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Undergraduate Chat with Kirk

This is the official chat transcript from September 14, 2010. It reads top-to-bottom.

Jonathan Sill asks:In these trying economic times we find ourselves in, being fiscally conservative is key for K-State to remain a great opportunity for current and prospective students gain the necessary education to prosper in life. My question is that given the budget shortfalls of various departments, the seemingly constant decreases in funding by the state, and raising of tuition yet again; why do we need a new welcome center? According to the article in the Collegian the proposed renovation of the East Stadium would run in the neighborhood of 17 million dollars and that fundraising for this project will become your primary fundraising goal. With the need to renovate the East Stadium not withstanding, are there not other buildings on campus that garner a higher need to be renovated, perhaps Kedzie Hall? Are there not greater concerns that K-State needs to be addressing? Perhaps the lack of enough housing or parking for on campus residents, I’m quite certain that 17 million dollars could go along way toward building a new dorm or a few parking garages which will ensure K-States ability to be able to sustain a growing student population and remain at the forefront of higher education in the State of Kansas. Thank you.

Kirk Schulz Great question - and yes, there are many structures on campus that need to be renovated. However, since state funds are declining, much of this work will be done with private dollars raised from K-State alumni and corporate partners. The welcome center project will be a great demo project which will show what we can do in terms of renovating an older, historic structure. This will simply be the first of what I hope are a significant number of renovation projects on our campus so that we take great looking historic buildings and equip them with state of the art classrooms, research laboratories, and offices. There will be a lot more coming out about this over the next academic year - including a prioritized list of building and renovations priorities at K-State.

Matt Marchesini asks:What has been the most difficult issue that you have resolved in your one year here?

Kirk Schulz My two martini night was following the "snow storm" that rocked campus this past winter. As you probably know, I elected to keep campus open. While I believe it was the right decision - it was certainly not the most popular decision I ever made!

Hannah Miller asks:How do hope KSU will change/improve in your time as President and what is being done to make sure that it is accomplished?

Kirk Schulz I really want to see our national visibility raised during my tenure as President. K-State has a lot to offer - and I want to be sure that the country knows about the excellence of our educational experience, our faculty members, and of course our great students. The roadmap to this will be K-State 2025 - which is still in process but which should help to map out ways in which we will raise our national visibility - and in turn - make your degree from K-State worth more!

Natalie Rauth asks:What are your thoughts on K-State hosting a triathlon at Tuttle Creek in the spring? If this idea were to come to fruition, which event would you take part in? Swimming, biking, running, or all three?

Kirk Schulz I am such an athletic stud, it is hard for me to know which event to participate in. I do think a triathlon would be a great thing for us to do in Manhattan - and I would probably participate in the running part - especially if the end point was somewhere in Aggieville.

Hannah Hoisington asks:As a senior about to graduate, would you suggest going directly to graduate school, or getting experience in the professional world first?

Kirk Schulz Great question. I would suggest going to graduate school right away - preferably at K-State! It is very difficult to "go back" to school once you start into the workplace - because you get used to the income from a regular job, and it is tough to go back to being a poor student! Additionally, working a 50 hour per week job, and then coming home to do homework is also very difficult. It can certainly be done - but my advice is to go the graduate school route directly after finishing your BS/BA work.

Annie Oliver asks:Have you been pulled over for talking on your cell phone and or texting?

Kirk Schulz No, I haven't. I bought a Bluetooth "hands-free" set to use (although you still have to look at your phone to dial a number!) for talking on the phone, and if I try and text I will run off the road. So, I am pretty good about being careful on this one. If I do get pulled over (and I have twice in Manhattan) it is for slightly(!) exceeding the posted speed limit!

Matt Marchesini asks:How is living in Manhattan compared to the other places you have lived?

Kirk Schulz The Little Apple is a great place to live. I grew up in the Tidewater area in Virginia - with several million people - so an urban environment. When I went to Virginia Tech, I couldn't believe that people left their cars and houses unlocked during the day! I have lived in Norfolk, VA; Blacksburg, VA; Grand Forks, ND; Hancock, MI; Starkville, MS, and now Manhattan, KS. I like being able to get anywhere in Manhattan in 10 minutes, and like some of our shopping opportunities (they know me well in Best Buy). While I love the Midwest, I do like our more temperate climate compared with Michigan and North Dakota. Of course, none of these places had Soo Long Saloon, Coco Bolo's, or Aggieville in general - part of what makes the Little Apple so great!

Natalie Rauth asks:Name some words people might use to describe your best dance moves.

Kirk Schulz According to my wife of 23 years - "worst dancer in the world", "no moves whatsoever", and "incredibly uncoordinated - even for an engineer". Does that help?

Taylor Pankratz asks:How excited are you for this year's football team, and would a bowl game do for our university from your standpoint?

Kirk Schulz A bowl game for K-State would be a tremendous accomplishment for Coach Snyder and our football team. If I look at our schedule, I can pretty easily come up with 7 or 8 games I think we will win (and if I gave my predications the athletic department would NOT be happy) - so I am confident that a bowl game (preferably in a nice warm locale) is on the horizon this season. Any time we can be on national TV - it is great publicity for our university.

Raven Skinner asks:President Schulz, If you could give all students at K-State one piece of advice for either now or their future, what would it be?

Kirk Schulz Be involved. Be involved. Be involved. Nuff said?

Taylor Pankratz asks:What are your skills as a golfer, and what are the chances you'd play a round at Colbert with a student?

Kirk Schulz I totally suck at golf - we are talking 120 on 18 holes - and that was on a wimpy, flat golf course. At Colbert, I would have to play a hole - have a beverage - play a hole - have another beverage - and after a few holes, I wouldn't care about my score anyway. So, the chances are not very good ....

Kelly VanCleave asks:I know people take different lengths of time to adjust, but when are we, as newcomers, expected to be adjusted? I lost my best friend in a car accident 10 days before I came to Manhattan, so that will obviously affect my time length, but I’ve been here a month and it still feels just like the first week.

Kirk Schulz I am sorry for the loss of your friend. It shouldn't take too long to be adjusted to campus, Manhattan, and K-State. It is very important to find a "peer" group on campus - with other people with similar interests. We have 400+ different campus organizations - and there truely is something for everyone's interests. If you need to assistance in finding the right group to be engaged in - send me a note at kirks@k-state.edu and I will see what I can do to help.

Ashley Joerger asks:Do you feel like being on Twitter and Facebook has helped you connect with more students?

Kirk Schulz Social networking is really amazing. As I travel throughout the country, I meet K-Staters all the time who will ask "How was dinner at Cox Bros BBQ last night?" - which they got from my Twitter and Facebook postings. I do believe that it does let people know what I am doing for K-State, and how I spend my time. I do want students to know that I am approachable, and I do think that through Facebook and Twitter - this helps "break the ice" a bit. It is also fun to do!

Annie Oliver asks:What is your favorite Disney movie of all time?

Kirk Schulz When I was growing up it was easily 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - I just loved the sense of adventure. As I am older, I probably like "Aladdin" the best - great story, great music, and a fun adventure - and who could love Robin Williams as the Genie.

Kyle Reynolds asks:What Dean searches are taking place this year? How are students involved in that process?

Kirk Schulz We have 3 dean searches which will take place during the upcoming year. Currently, we are in the final stages of the Dean search for the College of Agriculture, and have three outstanding candidates who are interviewing for this position. Provost April Mason will be starting searches soon for the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Business Administration. Students need to be very involved with the selection of these leaders by participating in their on-campus interviews and giving feedback to the search committee on their impressions. Students can also email directly the search committee chair with impressions and comments. Your impressions are important and critical - so as I said earlier - be involved. Finally, I am amazed at the outstanding talented individuals who would like to work at K-State - so the future is very bright in these upcoming Dean searches.

Travis Altenhofen asks:What are your thoughts on improving the Salina and Olathe campus?

Kirk Schulz It is important that we really start thinking about K-State as a three campus system - Manhattan, Olathe, and Salina as three distinctly different campus locations who are all part of the K-State family. In Salina, we need to continue to add degree programs to expand the opportunities for students there in areas such as business, humanities, human ecology, and the sciences. At Olathe, we are still considering what degree programs we want to offer as we finish construction on our first building. Regardless of location, we want students at all three campus to feel like "K-Staters", and not feel that they missed out because they didn't attend classes on the Manhattan campus.

Bryant Kniffin asks:Where do we stand with the possible renovations of bramlage coliseum and Bill Snyder Stadium?

Kirk Schulz This summer K-State received quite the scare concerning membership in a BCS athletic conference - particularly the future of the Big 12. This has been "put to rest" now, and we are looking forward to a long and productive relationship with the 9 other schools in the Big 12. However, it is important that we ensure that we have competitive athletic facilities with these other schools, and we are considering how best to continue to improve facilities for football and men's and women's basketball. We are also in active discussions with interested donors in potential building projects for athletics.

Heather Houchen asks:What are your thoughts on the current happenings between our Greek community and the RCPD? And, how do you think this will effect future enrollment?

Kirk Schulz This has been a tough issue. It is tremendously important that K-State students conduct themselves appropriately at all times - whether they are consuming alcohol, at a party, or attending church. As you can probably tell, I enjoy a beer or mixed drink myself - so I am not "anti-partying" by any stretch. However, when our students all congregate, consume too much alcohol, and then get into vocal disagreements with local law enforcement, it creates a volatile situation. My plan is to work with our excellent Greek system and our local police to ensure that our students can congregate, party and have fun - but in an appropriate and safe manner.

Tyler Sharp asks:What steps have you been taking to move the K-State 2025 plan forward?

Kirk Schulz We are still in the middle stages of the K-State 2025 planning process which seeks to move K-State to one of the Top 50 Public Research Universities in the next 15 years. We will announce our major thematic areas for the visionary plan during October, and we will be actively seeking input and suggestions on these as we develop our full plan. It is fun to dream, think big, and look ahead!

Annie Oliver asks:I will be graduating after this year from K-State and I would still like to be involved with the University while I am off campus. How can I help K-State as a recent grad?

Kirk Schulz Regardless of where you live - get involved with the K-State Alumni Association. If there is not an active chapter where you live - start one. Come back to campus as often as you can, look out for students who would benefit from a K-State educational experience, hire K-Staters at your workplace, and send back some funds to your department or other area of passion on campus when you can. Finally, wear Purple with pride and cheer loudly when we beat the "other university" on the athletic field and in the classroom!

Luke Fangman asks:With now being the University President for over a year now, what was your biggest accomplishment so far, and how do you hope to expand that success in the next year?

Kirk Schulz Despite a tough budget year in Topeka, I feel really good about year #1. The biggest accomplishments would include raising $90.1M from alumni & friends, nearly $150M in research funding, and pretty good morale on campus despite 3 years with no salary increases.

Heath Rath asks:President Schulz, What is the status of the new Foundation Building?

Kirk Schulz The new Foundation building has been put on indefinite hold. Given the state of the economy, I don't see this happening anytime soon. Fred Cholick, former Dean of the College of Agriculture and new KSU Foundation President, is working on this with the KSU Foundation Executive Committee.

Britton Drown asks:There has been discussion of moving the journalism school over to Dole Hall. What do you know about this discussion and would you support the idea?

Kirk Schulz Dole Hall is a great facility, and Jeff Morris, our new VP for Marketing and Communications, is working with our journalism faculty to involve more students in the university communications area. However, Dole Hall in its current configuration cannot accomodate the entire Journalism program. Thus, we will be looking at expansion options in Dole Hall as part of our prioritized building and project list on campus this semester (see earlier post about welcome center).

Hannah Miller asks:What is your favorite building on campus and why?

Kirk Schulz I have lots of favorite spots on campus - but here are three. First, being on the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium when we have a full house (50,000+K-Staters) all cheering - it is hard to beat that. Second is the Tadman Board Room in the Alumni Association - it is a beautiful room looking over the old Memorial stadium. Finally, the "Harry Potter" room in Hale Library - I can hear the "echos" of students from the early years at K-State there.

Travis Altenhofen asks:What are your predictions for the mens basketball season?

Kirk Schulz Big 12 Champions and a Final Four team - and a promise that Coach Frank Martin won't stare me down at my State of the University address ....

Benjamin Fallin asks:I graduated from K-State once with a degree in electronic media production (I'm back now to finish my 2nd degree thanks to the crazy economic times) the question is related to the J school and what you have planned for it in your 2025 vision? One thing I'd love to see is for K-State to become a leader in motion graphic design (think special effects) as that's the field I work in and after being out in the real world I see a great need for education in this field. Any ideas about that specifically or just your J school update plans?

Kirk Schulz I am going to have to rely on our excellent faculty in the J school to help with this. In my mind, if we are going to be a Top 50 school, we are going to need to be at the "cutting edge" in all of our programs - and I will need all of our campus to help identify what this will look like.

Matt Marchesini asks:What are your thoughts on todays Newsweek article that promotes K-State as one of the most desirable large schools in the U.S.?

Kirk Schulz All of us know about the excellence of our school, but it is great to see a national publication with the readership of Newsweek to recognize that we are excellent choice for students! I might just have to mention this at my upcoming Regents meeting - normally I just show a scoreboard shot from the K-State/KU football game last year ....

Steve Arnold asks:I'm the business manager for Cadence, K-State's oldest men's a cappella group. This year we're wanting to represent K-State at competitions. Any suggestions for ways we can book more local performances to help us raise money?

Kirk Schulz Let campus know you are available, what you can do, and how much you are going to charge. A nice ad in the Collegian would be an excellent start. I would be happy to help - drop me a note at kirks@k-state.edu.

Melvin Fatimehin asks:I hear that Manhattan is going to be considered a city pretty soon and money from the government will be coming our way. Would this effect K-State? If so would any of it be used for public transportation through the Manhattan area?

Kirk Schulz We need a public transportation system badly in Manhattan. The biggest positive from "city" designation would be some federal funds for a bus system - which would be great for students, faculty, and staff. Just imagine a beautiful purple bus - so much better looking that the Pat Bosco purple jeep!

Julianna Falls asks:What kinds of opportunties do you see K-State and/or the state of Kansas, offering more international networking, career planning?

Kirk Schulz It is important that K-State continue to develop as an more "international " campus, with more opportunities for our students - both in Manhattan and abroad. Some of these initiatives will have to wait until the economy recovers and we receive additional state funds to appropriately fund these activities.

Nathaniel Shriver asks:Manhattan is seeking ways to become a more bike friendly city, What are some steps K-state can take, or will take to promote this healthy habit among students, thus decreasing parking congestion?

Kirk Schulz We enjoy wonderful "town-gown" relationships. I think we need to continue to work with our local elected officials on ways to promote bike awareness and bike paths in town. I would start with our own SGA, and move from there.

Gabriel Grant asks:Changes that help the most aren't always the most popular. What changes are coming or do you see coming in the future to help tackle our budget problems?

Kirk Schulz It is important that we consolidate services at K-State to avoid redundancy across campus. Generally, everyone is in favor of consolidation of services - as long it effects the "guy down the hall" - and not me. We will continue to look for ways to use our resources as wisely as possible.