Kansas regents name Scott Pittsburg State president

TOPEKA | The new president of Pittsburg State University said Friday that the economic recession is forcing higher education to make difficult decisions as revenues decline, but that the system will emerge stronger.

Steven Scott was introduced as the new president immediately after being hired by the Kansas Board of Regents to replace Tom Bryant, who retired after nine years. Scott will take office July 1. Currently, Scott serves as Pittsburg State's provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Legislators are pursuing cuts in the budget for the state's 2010 fiscal year, which also begins July 1. Pittsburg State is determining where to cut, Scott said.

"The decisions I've been making have been about the budget. We've been trying to buy ourselves time," Scott said. "The longer this lasts, the deeper it will be."

He said students and residents see the university as the vehicle for their hopes and dreams and the president is the face of those aspirations. Pittsburg State, known for its Gorilla mascot, had a fall 2008 enrollment of 7,127 students.

"I think I'm ready for that," Scott said.

The other finalists were Diana Carlin, a communications studies professor and former graduate school dean at the University of Kansas; Thomas Keon, dean of the business administration at the University of Central Florida in Orlando; and Fletcher Lamkin, a vice president at Dominican University of California in San Rafael.

Scott, 52, earned degrees from Pittsburg State and served as the dean of the college of education from 1999 to 2006.

Bryant is among three state university leaders retiring this year.

The regents have hired Kirk Schulz, 45, to replace Kansas State University President Joe Wefald. Schulz has been vice president for research and economic development at Mississippi State University.

Regents Chairwoman Donna Shank said a search committee is continuing to review applications to replace University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway, who is retiring. She said a decision is expected this summer.