When the university rolled out the K-State 2025 plan nearly a decade ago under then-president Kirk Schulz, the idea of K-State becoming a top-50 public research university seemed lofty, but K-State was thriving. It was at an all-time high for enrollment.
Buildings were going up and being remodeled all over the place. The school boasted record-setting fundraising. K-State 2025, which was mentioned in virtually every press release that left campus, sounded good and seemed a worthy goal around which the university community could rally.
Officials are now looking to “tweak” the plan, and we have some thoughts on that.
Over time, it’s become clear that Kansas State University, despite its many wonderful attributes and competitive programs, is nowhere close to becoming a top-50 public research university.
It seems that leaders never really thought that K-State would reach that mark.
That’s silly. A goal should be a stretch — it should require work and growth — but it should be attainable. Setting a goal that’s unrealistic doesn’t help anyone.
Now, having a target that initially seems like a big reach can be inspiring, motivating, and ultimately rewarding (see also: Bill Snyder and K-State football).
But as we know from Coach Snyder, to make great leaps you’ve still got to set smaller goals in the interim and improve every day — in fact, Coach Snyder made the point that daily improvement itself is the only goal that matters. Perhaps that’s a lesson that the university should re-learn from all this.
The other thing K-State officials have to consider is that now, as enrollment backslides, the university may want to shift its focus to different areas. As important as research is, stabilizing enrollment and adjusting for this new reality may be a bigger priority.
We hope officials will find a plan that challenges K-State to grow but is also a logical, realistic aim.