Given the need to pay nearly 300 people more than $200,000 a year–and seven more than $500,000–the Kansas Board of Regents yielded to the inevitable and approved tuition and fee increases for all six public universities.
According to the Associated Press, full-time undergrads attending at the University of Kansas will see an increase in tuition and fees of about 3 percent. This will bring the cost of tuition plus fees to more than $5500 per semester. Tuition increases will be slightly lower at the other five campuses.
The University of Kansas has been particularly lavish in rewarding its employees. Some 110 of these making more than $200,000 a year are employed by the University of Kansas, and this figure does not include those affiliated with the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Two KU employees attracted a fair amount of attention. One was former KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. She received $511,341 in her capacity as ‘Special Advisor” this past school year, a year after stepping down as chancellor.
When the Lawrence Journal-World’s Joanna Hlavacek contacted Gray-Little, she came away with little useful information. “It is unclear exactly what Gray-Little has done in her role as special adviser,” wrote Hlavacek. “When reached via telephone, she would not answer any questions but simply referred the reporter to KU or the Board of Regents.”
Even the Kansas City Star editors chimed in, asking in their headline, “KU has been paying former Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little her $510K salary. For what, exactly?” The Star editors noted that Gray-Little windfall “has irked enough legislators that it might undercut the [Board of Regents’] efforts to gain more funding for student needs.”
This irking is useful. The median family income in Kansas is roughly $50,000. Taxpayers from these families are being asked to pay the ever increasing salaries of university administrators, few of whom share the values of those paying their salaries.
The second employee whose salary caught the public eye was that of KU Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger. In April, the Sentinel ran an article headlined, “Why Does Highest Paid State Employee Still Have a Job, Website Asks.” Zenger was hired to fix Kansas football, and the program is “sinking like the Titanic,” the site insisted.
KU got the message and fired Zenger with two years left on $700,000-plus annual deal. Zenger is now out of a job, and the taxpayers of Kansas are out a caboodle of money, slightly north of $1.4 million.
Not to worry, the students can help send Zenger and Gray-Little off with their golden umbrellas at only a 3 percent hike in their annual tuition.