Even with the recent resignation of Kirk Schulz, K-State’s 13th president, the K-State 2025 plan drafted under Schulz’s supervision and direction is still in full swing, according to April Mason, K-State provost.
Mason said she believes the future of the university and its 2025 plan are as bright as ever.
“Even though our president is leaving, K-State 2025 will absolutely be in place,” Mason said. “This summer marks the first five years, and we would have been starting in 2017 to re-look at the plan. When a new president is selected, it will be an almost perfect time.”
Schulz, who will begin his new presidency at Washington State University this summer, helped propose and build the original foundation of the plan over five years ago. He helped forge the vision of K-State becoming one of the country’s top 50 research universities, according to the 2025 Plan website.
“In our mind, 2025 is going full steam ahead,” Jeffery Morris, vice president for Communications and Marketing, said. “We tend to move forward. We’ve been working on it for five years, and in the short term, we will see very little change,”
Despite Schulz’s involvement, inspiration and direction for the plan, Mason said that it was a collective effort from students, faculty, staff and alumni to form the final version of the plan that is in place currently, and that the same effort that drafted the plan is still seeing it completed today.
“President Schulz really helped us set that vision, but the campus community is a substance of our strategic plan moving forward,” Cindy Bontrager, vice president for Administration and Finance, said. “We are committed as an institution to that plan. We’ve gone through five years, and we need to reevaluate to see what we’ve been successful with and what we have not been successful with and what changes we need to make moving forward.”
Bontrager and Mason both said the staff and faculty initially had hesitations with the loss of a respected president and the start of the process of looking for a new president, but said they have full confidence in, and excitement to work with, Interim President Richard Myers.
Mason said there have been a number of successes as well as areas of weakness in the progress of achieving the goals stated in the 2025 plan.
“I think we’ve been very, very successful at moving our retention rate of freshman to sophomore forward, which was one of our goals,” Mason said. “We set a goal at doing better with our infrastructure and facilities, as well as getting sponsored research funded by external foundations and federal agencies, which we have all been successful. I think our annual report card is looking pretty good.”
Despite the achievement, there were also other areas that Mason, Bontrager and Morris said they agreed needed improvement, such as allocation of funding to graduate students, tuition waivers for graduate teaching assistants and gaining salary increases for faculty.
Mason said much of these problems are a state-level budget issue.
“Unfortunately the budget cuts of the university have huge effects,” Mason said. “What we are trying to do is be strategic to pass those cuts on the budget to increase the revenues.”
Morris said there is potential for a new president to make a shift in the focus and direction for the plan, but it would more than likely be a positive thing, and would have to be approved by the entire community and staff.
“I’m optimistic, even if (losing Schulz) is hard,” Mason said.
Mason said she is looking forward to working with Myers during this transition period of searching for a new president.
“The attributes that I would really like to see continue is the positive attitude and the willingness to come in and build on our strengths,” Bontrager said. “They are going to need to have a strong shared governance philosophy, and make sure they are really inclusive in making decisions to help move the school forward.”