On Wednesday, Pittsburg State University President Steve Scott responded to Gov. Sam Brownback’s announcement that funding for higher education would be cut to deal with continued lower-that-expected state revenues. In a message to faculty and staff, Scott wrote,
“On Monday of this week the University celebrated the completion of its 2007-15 strategic plan. Following a review of our key accomplishments, I revealed the newly adopted plan that will guide our efforts through 2022. Focusing on academic excellence, student success, partnerships, and innovation, I noted the University is well positioned to accomplish even more.
As we strive together to achieve prominence in all that we do and to define a path to achieve this vision, I recognize daily what a special place this is. We are making a difference in the lives of our students and in the life of this community. As I closed the meeting, I felt a strong sense of pride in what we have accomplished and optimism for what was to come.
Within the context of Monday’s celebration and announcement, it was painful to receive news from Topeka Tuesday afternoon that the block grant for FY16 (the year we are currently in) would be reduced by more than $1M. This reduction follows the release of the state’s February revenue figures, which were more than $53M below projections.
As you can imagine, I am both disappointed and frustrated by this development. As the Governor noted in his press release, his goal is to “help the Kansas economy grow.” We share that goal, and it’s evident we are contributing to its realization. However, this latest reduction in funding will impact our ability to contribute to the Governor’s goal. I’m sure you agree with me that investments in higher education are an essential component for moving a state forward, enhancing a state’s economy, and improving the quality of life for its citizens.
Let me be clear…our capacity to ensure academic excellence and a transformational experience for our students will be hampered by these cuts. Furthermore, the instability of state funding is impacting our ability to plan and operate the university.
With all of this noted, I recognize that we have a new reality for the FY16 budget, and we will get to work in the coming days to formulate a path through the remainder of the year. It will not be easy, and it will take all of us working together.
As we know more, we will be communicating via the shared governance structures and additional releases.
Thank you for all you do to make this place so special, and for giving me the confidence we can overcome just about anything that comes our way.”