Kansas Regents put off budget request for new KU medical school building

The Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday agreed that expansion of the Kansas University Medical Center was a top priority, but put off asking Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature for funding next session to help build a new medical education building.

Regent Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman urged her colleagues to “accept the request from KU for a little bit more time to develop the complexity of their offer and bring it back to us when they are ready.”

Earlier, KU had sought a new $5 million appropriation to help pay off a potential bond issue for the proposed $78 million medical education building. KU also expects to fund the project through a $10 million FICA refund, tuition dollars and private donations.

The current building, constructed in 1976, is “obsolete,” said Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the KU Medical Center. She also said the current building won’t meet accreditation standards.

The proposed new building will help KU climb up in national rankings of medical schools and increase the size of each year’s medical school class by 50 students to about 240, KU officials said.

“The Medical Education Building is the anchor component of the new master plan for KUMC,” said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

Last month, however, regents told KU officials that Brownback’s office wants the funding of the project to be nailed down further. They recommended KU continue discussions with Brownback about financing questions surrounding the project.

Atkinson said she was confident that the project will be recommended for approval in next year’s budget request by the regents to the governor.

In another budgetary move, the regents did approve forwarding a budget request for a $5 million annual appropriation for improvements to the Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The improvements will increase research and train the workforce needed to fill positions associated with growth of the animal health industry in the state and country, officials said.

By Scott Rothschild


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