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Frankfort Local News

CPE President Says Higher Tuition Won’t Make Up for Budget Cuts

The head of Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education foresees a dire future for higher education if the state can’t correct its budget woes soon.

CPE President Robert King told a budget subcommittee today that Governor Steve Beshear’s 6.4 percent budget cut on higher education will definitely mean higher tuition for college students. But another increase won’t be enough to fill the hole created by four years of budget cuts.

“But if we were to raise tuition seven percent for all students, full-time, part-time, in-state, out of state, graduate, undergraduate, etc. It would only produce sixty-one million dollars of revenue against one hundred and twenty to sixty million dollars of hole we have to fill,” King told the panel.

Those numbers are based on the CPE’s projections on university needs for building maintenance, faculty retention and operating expenses. King says those areas have either not been funded or have been severely cut in past years. King has one piece of good news for students. He says despite the budget cuts, CPE will not allow universities to increase tuition seven percent or more.

As part of his presentation, King pleaded with lawmakers to focus on education as a way to fix the state’s poverty problems. He said if the state funded higher education then budget drains like Medicare and jail funds would decrease.

“What I think this shows us is that we are expending our money and our public policies to the symptoms and now starting to seriously underfund the cure (of poverty),” he said.

Reduction of financial commitments or budget cuts has left universities unable to maintain buildings and retain faculty, much less make needed improvements, he told the committee.

The General Assembly has until April 10 to pass the next two-year budget

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Arts and Humanities Local News Politics

Higher Ed Chief Discusses Plan To Boost Graduation Rates

An ambitious plan for increasing the number of college graduates in Kentucky, while decreasing financial barriers was discussed in Frankfort Thursday.

Right now, 43 percent of college freshmen in Kentucky enter the university needing remediation.  And in this tough economy, even students who can handle the academics often find they can’t afford college.  The colleges and universities want to do more to help, says Council on Postsecondary Education President Robert King. 

“Using our resources in higher education to help support the achievement the mission of K-12.  And that mission, as you’ve heard Commissioner Holliday articulate, is to get every student college and or career ready upon graduation,” King told a legislative panel.

King outlined an ambitious plan that gets the universities more involved in GED and K-12 programs, including teacher development, internships and research, economic and community outreach programs.  He says the schools will have performance targets, and promises lawmakers will get frequent updates on the progress being made.

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Local News

New CPE Chief Begins Work

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

The new president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education is on the job.

After a nationwide search, the CPE hired Robert King, former chancellor of the State University of New York, as its new president. King, who headed an Arizona charitable foundation after leaving New York, had until April to report to work in Kentucky, but he’s already on the job.

“Governor Beshear had made it clear to me when I met with him in December, that the sooner I could get here, the better,” King said.

King says he’s been monitoring higher education developments in Kentucky since his hiring and plans to hit the ground running. His early arrival means he will be in the state when the 2009 legislative session resumes February 3rd.

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In-Depth News

CPE Selects New Leader

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

A nationwide search for a new president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education is over.

In September 2007, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Thomas Layzell retired. To fill the post until a permanent replacement was found, the council turned to Lexington lawyer Brad Cowgill, former Governor Ernie Fletcher’s budget director.

In April, the council voted to retain Cowgill as permanent president, a move that upset the state’s new governor, Steve Beshear. After Beshear complained Cowgill was hired without a legally-required national search, Cowgill resigned. Beshear applauded the move saying “it ends a very difficult situation for everybody.” “And allows us all to come together move forward, get a search committee up and really do a national search now and find a permanent president.”

Eight months later, the search is over. Forty of the 150 people who applied were given a serious look. The field was then narrowed to 10 and later to two. The finalists were Vermont State College Chancellor Robert Clarke and Robert King, the former chancellor of the New York State University System. In a unanimous vote, the council has chosen King.

“I appreciate search processes and know that you considered some really terrific candidates from around the country. So, I’m particularly honored that you thought I was worthy of this, King said.

The 61 year old King, who currently chairs a charitable foundation in Arizona, officially begins work April 1st.

“What I’ve discovered in the couple of years I’ve been away from higher ed is how much I miss it and how much I love what it can do for our country. And if I can be a small part of that, that’s what I’d like to commit the balance of my working life to, and so I’m thrilled to be here,” he said.

King says one of his major goals will be to build better bridges between the K-12 system and the universities.

“To help improve the learning outcomes for kids, so that when they come to the university or to the community colleges, they’re ready to go – I think can have an enormous impact. And I think higher education can help in that regard.”

Seconding the motion to hire King was former Governor Paul Patton, who championed higher education reform in 1997 and now serves on the CPE.

“This man has the background, the academic knowledge of the way the academy works, the political skills to get all of the institutions working together, to work with the governor, to work with the legislature, to pursue the goals of House Bill 1. I could not be more enthusiastic,” Patton said.

Also applauding King’s hiring is Governor Beshear:
“I feel very good about the process that the CPE went through and the search that they went through to find a nationally qualified person for this job,” he said. “And from everything I know about Mr. King and his background, he certainly meets the statutory requirements that we look for in the head of the CPE.”

Senate budget chairman Charlie Borders says he doesn’t yet know much about King, but hopes he’ll be a strong leader who opposes political interference with CPE affairs, “who can sit down with the administration, sit down with the legislature and convince them that they have a direction that’s good for the Council on the Postsecondary Education and lead this state.”

By law, the CPE president must make more than the highest paid public university president, which is $352,000. King’s contract includes an annual salary of $360,000, $40,000 for housing and a car.

King, who has a law degree from Vanderbilt University, has been married for 32 years. He and his wife, Karen, have four grown children.