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ESU Model Resonates with Kansas Lawmakers

Emporia State is building a new college experience from the ground up for its students — focusing on making strategic investments into the programs and courses that today’s students and Kansas businesses need. The ESU Model, which is action-oriented and data-driven, resonated with lawmakers in the Kansas Statehouse.

When the 2023 Kansas legislative session ended and a final budget passed, Emporia State University had received a record-breaking amount of funding in a single year — almost $11 million for the university and its forward-thinking plans. These funds are in addition to allocations to the Kansas Board of Regents shared among all KBOR universities.

“Emporia State University has focused on investing in the programs that students and the employers who hire them want and need,” said Kansas Rep. and Speaker of the House Dan Hawkins. “As legislators, working with our higher education institutions to deliver the best value to their students and graduates will go a long way toward building up a robust worker pool, something I hear from across all industries that they are in desperate need of. The Emporia State Model is about ‘right-sizing’ for the needs of students and businesses in Kansas and I believe it is truly the way forward for all higher education institutions in our state.”

Specifically, Emporia State University secured the following in the 2024 Kansas budget:

  • $9 million for the Emporia State investment model
  • Two budget requests from Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly:
    • $1.1 million for academic programming in the new Cybersecurity Center
    • $510,000 for SMaRT Kansas 21: Science and Math Recruitment of Teachers in Kansas
  • Bonding authority for construction of the new nursing building and wellness center

“Emporia State is taking our role as an economic engine for our region and state seriously. ESU prepares students for the jobs Kansas needs most — teachers, nurses and career-ready graduates for Kansas businesses,” said ESU President Ken Hush. “Of our undergraduate students 88% are from Kansas, 80% stay in Kansas after graduation – 87% when you include the Kansas City metro area.

“We appreciate all the state support, and we assured legislators that we would be accountable for the tax dollars we are investing. We are optimizing our current assets to uniquely elevate programs that serve students, our community and the state of Kansas.”

The overall result, Hush added, is an enhanced and more efficient university asset for the State of Kansas.

Sharing with legislators changes already made at Emporia State and where the university is headed was key, according to Kansas Sen. Jeff Longbine, whose district includes Emporia.

“The budget enhancement awarded to Emporia State University this session is a demonstration of the support that the Legislature has for the leadership and direction of ESU,” Longbine said. “We are excited to see the results that will enhance student learning and workforce development.”

Emporia State will also share in funding allocated to the Kansas Board of Regents. This includes:

  • Academic playbooks to improve student success and outcomes;
  • Continued state investment in cybersecurity and IT infrastructure;
  • Continued state investment in demolition of obsolete facilities;
  • Continued state investment in facility renewal;
  • Increases to state scholarship programs; and
  • State employee pay adjustments.

KBOR uses formulas to divide its systemwide allocation among the state universities.

“We know that Kansas lawmakers are our partners as Emporia State University continues to move forward,” said Greg Schneider, ESU executive director for government affairs. “We appreciate their support of our efforts. And we look forward to sharing our results and working with them for some time to come.”