Fort Hays State University’s new Center for Applied Technology and Sculpture left an impression on Joshua Svaty.
Svaty, an Ellsworth native and candidate for the Democratic nomination for Kansas governor, toured the campus Thursday morning.
“What struck me after visiting is particularly in the CATS hall, how much of that felt like a technical college, but advanced,” he said after his tour.
CATS, opened last fall, houses the departments of Industrial Technology, Technology and Engineering Education and Sculpture. It includes labs for CAD and STEM classes, as well as woodworking, metalworking, power and energy, robotics, construction management, and studios for sculpture and metal foundry.
Svaty said after the tour he would like to learn more about FHSU’s technical education.
“I’m very curious about just what they are teaching there and why it’s different than a technical college, and why kids are clearly choosing to spend the extra money to come here and get the education versus going to a technical college,” he said.
During his hour-long tour with Admissions Counselor Caroline Tatro, Svaty also asked about FHSU’s tuition.
“Fort Hays has a couple of things before you even step foot on campus you’re paying attention to,” he said, the main one being tuition.
“Everyone in the state is talking about it. Tuition rates in general across the country are going up and everyone’s asking the question is four-year college appropriate for everyone and should they be saddled with so much debt,” he said.
“Fort Hays in many ways has managed to thread that needle and is attracting a ton of people because of it,” Svaty said.
Tatro led the candidate and campaign staff member Ana Hand, an FHSU alumnus, through the CATS center, Albertson, Tomanek and Hammond halls and Forsyth Library before concluding in the Memorial Union, where Svaty chatted with FHSU Young Democrats President John Colclazier.
As he strolled through the campus and joined Colclazier at a table to help students register to vote, students and even faculty and staff walked by without offering any recognition.
Valerie Brown-Kuchera, faculty development specialist, greeted him and talked with Svaty for a few moments in Tomanek Hall, but was the only person to approach him.
That didn’t seem to bother Svaty, however.
“It’s early, which is fine,” he said, also acknowledging college students are focused on their studies, especially at this point in the spring semester.
“I would have been hard-pressed to recognize any of my elected officials when I was in college, and not just the candidates who are aspiring to be elected officials,” he said.
In the spring 2018 Kansas Speaks survey conducted by FHSU’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs, Svaty was ranked 10th in recognition of all 19 gubernatorial candidates running at the time of the survey. He received a 51.6-percent positive rating in the same survey, second only to Sen. Laura Kelly.