrepreneurship and sustainability efforts on campus.
During the address, which took on a more informal atmosphere than in years past, Schulz covered a variety of topics, noting both the university's achievements and the mounting challenges, particularly those related to funding.
He characterized K-State as already pretty lean and said as the university looks for ways to save additional money the process will be very collaborative. He encouraged people to share their budgetary ideas through the university's Web page at http://www.k-state.edu/budget/initiative.html
In response to a question about whether K-State will continue in its tradition of "doing more with less," Schulz said there may be opportunities for consolidation.
"I do think that higher education in general, and K-State in particular, has reached a point where there's not just a lot of fat sitting out there," he said. "There are some opportunities, I still believe, through consolidated enterprises, particularly from an administrative point of view, that will result in some cost savings."
When it comes to making tough decisions, Schulz said, "There will not be some edict that comes out of Anderson Hall. There will be plenty of time to dialogue and get feedback."
Schulz also attempted to allay the fear of layoffs as a budgetary measure, saying that laying off tenure and tenure-track faculty is "off the table," adding that generally "our intention is not to go the layoff route."
He also said that drastically increasing the student body wasn't the best approach to remedying budgetary woes.
"Adding students above 23,500 is not going to be the way out of this," Schulz said. "If you add too many students to an already strained infrastructure, all it ends up doing is stressing the system and degrading the educational experience."
He said between 23,000 and 24,000 students is a good target number.
Schulz also updated the crowd on the Board of Regents' recent audit of the university. In August, Schulz appointed a committee to conduct a thorough review of the audit's findings and to make recommendations on how the university could change its practices to avoid the concerns identified. The committee will issue a preliminary set of recommendations to the Regents in October, with plans to finalize the report in November. Both of those, he said, will be public documents.
"We are going to change our practices to make sure we are using the best business practices possible," Schulz said. "Then we are going to move on."
To view a video of the full State of the University address, go to http://www.k-state.edu/president/media/video_sotu_092509.html