Hammond: Historic moment requires decisions for Fort Hays State University's future

HAYS, KS -- In his State of the Campus address today, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, announced pending employee raises and student tuition for the coming year, and he also talked about decisions that will impact the university's future.

" This is a critical point in our university's history," President Hammond said during this afternoon's annual Spring General Faculty Meeting in the Memorial Union on the FHSU campus. "In the upcoming fall 2005 semester, we will come close to meeting our goal of 5,000 students on campus and 5,000 students off campus, but we know that the demographics of western Kansas mean we can no longer depend on it as our primary source for new students. We will need to look elsewhere in order to protect the integrity of our on-campus programs and position us for future success."

He noted that the recruitment of high-quality faculty would be a critical factor. Also, an effort will be made to increase scholarships in order to attract exceptionally bright students.

The president identified Colorado, Nebraska and the "turnpike corridor" of Kansas as important target areas for recruiting students. He said that FHSU would actively engage high school partners along the Kansas Turnpike in much the same way it has worked with Hays High School, where close to two-thirds of the graduates plan to attend FHSU at least in part because of the concurrent enrollment arrangement between the schools. FHSU is developing partnerships on a trial basis with Olathe North Senior High in Johnson County and Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in Wyandotte County.

He said the university might have to reverse its previous decision in which on-campus students are charged a lower rate than off-campus students for Virtual College classes, which has produced a migration away from the traditional classrooms.

Another major decision will be whether to transform the university learning environment by providing all students with what he called "mobile computing." The president explained that the word "laptop" might not be accurate because students might be given portable computing technology that does not exactly fit that description. He said the decision must be made soon because the program would take two or three years to implement.

President Hammond said major decisions also are needed regarding the university's off-campus initiatives through its Virtual College. FHSU currently has students in China through partnerships with four universities, and it may decide to expand into Turkey. He said there would be continued efforts to improve the quality of the Virtual College offerings, including the development over the coming year of an on-line MBA program. Efforts also will be made to expand the Virtual College in the turnpike corridor.

On the subject of raises, he said the financial flexibility created by the university's international program would allow larger increases than what were funded in the just-ended session of the Kansas Legislature. Lawmakers funded only 2.5-percent raises for a half-year for all faculty plus an additional 1 percent for teaching faculty for the full year. FHSU teaching faculty will receive about 4 percent. Of that amount, 0.5 percent will be used for annual promotion and tenure bonuses and to upgrade salaries of 15 faculty in six departments who have fallen outside salary norms. The president emphasized that the proposed raises for teaching faculty must be approved by the members of the FHSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors before it becomes official. He also pointed out that FHSU's success in meeting its performance agreement goals with the Kansas Board of Regents released additional money that helped enhance faculty raises.

He announced that the university has a stated goal of bringing the average salaries of its faculty up to 100 percent of the average at universities designated by the Regents as peer institutions.

FHSU's non-teaching faculty will receive raises of 3.5 percent on average.

The university has no authority to increase the raises approved by the Legislature for its unclassified employees, who will receive a 1.25-percent raise in July and another 1.25-percent raise in January.

Finally, President Hammond announced that the university plans to propose a 6.5 percent increase in tuition for the 2005-2006 academic year. That proposal to the Regents will actually be an increase of about 5 percent in terms of both tuition and

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Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu