by Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Kansas News Service
Kansas State University is scaling back this year’s budget by millions of dollars after about 1,000 fewer students enrolled this fall compared to the previous year, creating a budget crunch.
The steep drop in tuition revenue is prompting the school to pull back a combined $12 million from its academic and administrative units. The university may adjust that amount later depending on spring enrollment.
In a letter to the K-State community, a university administrator said notice of the cuts has gone out to the university’s deans and other unit heads.
“Kansas State University is working to address the enrollment and budget situation,” wrote Cindy Bontrager, vice president for administration and finance.
The university plans to evaluate its budget process and hire a consultant to review enrollment strategies with the goal of attracting more students.
Brian Lindshield, president of the K-State Faculty Senate and an associate professor in the College of Human Ecology, said Wednesday on KCUR’s “Up To Date” that record student enrollment in recent years may have led university officials to pay less attention to risks that the tide might change.
“In about 2014 we had so much enrollment that we were putting students in hotels, and we had concerns over how we were going to handle it and about the quality of the experience we were providing,” Lindshield said. “I think that that led us to not be as focused, you know, maybe on this changing demographic and other sorts of pressures that were going to come.”
With an enrollment drop near 4 percent, K-State experienced the biggest decline this year among the six state universities. The K-State Collegian reported that it is the university’s steepest drop in three decades.
The Collegian revealed the impending budget cuts in an article published Monday, quoting Amit Chakrabarti, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, as saying the midyear financial loss would “decimate” his college.
Celia Llopis-Jepsen is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach her on Twitter @Celia_LJ. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.