State and local briefs


Brownback rescinds Sebilius’ executive order that offers protection from sexual orientation-related bias

On Tuesday, Gov. Sam Brownback rescinded an executive order issued by former Gov. Kathleen Sebilius that offered protection to state employees regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, according to Topeka Capital Journal.

The order, issued in 2007, required agencies under the governor’s control to have programs in place to prevent harassment against people who identify as homosexual, bisexual or transgender, and covered 25,000 state employees.

“This executive order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did,” Brownback said in a statement. “Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action. The order also reaffirms our commitment to hiring, mentoring and recognizing veterans and individuals with disabilities.”

The move has seen severe backlash from many state and national organizations and lawmakers. The Human Right Campaign, an organization promoting gay rights, called the rescind action “shameful” and “foul.”

K-State physicist receives Humboldt Research Award

Uwe Thumm, professor of physics, was among the 100 researchers chosen internationally to receive the Humboldt Research Award, according to a K-State news release.

The award is given to scientists whose discoveries, new theories or insights have had significant influence within their respective disciplines. Thumm was given the award for his lifetime research achievements in atomic, molecular and optical physics.

Winners of the award become lifelong members of the Alexander von Humboldt network and are invited to carry out long-term research projects with colleagues in Germany, which Thumm intends to do. Thumm intends to collaborate with researchers at the University of Frankfurt, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics and the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg.

“This award is a great opportunity to continue collaborations, to start new ones and to interact with leading scientists in Germany,” Thumm said in the release.

K-State’s endowment growth found to be among best in the nation

According to a K-State media release, K-State’s endowment growth in 2014 was found to be in the top 5 percent of all U.S. colleges and universities, according to a study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

The increase in valuation of K-State’s endowment in 2014 saw a 30 percent increase, totaling $474 million.

“The results of the NACUBO study are great affirmation of our investment approach and fundraising efforts,” Lois Cox, vice president for investments and chief investment officer for the Kansas State University Foundation, said in the statement. “With the philanthropic dollars entrusted to us, we strive to thoughtfully invest these resources with a view toward long-term growth. This allowed us to generate an investment return of 19.32 percent for the fiscal year, representing top decile performance among our peers. That performance, coupled with exceptional generosity of alumni and friends in the 2014 fiscal year, contributed to this outstanding growth in the endowed funds held for Kansas State University.”