When then-Gov. Mark Parkinson challenged the Kansas Board of Regents in 2009 to improve the state universities’ standings nationally, U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Kansas as 96th among 260 national universities and put Kansas State University in its third tier (between 134th and 196th) and Wichita State University in its fourth (between 197th and 260th). Parkinson proposed a 10-year goal of vaulting KU into the top 50 and K-State into the top 100 and having no Kansas institution in the bottom tier. Since then, the institutions’ leaders and the regents have sought to increase graduation rates and enrollments as well as court research and other funding. But in the U.S. News rankings released last month, KU was 101st, K-State was 135th, and WSU’s unpublished ranking was in the bottom one-fourth. The regents recently voted to ask Gov. Sam Brownback to restore tens of millions of dollars of higher-education funding cut last spring. On our Opinion pages Sunday, WSU president John Bardo writes about his strategy for significantly boosting enrollment and enhancing quality.
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