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State legislators tour FHSU





Kansas legislators arrived with a list of questions Monday when they visited Fort Hays State University.

FHSU was one of the stops on the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committee's fact finding tour.

FHSU President Edward Hammond kicked off the afternoon session with a presentation featuring the university's highlights.

Then he joined Tisa Mason, vice president for student affairs, Chris Crawford, interim provost, and Mike Barnett, vice president for administration and finance, to field legislators' questions ranging from the Virtual College, recruiting students, graduation rates and student debt.

Deans Rob Scott, Paul Faber and Mark Bannister, and Dennis King, virtual college director, and Tim Chapman, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation, also stepped to the microphone.

"You've done a lot of good things out here at Fort Hays, things for which you should be quite proud," said Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City.

Then Abrams asked about ACT scores and lower four-year graduation rates compared to other Kansas Board of Regent schools.

Hammond said ACT scores only count for traditional students, not those in China or most students taking Virtual College classes. He also mentioned a few reasons for the graduation rate.

First, Virtual College students don't complete class work at the same pace as traditional students. The second reason has to do with debt.

"On-campus students are what I call debt-aversive," Hammond said. "They don't like debt. ... Our students would rather work and go to school an extra year than to borrow money."

When asked about significant cuts that could come as a result of a possible state Supreme Court ruling in a K-12 lawsuit, Hammond said university officials have considered it.

They would deal with it like other cuts by looking for ways to be more efficient, increase growth, increase tuition and making cuts.

Cuts come last because if you're growing, you can't make cuts, he said.

"That's what we do when we look at reductions," he said. "I've never seen an organization I couldn't make more efficient."

Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, praised Hammond for maintaining the campus and developing a partnership with the community.

"There's a lot of pride in the Hays community for this college," Ostmeyer said.