Letters to Campus

February 22, 2010

As you all know, the last few years have been financially challenging to public higher education in Kansas. We have had to deal with significant cuts to our base budget from the State of Kansas, which has resulted in many open positions, which in turn has meant that many of you have had to do more with less. The financial forecast for the next several years does not look promising, which means that we must continue to look for ways to trim our overall budget. Despite our lessening finances, the K-State faculty and staff have all worked a little harder to get by with less while maintaining our dedication to our students.

My idea from the beginning of my tenure at Kansas State was to engage in a campus wide brainstorming activity which would generate ideas for continued cost savings. I am proud of the number and quality of submissions, which exceeded 1500 suggestions from the campus community. These were then pared down, and input was sought from a variety of different governance groups on campus including the Faculty Senate, Classified Senate and Student Senate. Over the past couple of months, I have been working with the cabinet to bring forth a series of budget recommendations which seek to address $15M in funding needs. The overarching theme when looking at our internal allocation of funds is to be sure that we are reinvesting as many dollars as possible into maintaining the quality of our educational endeavors.

My recommendations to the campus community for the upcoming year are available on the Web at: http://www.k-state.edu/budget/initiative.html. The documents available include a spreadsheet with overall recommendations in summary form, a second spreadsheet with detailed cuts by unit area, and a memo which summarizes the key recommendations received from various groups along with our comments on each item.

As we went through our deliberations, there are several key items that the cabinet kept in mind. These principles are what we used in our current proposed budget reallocations, and should help explain our decision processes.

First, we had a strong desire to protect the core mission of K-State -- and as such, to protect the budgets of our departments and colleges as much as possible. With this in mind, it is our intent to hold department and college budgets flat for the upcoming year.

Second, we felt that cuts must be strategic and not simply across the board. In support of this goal, we have provided a specific list of items which will no longer be funded.

Third, we felt that it was critical that we reinvest in hiring needed faculty and staff members in key instructional, research and extension areas across campus. It is our proposal that a per credit hour instructional fee be assessed, and that these dollars would be returned directly to the college that generated the credit hours. This will provide our colleges the opportunities to fill needed faculty and staff lines to ensure that our educational experience retains a high quality for undergraduate and graduate students. 

Fourth, it is important to remember that this is simply a target number which represents our best guess of where we need to be. Further cuts could be required depending on whether the governor's recommendation to hold higher education to our same budget allocation as last year is approved by the Legislature. I am spending as much time as possible in Topeka making a strong case for continued investment in higher education in Kansas, as are the other higher education leaders at our sister universities.

It is important to note that all of the funds which were cut were used for critical items for the success of Kansas State University; indeed, loss of the monies will negatively effect our ability to function as a modern research university. We have tried to document the projected impacts of these cost cutting measures in the spreadsheets located on the Web site.

As you read through these, I am sure you will have some questions and concerns. I am always happy to hear your comments, and would urge you to express your opinions to me directly through e-mail, kirks@k-state.edu, to contact your representatives on either the Faculty, Classified or Student Senates, or come to the budget forum on campus from 1:30 until 3 p.m. at Forum Hall on February 23 or from 2 to 3:20 p.m. on the Salina campus March 1.

I appreciate your continued support as we move K-State forward, and look forward to hearing from the campus community.

Regards,

Kirk