Kansas State University’s new president wasted no time getting to work Tuesday, providing testimony to the Kansas House Committee on Higher Education Budget.

Dr. Richard Linton spoke to committee members about the university’s support for Gov. Laura Kelly’s proposal to hold tuition flat by increasing nearly $50 million worth of public-private scholarship funds to universities across the state. He also highlighted some of the ongoing needs for the university, which includes a backlog of $442 million in deferred maintenance for Mission Critical Facilities.

“It’s like getting on a treadmill, when you’re running at 3 and the treadmill is going at 6 and we’re just never going to catch up. This is a very important area as I think about it and move forward, I’m thinking about every potential resource we might be able to have to make a difference here to be able to help on the deferred maintenance component of our facilities,” he said.

Linton says K-State supports the governor’s proposal for Capital Renewal funding, calling it a great first step toward funding recurring dollars to address some of those needs.

“In order to be able to make these facilities, not only adaptable to new technologies, but to make these facilities less of a financial burden would actually cost more than what a newer building or a building that is repaired and renovated would cost,” he said.

Asked by one committee member how K-State can turn around trends of declining student enrollment, Linton said it comes down to showcasing K-State’s value.

“A big part of it is marketing and public relations and actually getting out there and being able to target market the value of Kansas State University. I think we can do a better job there and we’re working on that effort now,” he said.

Linton also spoke with committee members about the need to strengthen partnerships, including with community and tech colleges going forward.

Linton began his duties Monday.

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