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Schulz is upbeat about the state of K-State

By Bryan Richardson

K-State President Kirk Schulz depicted a university on the rise during his State of the University address Friday afternoon at the K-State Alumni Center.

“This was a record-setting year for us in many, many ways,”  Schulz said. The records include 24,378 students enrolled this fall, $121 million in donations in fiscal year 2012, $25.8 million in athletic support and the participation of 91,975 alumni in various ways.

Schulz said enrollment and recruitment is a team effort with faculty and staff working to make students and families feel welcome at K-State.

“It’s interesting the number of times we hear these stories over and over again,” Schulz said about the positive tour experience. “I think our enrollment is something for us to be proud of.”

Fundraising is also an area that Schulz expressed pride in as the university seeks to surpass the recently set record. The goal for next year’s fundraising is $130 million.

Schulz said the university has been working hard to get the larger donations. In FY12, K-State received 13 gifts of $1 million or more. “This is an area in particular that during my time as president we’ve really tried to focus on,” Schulz said.

The fundraising aspect is important as the university relies less and less on state funding. For the second consecutive year, the university is getting more money from tuition than from the state in FY 2013.

Schulz said a return to the days when the state provided more support than students is not likely.

“I think these lines are crossed, and this is probably the most telling part of our new economy and the way a lot of public universities are supported across the country,” he said.

Schulz also talked about adding to the university’s academic infrastructure. Room 105 Umberger Hall, Justin Hall expansion and the McCain Auditorium stage have been completed, and work on the Purple Mosque Theatre and K-State grain science complex will be ongoing during the year.

Schulz said a new building for the business school and expansion of the engineering school are in the planning stages. He said K-State hasn’t added core academic space in 12 years, a concern since the university continues to grow.

“I think over the next year or two we’re going to need some momentum to make sure that we are adding high-quality research and teaching space for our core academic programs on campus,” he said.

Schulz said the need for academic space has to be addressed as K-State moves toward its goal of becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025.

He answered questions about the focus of the university as it pursues K-State 2025 including a concern expressed by math professor David Yetter that resources in his and other areas of the university might be re-allocated to the sciences.

“I cannot think of a top research university that does not have excellent programs across the board,” he said. “Not just sciences, which (K-State 2025) entirely focuses on, but humanities and social sciences.”

Schulz said the K-State 2025 documents are still in draft phase and “substantial revisions” could be forthcoming. “Is the methodology perfect? Absolutely not,” he said. “We’ve had many of our colleagues point out flaws.”

After the address, Schulz said he wanted people “to feel good about the leadership, where we’re going and where we’ve been. Sometimes, everybody is so frantic and you’re working on so hard that you need stop occasionally and look and say, ‘Wow, we really did have a pretty spectacular year.’”

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