“Well, I guess this means the honeymoon is over,” Gen. Richard Myers said as the audience laughed.
Myers will be staying at Kansas State longer than originally planned. The former interim president was officially announced as the 14th president of K-State at a special meeting with the Kansas Board of Regents in the K-State Student Union’s Forum Hall on Tuesday morning.
“I’m privileged and humbled to have gained the confidence of the Board of Regents and I thank you very much for that,” Myers said.
Myers graduated from K-State with a mechanical engineering degree in 1965. His career in the U.S. Air Force led him to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Myers said he and the Regents have not put a number on how many years he will serve, but added that the average tenure of a university president is 4.5-6.5 years.
Myers said he and Mary Jo love what K-State has meant to them.
“This is just like every other endeavor in life in that it takes the whole family to be supportive,” Myers said.
Myers said there were three reasons why he chose to apply for the position.
“One, my love of Kansas and Kansas State,” Myers said. “Two, the people … Three, the chance to support higher education and be an advocate for higher education in the state of Kansas.”
Myers said K-State and other land-grant institutions have contributed significantly to the country.
“The whole notion of a land-grant university is one of the notions put into play a long time ago — over 150 years ago — that has probably had as much to do with the development and prosperity of this nation than anything that has ever been done,” Myers said.
Myers also said K-State has a role in the future to bring access to all who want to attend a university.
“We have to provide that access,” Myers said. “That’s our role in life. We do that pretty well, but it’s getting harder and harder to do that with the budget situation.”
Myers said the state budget has had an impact on student tuition.
“One way (to stop yearly tuition increases) is to level off the state budget,” Myers said. “We’re in (fiscal year) ’17. We know we’re going to have at least one cut — at least we anticipate one cut, maybe two cuts before we finish this fiscal year. It’s very difficult to budget with that kind of uncertainty.”
According to the October tax revenue estimates from the Kansas Division of the Budget, the state has collected $80.5 million less than the estimates for the current fiscal year.
Afterward, the university increased student tuition.
“We needed that tuition increase last year — the 5.81 percent — which was necessary to bring in the revenue to operate the university,” Myers said. “But the rising cost of tuition is a real issue.”
Myers said there has been inflation in the cost to the university to educate a student, but not as high as the inflation in the cost of student tuition.
“I hope that the people of Kansas and the Legislature will realize the value of higher education in the state,” Myers said.
Myers referenced the new legislators who were elected in last week’s election.
“We have some new representatives that are going to be in Topeka and maybe their views on values of higher education will be very positive,” Myers said.
Myers also said it is up to the Legislature if they want to revisit the state law that will allow concealed carry on university campuses starting July 1, 2017.
“I’m on the record as believing that concealed carry on a university campus is not in the best interest of the folks on campus,” Myers said. “That’s my stance.”
He added that not everyone at K-State agrees with him.
“I think it would be a lot better if they said you had to have some sort of training, because in the military we give people weapons, but we train them on how to use those weapons,” Myers said.