Letters to campus

April 2014

Dear Faculty and Staff,

On my early morning walks around the park I am finally able to wear shorts outside again, which can only mean that summer is almost here. It's hard to believe we are heading toward the end of another academic year. This has been an outstanding year in many ways for K-State, and I hope all of you have exciting summer plans with friends and family.

This month, I want to update you on two key university items as we wrap up the school year — a legislative update and vice presidential searches.

Legislative Update

The Kansas State University Government Relations team has been working hard in this year's legislative session with a high priority on restoration of the salary cap reduction funds that were cut during the 2013 session. I am pleased to report we were successful in getting these state appropriation funds restored and were selected to receive new funds designated to grow the College of Architecture, Planning & Design and renovate the Seaton Complex.

Items approved for Kansas State University include:

  • Restore one-half funding in FY 2014 for the salary cap on the university imposed by the 2013 Kansas Legislature. This is a recommended restoration of $949,829 for K-State and $1,500,562 for K-State Research and Extension.
  • Restore all funding in FY 2015 for the salary cap on the university imposed by the 2013 Kansas Legislature. This is a recommended restoration of $1,196,484 for K-State and $1,419,764 for K-State Research and Extension. The 1.5 percent State General Funds (SGF) base budget cut of $2,497,208 distributed in FY 2014 was not restored in FY 2015.
  • Provide $1.5 million for the College of Architecture, Planning & Design to be used with the $1 million allocated in FY 2014 to begin design work for the renovation and expansion of Seaton Hall, with $5 million to continue in FY 2016 and beyond.
  • Continue $10.5 million to address repair, rehabilitation and maintenance needs for campus facilities.
  • Continue $5 million for animal health initiatives on the campus, which has been re-named Global Food Systems.
  • Continue $5 million in base budget funding for the College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Continue $5 million for the launching of NBAF-related research at K-State.
  • Continue $3.5 million for the University Engineering Initiative Act.

These items constitute only part of our universitywide budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The deans and vice presidents have completed internal reallocation plans, and we will present our proposal to the Kansas Regents in May and June for K-State tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year. Once we know what our tuition will be for the upcoming year and have a complete budget picture, we will provide a budgetary update in June.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sue Peterson for her outstanding leadership in Topeka working with our legislative colleagues. This year, many of the Kansas Regents also worked diligently in the Legislature to advocate for increased funding for higher education. The K-State Alumni Association spent more time this year working with our alumni encouraging their involvement in reaching out to elected officials regarding the impact of higher education on our future.

Additionally, many of our faculty, staff and student leaders met with elected officials as positive advocates for funding public higher education in Kansas. Your efforts also made a substantive positive difference! Legislative advocacy is a team sport, and I very much appreciate everyone's efforts in making this a successful year for higher education in Kansas.

Vice President Searches

As we conduct administrative searches, we are showcasing Kansas State University to prospective candidates. With every search, I want each visiting candidate to leave hoping they will get a phone call offering them the job. In my opinion, every time a prospective job candidate at any level takes part in a phone, airport or on-campus interview, it is an opportunity to showcase all the great things K-State and Manhattan have to offer.

While every interview is an opportunity to advocate for K-State, I believe it is very challenging to bring in vice presidential candidates and learn everything we need to know in two days. It also is challenging for our finalists to learn everything they would like to know about K-State in that same period of time. As such, following search committee deliberations, I have invited back a single, preferred candidate for a second visit to have further meetings with people on campus and the senior leadership team. While we don't publicize the second visit with a campus announcement, I believe that additional time spent on campus is critical to a successful hire. The drawback is that it can take more time to finish a search, but in the end, the most important goal is to hire absolutely the best candidate for K-State.

We invited three candidates to campus for the vice president for research search, which I hope to have concluded in the next two weeks. I appreciate all of the campus involvement with the VPR finalists during a very busy time of the year.

We are in the process of interviewing four candidates for the vice president for human capital search, and as stated above, we will invite back a preferred candidate for a second visit following search committee deliberations and recommendations. I will continue to keep campus updated as we conclude this search.

As I sit down with the VP finalists, they all comment on the positive energy they experienced at K-State, and to a person are impressed with the opportunities here. What they feel is most notable is that this "positive can-do" attitude is prevalent from all of the groups they met with on campus over two days. Each one of them has shared in their exit interview that they think this would be a great place to work!

I would like to wish all of you the best of success this summer. Many years ago, campuses became ghost towns during the summer, but not today! For summer 2014 many of you will continue teaching, working on scholarship and preparing for the fall 2014 semester. I hope each of you find some time for relaxation and renewal over the next three months.

Go 'Cats!

Kirk