OPINION: K-State 2025 a master plan for failure

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The cover page of 2025 Annual Report in 2014.

When it comes to goals, Kansas State really strives to make lists. Head football coach Bill Snyder, who recently celebrated his 200th career win, has 16 goals he says people can live by to be successful, for example.

K-State also has seven categories of goals for its “visionary plan” of K-State 2025, a master plan to push the university to become a top 50 research institute by 2025, as stated on the webpage outlining the plan in its entirety. According to Best College Reviews, only one Big 12 school currently cracks the top 50: Iowa State University.

Lofty goals are great. However, not every little girl can be a ballerina, just like every little boy can’t be an astronaut. Not every university can be in the top 50.

The university needs professors and doctors. The university also needs researchers, who can work in the Johnson Cancer Research Center to help find cures; researchers in the College of Agriculture who can figure out the best way to grow crops or the safest way to treat our animals. The problem comes when the university looks for people who can fill both the position of top 50-quality researcher and the position of full-time professor.

What results is either a researcher who doesn’t teach as well because he or she is good at research but not as good at explaining — everyone’s had one of those professors — or a researcher who is good at teaching, but is then left with less time to do research, because he or she is grading papers and preparing lessons.

For current students, one of the more frustrating aspects of K-State 2025 is construction. Construction of the new business building, K-State Student Union renovations, Seaton Hall renovations, the chilled water structure, the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility and more are just some of the things being fixed right now in hopes of attaining this unnecessary goal.

The 2025 goal also shows students what the university really cares about. The 2017 fiscal year rehabilitation and repair projects document shows that more than $9.5 million is necessary to start or complete various projects around campus. However, the ones marked “deferred maintenance” are for buildings that are not primarily used for research, but are mostly for schools within the College of Arts and Sciences.

For example, under Nichols Hall Roof Window Replacement — Main Campus, the “replacement to 30+ yr. old atrium roof window systems leaking and causing damage below” for $300,000 is less important than painting public spaces and replacing windows and doors on the main campus.

It can be frustrating for students using Eisenhower or Kedzie halls to see water stains and bat guano throughout those buildings while the colleges of Business Administration and Engineering get new buildings. But since those colleges do more research and tend to have higher paid graduates who donate, it is not hard to see why.

The new president of K-State, Richard Myers, has the opportunity to change everything, though, which is something he’ll hopefully consider. Keep some aspects of the overall plan; continue to fix buildings that need it, but focus less on the research. Continue to give importance to the undergraduate experience aspects and continuing a strong athletic program, but do not raise tuition more than necessary to meet a goal.

Research is great. Change is great. Making goals and becoming a respected and well-recognized university would be wonderful for the university, but the world will (probably) not end in 2025. What’s so bad about 2026?

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