It seemed appropriate that Gov. Sam Brownback chose a library at KSU’s College of Engineering as the place to announce his three new appointees to the Board of Regents. Many believe the Regents will face classic engineering challenges — advanced math challenges, concerns over stress loads, and questions related to functionality — in formulating budgets and policies for the institutions they govern. There is also some fear that an inability to find the right solutions could prompt the entire structure’s collapse.
The three appointees are Shane Bangerter, an attorney from Dodge City, Ann Murguia, a council member in Kansas City, and Helen Van Etten, a Topeka nurse. They succeed Dan Lykins, Christine Downey Schmidt, and Janie Perkins. The appointments must be confirmed by the Kansas Senate.
The Board of Regents oversees the six state universities, 19 community colleges and six technical colleges.
All three of the new appointees indicated their alignment with Brownback’s declared goal to “stabilize” higher education funding in the state, although all three stopped short of committing themselves beyond that point.
Brownback himself made it clear he wasn’t giving up on that goal, notwithstanding the recently imposed legislative cuts.
“What passed is what passed…it doesn’t change the objective,” he said. “We’re going to keep pushing for (stable funding.) I think we’ve got a good shot.”
Bangert, who has been vice chairman of the board of trustees of Dodge City Community College, made the most specific remarks regarding his approach to higher education funding. Those remarks amounted to working with what they are given.
“It’s not really our call what money we get,” he said. “The money we do get we need to be great stewards of.” Of the legislators themselves, he said, “hopefully they make the right decisions.”
Van Etten was educated in Taiwan and the United States. She works for the Topeka school district. She said funding higher education against other interests of the state was a “balancing act.”
Murguia ran this spring for mayor of the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County. She serves on the Unified Government council, representing the Argentine area of Kansas City, a predominantly Hispanic district of the city.
Murguia said she would bring the perspective of her constituents, many of whom are low-income, to the regents.