Schools pursue 'alignment' talks: FHSU, North Central Kansas Technical College announce discussions on ways to maximize efficiencies

A delegation from Fort Hays State University traveled to the Beloit campus of the North Central Kansas Technical College today to discuss how the two schools might combine efforts in order to become more efficient.

NCKTC also has a campus in FHSU's home city of Hays.

During a 10 a.m. news conference that followed a meeting with NCKTC faculty, the presidents of the university and the technical college announced that their two schools were discussing a possible "alignment."

"We are talking about the best way for FHSU and NCKTC to serve the citizens of Kansas as it relates to applied technology," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "Our university provides associate degrees and bachelor's degrees in tech studies, and the technical college provides certificates and associate degrees. It does not make sense for FHSU to create a College of Applied Technology and duplicate what is already available through NCKTC in both Beloit and Hays, so we are exploring how we might work together."

Clark Coco, president of NCKTC, said the idea of taking an "alignment" approach to some functionality and services arose when members of his Board of Trustees asked if there was a model elsewhere that might be followed. "We discovered that Bemidji State University in Minnesota had joined efforts with a technical school, combining some of their administrative functions under what they called an alignment," President Coco said. "It's hard to define what an alignment is, but it gives us a starting point for discussions."

He said officials from the two schools had already had two or three "sit-downs" to explore what might work.

President Hammond said the talks arose out of concerns over funding challenges. "We are anticipating major changes with the stream of funding in the near future that could have a significant impact on tech studies," he said. "Therefore, we thought it wise to put our heads together. We're just committed to the discussions right now, but we thought it was important to make this public announcement and be transparent about the fact that our two schools are exploring the possibility of an alignment."

President Coco said the first question in discussions with his faculty and staff was whether this would be a case of "the big taking over the small." He said that was not the plan. "It's a matter of looking at how we can use limited resources efficiently and add stability to both institutions."

President Hammond agreed. "A merger does not make a lot of sense," he said. "NCKTC needs to retain ownership of its campus and needs to keep its institutional identity alive. An alignment, though, might hold great potential for keeping both schools strong and ensuring that Kansas citizens, especially in central and western Kansas, continue to have access to high quality technical education."

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