Picking up the pace in Topeka and across the state
Dear Jayhawk for Higher Education,
After its typical slow start, 2014 Kansas Legislative Session kicked into second gear this week, with the University of Kansas front and center for various committee meetings and Statehouse events.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Gray-Little appeared before the Joint Committee on State Building Construction to discuss KU’s top legislative priority, the Health Education Initiative to train more doctors for Kansas. Though the meeting was rescheduled at the last minute, the Chancellor was able to discuss the Health Education Initiative with the Lawrence-Journal World and the Kansas Health Institute — resulting in a great editorial and a radio interview that aired on Kansas Public Radio.
On Wednesday, the Chancellor visited with the Senate Ways and Means Education Subcommittee and the House Education Budget Committee, providing both groups an update (view PDF) of KU’s progress in implementing our strategic plan, Bold Aspirations. Additionally, more than two dozen KU students joined their peers from other Kansas universities to showcase their research to legislators as part of the annual Kansas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol.
KU activity continued into today with our annual KU in the Capitol event. We had a great turnout, as the Chancellor and other university officials visited with legislators to discuss KU’s role in creating a healthy and prosperous state. At noon, the Chancellor again visited with the Joint Committee on State Building Construction to discuss the Health Education Initiative. As a first step, the committee approved $1.4 million to pay debt service on KU’s proposed new health education building should the state decide to support the initiative. Also today, 13 KU graduate students showcased their research projects in the Statehouse as part of the Capitol Graduate Research Summit.
Overall, we’re pleased with how the session has started — beginning in January with Governor Brownback’s call to largely reverse the 2013 salary cap cuts for universities and extending into the conversations we’ve had this week. We’ll continue to work with policymakers and KU supporters like you to advocate on behalf of KU and seek support for our Health Education Initiative to provide Kansas the physicians it desperately needs.
Health Education Initiative tools
We’ve created a new site for the Health Education Initiative at doctors4ks.ku.edu. The site has messaging on Kansas’ crucial shortage of doctors, as well as handy one-page fact sheets to help you discuss the initiative with legislators and a list of story ideas for you to share with media outlets in your community. You can also join the conversation on twitter at #Doctors4KS.
The initiative’s take-home message is straightforward: Kansas faces a crucial shortage of doctors, and KU is the only entity equipped to address it. But we need legislative support.
Visiting with legislators in your community
With the Legislative Session in full swing, legislators statewide are now attending breakfasts, “coffee talks” and town hall meetings to chat with constituents like you. We encourage you to attend these events in your area and talk with legislators about higher education and KU. To help keep you informed of these events, we will begin emailing you alerts for upcoming events in your area. We’ll also keep a list of events on the JHE site. Again, our goal is to provide you the resources you need to engage legislators on behalf of KU.
As always, thank you for your support of KU.
Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs
Kevin Corbett, c’88
President, KU Alumni Association