By Topeka Capital-Journal, Aug. 4
Gov. Sam Brownback appointed three new members to the Kansas Board of Regents on Friday, saying he thought they were the right people to help raise the profile of the state’s public universities, community colleges and technical colleges.
“We aspire to be the best state in America and to do that you really need high-quality education, K-12 and higher,” the governor said.
Brownback is right about that, and we hope he, veteran regents members and the new appointees are successful in raising the profile of the state’s universities.
That said, it should be noted the state has an excellent education system. U.S. News and World Report has The University of Kansas rated 47th among the nation’s top public universities. Kansas State University is ranked 68th. Given the number of public universities in the country, those rankings show KU and K-State aren’t bottom-dwellers. This newspaper frequently reports on impressive advances both schools are making in areas as varied and business and agricultural to medicine and engineering.
Other public universities also have good reputations. Some garner national and international recognition.
Can they all do better and improve their standing among the nation’s universities? Should they aspire to greater heights? Of course they should. An outstanding educational system is a great attraction for any state. Many college students, regardless of where they’re from, tend to locate in the state where they graduated and continue to contribute to their adopted state in numerous ways. The higher the education profile, the greater the benefit to a state and its communities.
Goodland lawyer Joseph Bain was among Brownback’s Friday appointees to the Kansas Board of Regents. He noted there is always room for improvement and said: “Some of that has to do with funding. Some of that has to do with accountability and transparency.”
He is right on all counts.
It is often said that government programs can’t be improved simply by throwing money at them. That’s certainly true, but funding always must be adequate.
Raising the profile of the state’s universities will require the proper mix of brick and mortar, human resources and funding.
As cohesive as Brownback and the Legislature have been on many issues in recent years, legislators haven’t always gone along with the governor’s funding request for K-12 programs or the public universities.
University officials, the Kansas Board of Regents, the governor and legislators all must be on the same page if they plan to raise the profile of our public universities. It is a worthy goal, and we wish them well.