higher education | KCUR

higher education

WICHITA, Kansas — Faculty at state colleges in Kansas find themselves armed with fresh ammunition in their ongoing plea for more pay.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s budget wish list is long: boosting spending on higher education, public safety and human services. She'd aim to cut some taxes, but look to add new ones for streaming video and music services.

Not surprisingly, the $7.8 billion plan is getting a mixed response from the Republicans who control the Legislature.

Courtesy Victoria Hammond

States can get a substantial return on investment if they help single mothers in college access child care, support services and financial aid, according to a new study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

But even though about 10% of all undergraduates in Kansas and Missouri are single mothers, neither state makes significant investments in helping them persist to graduation. 

Buzzy phrases like “regenerative agriculture” and “precision farming” are gaining traction among younger farmers looking to produce more sustainably. But implementing newer practices can require education and training.

Some schools in Nebraska are embracing the interest in specialized agriculture degrees, and want to make them more accessible to students across the region.

Waiel Turner, 20, was not planning on going to college. He thought about entering the U.S. Air Force or becoming a police officer for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. 

Enrolling at Harris-Stowe State University was strictly happenstance.

In 2017, he accompanied a friend to the campus in midtown St. Louis where she was registering for classes. An admissions counselor told Turner he should enroll. Two days later, Turner became a college student. 

Turner said it is the family environment that makes Harris-Stowe home for him. Like many historically black colleges and universities, Harris-Stowe is struggling to keep its tight-knit family of students and staff together in the face of shaky finances and relative lack of state resources. 

Segment 1: Some institutions of higher education use tracking software to assess prospective applicants.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

NEODESHA, Kansas — Three hundred middle and high schoolers filed into their school auditorium last week in the small, southeast Kansas town of Neodesha, uncertain why they’d been called there.

They left cheering and hugging. Some of the older students were teary-eyed.

College tuition and fees need no longer hold back graduates of this manufacturing community, about halfway between Wichita, Kansas, and Joplin, Missouri. A wealthy donor hoping to turn around the fortunes of his dwindling hometown — population 2,300 — will foot those costs for the next 25 years, and possibly decades beyond that.

Every college in Kansas is more expensive today than it was a decade ago.

Tuition and fees haven’t gone up every year — this year, the Kansas Board of Regents convinced most of the state’s universities to hold tuition flat — but that doesn’t change how expensive college has become.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

When Dan Hoyt started graduate school at the University of Kansas in 2016, he knew he had anxiety and depression. He worried about being able to find a job after graduation. And, sometimes, he couldn’t get through his assigned reading.

“When you have anxieties, that gets impossible,” he said. “I'll think about the same things over and over and over again.”

But when he reached out to KU’s counseling services, he was told he had to wait five months before he could get an appointment with a therapist at the Lawrence campus. And getting there from KU’s Overland Park campus, where he took classes, complicated things.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

After counting out the last in a series of chest compressions, Harry Painter Jr. sets up a nebulizer and begins piping oxygen into his patient’s lungs.

“Mr. Jones, you scared us there. How are you feeling?” he asks. The lifelike mannequin blinks back. 

Everything around Painter looks exactly as it would in a hospital, but this is a simulation room at St. Louis Community College’s new health care facility on the Forest Park campus.

For decades, a university education meant students had to load up on math, history and English courses. Now, Kansas universities are slashing those general education requirements so more students can graduate on time and have more room for classes in their major.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri students spending more money to earn degrees want to know they’re making a sound investment in their future. That’s why college administrators have started steering them toward in-demand professions like education and nursing, where they’re all but guaranteed jobs. 

It’s a pathway to get students to and through college with less debt when they graduate. But some students and professors say Missouri’s colleges and universities still have an obligation to provide a well-rounded liberal arts education, and are tired of having to defend their majors every time state lawmakers propose another round of cuts.

MANHATTAN, Kansas — Millennials get blamed for killing off sports, drinks and entire industries. Those millennials — and their Gen Z successors — have also given rise to a new word: adulting.

Aging folks from the baby boom or Generation X enjoy ridiculing today's college students when those younger people can't change a tire or wash their clothes without turning to Mom or Dad.

David Kovaluk / St. Louis Public Radio

On any given weekday, University of Missouri student Jack Hale is working six to eight hours and dashing to class in between. 

“I wake up a little after five and I do not stop until 11 p.m. most days,” Hale says. Between a full load of classes and two jobs taking up nearly 40 hours a week, he barely gets enough sleep.

Avery Gott

The Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees race, which is non-partisan and typically quiet, has been highly contentious this year. Six candidates, including two incumbents, are running for three open spots on the board of the $150 million community college.

Student enrollment is trending down due to low unemployment in the county, leading the school to rely on income from property taxes for 65% of its budget.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Rachel Shriver is set to graduate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City next year but she’s already thinking about how her two kids are going to pay for college a decade from now. 

She’s had a tough path to this point: She had her first kid when she was young and most of her family never made it to college. “I'm just hoping to have a better life with my kids … that’s the whole reason I’m in school,” Shriver said.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas The road to democracy is paved in donuts.

At least that’s the case if you dropped by Washburn University’s Memorial Union for lunch on a recent afternoon, followed the “free donuts” sign and blaring rock music down to the lower level, where there were not just boxes of glazed temptation, but smiling faces holding out electronic tablets.

Jamie Hobbs / KCUR 89.3

No one can accuse University of Missouri President Mun Choi of lacking bold aspirations or high expectations for the newly launched NextGen Precision Health Initiative.

“It is the most important and the largest project in the history of the UM system,” he said recently on KCUR’s Up to Date. “This is going to be a game-changer when it comes to developing life-saving treatments.”

Segment 1: UM System President Mun Choi speaks to the impact of enrollment, funding and a new health initiative across campuses.

The University of Missouri System recently launched a new health initiative, which President Choi says is "the most important and the largest project in the history of the UM System." President Choi says university enrollment is steady right now, and that the Columbia campus has recovered from the tumult of 2015. He does note, however, that state funding this year is the same as it was 1998, even though there are 40% more students. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

With college costs rising every year, Missouri’s A+ Scholarship Program is a bargain – 50 hours of tutoring in exchange for two free years of community college.

College access advocates, however, argue that the money isn’t going to the students who need it most.

“We know there are people who utilize A+ who come from families that make $100,000 or $200,000 a year,” said Karissa Anderson, the advocacy director for the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis.

To get the best college experience, live on campus.

Kansas junior college football plays in the big time these days.

The Jayhawk Community College Conference made a key change to its player eligibility rules three years ago that drew blue-chip players in from out of state.

The level of play shot up almost overnight, transforming at least one team from a perennial doormat to a national contender.

Seg. 1: Photojournalism | Seg. 2: Student Loan Debt

Jul 1, 2019

Segment 1: A difficult image re-ignites debate over ethics in photography.

In a recent photograph, a migrant from El Salvador lies face down in water alongside his small daughter. The two have drowned on their quest to enter the United States. The image is part of ongoing debate about what it means to document responsibly.

  • Keith Greenwood, associate professor, University of Missouri School of Journalism

Segment 2: What Kansas Citians would do if their student-loan debt disappeared.

Seg. 1: Housing Study | Seg. 2: Sign Language

Jun 27, 2019

Segment 1: National perspective on affordable housing in Kansas City.

As new households form, additional housing stock isn't keeping pace, studies show. Meanwhile, rent is rising faster than inflation. It's a nationwide problem, but people are really feeling it in Kansas City.

  • Chris Herbert, managing director, Harvard Joint Centers For Housing Studies

Segment 2: American Sign Language finally counts as a major at the University of Kansas. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

The Kansas Board of Regents pressured state university officials to rethink hiking tuition, and the schools did just that.

In-state tuition for undergraduates at all state campuses will be flat or reduced after the regents approved revised rates Wednesday. Though some graduate and out-of-state students will see modest tuition increases.

Regents Chair Dennis Mullin thanked university officials for scaling back their tuition proposals, which he said comes with “punishment and pain.”

Segment 1: Candidates for 3rd District at-Large discuss plans for Kansas City

Missouri Rep. Brandon Ellington and Rev. Wallace Hartsfield talked about their approach to reduce crime east of Troost, provide access to education and jobs, and downtown tax incentives.  

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For more than 100 years, Eudora had a weekly newspaper.

“We were able to have a sports reporter, somebody that would come out when we had a structure fire and report on it,” said Mayor Tim Reazin, who moved to Eudora in 1997. “We had somebody that sat through the city commission meetings with us.”

But since 2004, more than 1,800 newspapers have folded, a third of them in rural communities. Eudora residents lost their paper in 2008. Reazin says the result is citizens are less informed – and starved for coverage.

Advice For High School Graduates

May 22, 2019

Graduation season is upon us, which means celebration and cliché advice. But a lot of the age-old wisdom doesn't quite ring true in today's changing world. Hear about the helpful and not-so-helpful nuggets doled out to high school seniors. Plus, Kansas Citians share their own tips.

Guests:

FILE PHOTO / Chris Neal for the Kansas News Service

Rethink those planned tuition hikes. That’s the word from the Kansas Board of Regents, which is considering tuition proposals from universities not long after lawmakers approved a state funding boost meant to hold down student costs.

 

Regent Mark Hutton, a former state representative himself, said lawmakers won’t be happy to see tuition rise after adding around $30 million for higher education in the state budget.

 

For nine weeks, Zyrie Berry-Henricks has been meeting with four other University of Kansas students to try to answer the question: What does it mean to be a man?

It’s part of KU’s Men’s Action Project, a 10-week program where male students discuss masculinity — both healthy and toxic.

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