To faculty and staff,
This is the first edition of what I plan to make a regular newsletter. Many of you have said you’d like more frequent and comprehensive communication about plans, goals and other news that affects the school and all of us who work and learn here.
This newsletter, along with scheduled “Dean’s update” meetings, will help me share information with you. Hopefully you've already received a notice about the next meeting, which will be on Sept. 9. I hope you’ll make time in your schedule, and the schedules of your staff, to attend.
The latest on funding
Always near the top of everyone’s mind is the state of our budget and funding.
We’ve been preoccupied with declining state funding the last year or so, and the 2014 legislative session brought better news for our campus than the session before, as we did not receive a reduction in state funds. All of that is good news, although declining state revenues may result in unplanned cuts and decrease the likelihood the request just submitted to the Board of Regents will be implemented.
KU’s current request to the Board of Regents includes $4.9 million for the Wichita campus. I don’t have to tell many of you that our faculty and staff are doing extraordinary work to make our last class expansion (from 8 to 28 first- and second-year students) a reality.
That was accomplished without any increase in state funding, and without substantially increasing our faculty. But to sustain that growth, we need new permanent state funds. This request does just that by requesting $2.4 million beginning in fiscal year 2016 to support our current class size. The other $2.5 million was requested for fiscal year 2017 to further expand the class size to 65 students.
Plans for future expansion
The further expansion would allow all our students to begin in Wichita and finish in Wichita. Students would no longer begin in Kansas City and have to relocate to Wichita for the last two years of school.
Another important step toward the consideration of further expansion of our campus is a space assessment that’s currently underway. A design/architectural firm visited Wichita last month, as part of a comprehensive study to evaluate facilities in both Wichita and Kansas City. The firm is helping to assess our current educational space and make recommendations on what types of educational space would be needed if the class size expands.
Our top 10 national rank
Expansion and all that comes with it is exciting to think about, but it cannot be done without new state funds. We already have so much to be proud of though. You may not be aware that the KU School of Medicine–Wichita ranks No. 6 in the entire country for the percentage of primary care physicians we produce.
This is an accomplishment we should all celebrate, particularly in light of the acute shortage of primary care physicians Kansas faces. Each of you plays a part in making it possible for our campus to achieve and maintain such distinction. I hope you will share news of this achievement with friends and colleagues in the community.
I appreciate all you do, and with this newsletter I want to not only keep you informed, but also highlight accomplishments across our campus.
I welcome your input, suggestions, and contributions.
Dean Garold Minns, M.D.