Lucas Corbin reporter
On April 19 and 20, Pittsburg State University welcomed the Kansas Board of Regents to its campus, where they toured the facilities and completed legislative affairs, including committee meetings and their regular monthly meeting.
The Kansas Board of Regents is the governing body of the thirty-three higher educational institutions in the state, overseeing the six universities, twenty-five community and technical colleges, and two municipal universities. The decisions they make affect the students and staff at those institutions and have an indirect, trickle-down effect on those institutions’ communities and public schools. Members of the board are appointed by the Governor of Kansas.
The meeting was called to order at 1:33 P.M. by chairman Jon Rolph. Members were warmly welcomed by university President Dan Shipp and the Jazz Band, which marks the first time in Regent’s history that they began a meeting with lively music.
Dr. Karen Johnson, the Faculty Senate President at Pitt State, presented the Council of Faculty Senate Presidents’ attempts to preserve and expand diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) principles.
“We believe that preserving DEIB efforts on all of our campus’ is essential for faculty, staff, and students,” said Johnson, encouraging the board to listen to the faculty members who are experts on the subject. The Council also formally asked the Regents for ex-officio status; if granted, the faculty senate Presidents would be allowed to attend and participate in Regent discussions but would not have the right to vote on any matters that come before the board.
Sadie Williams, President of the Student Body at the University of Kansas and chair of the Students’ Advisory Committee, requested that the board use its governing powers to continue to put students first.
“What [we] are looking for more than anything… is the support and being just cognizant [sic] that students are in need of some additional protections in the classroom,” said Williams, advocating on behalf of student academic rights.
In Topeka, Governor Laura Kelly passed changes to the Promise Act Scholarship, allowing the Regents to modify the rules and regulations, eligible programs, and expand the number of students that may receive the scholarship. Kelly also passed House Bill 2322, which expands the Special Education for Exceptional Children Act to include dyslexia, which will help individuals with disabilities obtain access to resources that will help them succeed.
“I’d like to thank Governor Kelly and the Kansas legislature for their commitment to improving the lives of our students with dyslexia,” Rolph said of the legislative session.
President Shipp presented his facility primary plan status update, including the announcement of a new College of Business and demolition of Shirk Hall and Annex, to fully utilize the space on campus.
“We have two-thirds of our current buildings dating to 1908 through the 1960s… Some of these buildings are coming up on some renewal efforts,” said Shipp to the board. The average building age on campus is sixty-eight years old.
In the days following the meeting, members of the board toured the facilities; the tour will be used as a reference point as they consider future funding.
The Board of Regents will meet again on May 17 and 18.