In his final State of the University address as president of Kansas State University, Richard Myers said K-State “is sound, very sound.”

“We’ve weathered many challenges, but we’ve proven as a team and a community our mettle,” Myers said.

Myers delivered his sixth such address to about 100 university employees, students and community members Friday in Forum Hall in the K-State Student Union. The address opened with a video recognizing the Native American land the university sits on. Myers said this month “marks another milestone” with the update of the K-State 2025 Visionary Plan intended to grow the university across multiple levels.

“The journey has been exhilarating always, and at times very challenging,” said Myers, who is retiring at the end of 2021.

In 2011 under then-K-State president Kirk Schulz, the university launched K-State 2025 with the intent on becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025.

Myers said university administrators will publish the 10-year report on the progress made on implementing the 2025 plan’s goals in December. Myers said the 2025 plan “had many positive impacts in how we do our work” as a university, and that it “served as a catalyst” for change and dialogue on how to improve university operations.

In ‘perfect world,’ K-State would

mandate vaccines

Myers stated his desire for a vaccine mandate even thought K-State can’t legally do so.

An online viewer asked Myers for his thoughts on vaccine mandates and required COVID-19 testing.

“In a perfect world we’d be able to mandate vaccines, but Kansas law passed in this last session prohibits that for us,” Myers said. “We’re following (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance, that’s our rock, what we lean on.”

Myers said the elimination of a mask mandate on campus would be based on guidance from the CDC, and that university officials are “not going to make up rules on our own.”

No panic about

conference

realignment

On athletics, Myers said he “did not know we were going to have a shuffle” with the Big 12 Conference before he departed.

At the end of July, Texas and Oklahoma accepted invitations to join the Southeastern Conference.

In response, the Big 12 welcomed Brigham Young, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston into the conference last week.

Myers said he doesn’t think he or K-State athletic director Gene Taylor “panicked” at the reshuffling of the conference. He said he is proud of “the way Gene handled his department during the pandemic.”

An online viewer asked Myers about the potential ramifications of competing against BYU, a private school affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The person asked Myers if any kind of “discrimination against LGBTQ+ people” at BYU would potentially tarnish K-State’s reputation.

“If we were judged by the teams we play against in football, we’d have probably gone down the drain a long time ago,” Myers said.

Enrollment down

K-State’s enrollment is down again.

Myers didn’t provide specific numbers Friday, but he said the number of students has “slightly” decreased this fall.

Last fall, the university reported 20,854 students. That brought K-State’s enrollment to its lowest fall enrollment since 1997 when it had 20,306 students.

The university has experienced a continuous decline since reaching a peak of 24,766 students in the fall of 2014.

K-State is expected to release the enrollment data this month.

Myers ‘very

fulfilled’

To wrap up the State of the University address, Myers told the audience he feels “very fulfilled” by serving as president.

“It’s been such a fulfilling experience to work with such a great team,” Myers said. “We have great leaders down here that have made huge differences. Our students are really terrific.”

Myers, a K-State alumnus, is the 14th president of the university, and has served in that role since June 2016. A retired four-star general, Myers served as the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2001 to 2005. He served as the principal military adviser to the president, the secretary of defense, and the National Security Council during the War on Terror and the beginning of the invasion of Iraq.

K-State continues its search for its new president.