Pitt State president after 19 cut: Kansas leaders lack 'interest in higher education'

Steve Scott
Steve Scott Courtesy Photo

When a public university in Kansas announced it was cutting 19 staff positions, its president put a portion of the blame on state politicians.

Pittsburg State University announced the cut on Thursday in a news release, citing stagnant state funding, increasing costs and declining enrollment.

President Steve Scott said in the release that the university and Kansas Board of Regents have advocated for addition state funding.

"Those efforts have clearly, and sadly, not resonated with the legislative leadership," Scott said. "Our employees shouldn't have to face the uncertainty that results from this stagnant funding."

"As we look ahead, we remain concerned about our state leaders' lack of interest in higher education and, ultimately, in the future of the state," Scott continued. "Our employees, our university and our community deserve better."

State funding is at the same level as it was in 2006, the release said. If state funding had kept pace with inflation since then, the university would have nearly $9 million more in its general fund budget.

The 19 positions cut are part of a long-term university cost reduction plan. The cuts have included 47 full-time positions — both support staff and faculty — and nearly $5 million since 2016, the release said.

Scott said donors and the community are invested in the university.

"They believe in us and have helped us move forward in recent years," he said. "If our political leaders would show the same interest in higher education that our local partners do, our entire state would benefit."