Posts tagged with Kansas University

iCompose: Student uses smartphone to make music

Kansas University music composition student Jason Charney’s latest piece doesn’t make music using traditional instruments such as horns, violins and pianos. Instead, he uses his iPhone and a computer to generate sounds.

When performing his piece “Compass,” Charney will at times shake the phone, raise it high above his head, spin it and adjust levels on the touch screen. All of the actions cause different sounds.

“I’m very interested in interactive music,” said the senior from Overland Park.

While he enjoys composing this electronic music, with its synthesized sound and shattering glass effects, he’s composed classical music, too.

Charney has taken three courses in electronic music from the KU School of Music’s specialist in the area, Kip Haaheim, an associate professor of music composition.

“He doesn’t get caught up in the technology,” Haaheim said. “He uses the technology effectively, but he never loses sight of the art.”

“The technology” involves a lot of software development, Haaheim said. Charney was able to find the basic programming structure that allowed the iPhone to interact with the computer from another user in the small community of people interested in this kind of music, Haaheim said.

But most of the software necessary for the performance he had to create himself. Charney has found himself on the cutting edge of the field, his professor said.

“It’s not like something that’s commercially available like Garage Band,” Haaheim said. “This goes way beyond that.”

Charney said he’s performed the piece with the iPhone in an Apple store in Chicago, and it’s attracted more attention than he thought. As for his future, he’s open to a number of different pathways.

“If I can make a living making music, I’ll be happy,” he said.

That may be easier today than it was in years past, Haaheim said. In addition to opportunities in academia and the film industry, today’s video game developers are paying for original music, too.

“They put some real dollars into the production of the music and generally put out some high-quality stuff,” he said.

And from a professor’s standpoint, working with a motivated and intelligent student like Charney isn’t an opportunity that comes along that often.

“You get a student like this once every 10 years,” Haaheim said. “He’s a delight.”

By Andy Hyland


KU student seeking passage of Kansas bill allowing veterans to pay in-state tuition rate at universities

A Kansas University student and Marine Corps veteran believes recent changes to the GI Bill are unfair to veterans who attend public universities as out-of-state residents.

And Sara Sneath, a KU junior who qualifies as an in-state resident, is asking the Kansas Legislature next session to pass a bill that would allow all honorably discharged veterans who served at least 36 months on active duty to be treated as in-state residents.

“It’s just overwhelming to think what this person sacrificed, and for their benefits to be cut off in any way, it’s just very unfortunate,” said Sneath, who retired as a Marine corporal and served as a consulate guard. “It shouldn’t happen.”

She’s been working with Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, and his staff to draft a bill. Arizona passed a similar law last year.

Sneath, a member of the KU Collegiate Veterans Association, said the change is necessary because the recent Post-9/11 GI Bill Congress passed that took effect this year removed a previous cap per credit hour for how much the GI Bill would pay. That is helpful for some veterans studying in expensive programs like engineering and business, but Sneath said it hurts out-of-state students because now their GI Bill benefits only cover them at the in-state rate, putting them on the hook for the difference.

And she said any grants or scholarships the out-of-state student veterans receive for tuition and fees could be deducted from their overall benefits.

“Those two factors are just killing out-of-state students, and they’re going to leave,” said Sneath, who is studying journalism, sociology and Spanish.

She hopes if Kansas passes a bill similar to Arizona, it could also make the state’s universities more attractive to veterans who would be considered out-of-state residents.

Sneath said many veterans originally enlisted the military because they had limited options for college and were expecting higher education benefits once they finished, plus a majority of younger veterans now also have served one or more combat tours in Iraq or Afghanistan that were dangerous and put them away from their families for an extended period of time.

“I just don’t think that veterans’ benefits should be cut,” she said. “Find another way to do this.”

By George Diepenbrock


Pay raises approved for some KU workers; housing vote to come

Members of the Kansas Board of Regents approved pay raises for two groups of Kansas University employees on Wednesday, and one member praised universities for keeping their room-and-board rates below the national average.

Regent Dan Lykins said he appreciated that none of the universities new rate proposals were above $8,000, given the national average of $8,200.

“Keep up your good work in being below average in that area,” he said.

KU’s room-and-board proposal would increase the yearly rate for a typical double occupancy room by $178, from $7,080 to $7,258, which equals 2.5 percent.

Some regents questioned the reasoning behind the two highest percentage increase requests: Pittsburg State’s 4 percent increase and Kansas State’s 3.5 percent increase.

Diane Duffy, the regents’ vice president for finance and administration, said the larger increase requests were related to debt payments that needed to be made to fund older improvements. At Pittsburg State, for example, she said, half of the increase was scheduled to pay off debt, while the remaining 2 percent was necessary to cover operations.

Regents are scheduled to vote on whether to accept the university rate proposals at their next monthly meeting in December.

Regents also approved pay raises for two groups of KU employees. Regents approved a KU proposal for an annual raise of $525 for safety and security officers and $815 for police officers and detectives. To be eligible, employees must have satisfactory job evaluations from 2008 to 2010.

They approved another proposal for KU maintenance and service employees, represented by Local 1290 PE, who would receive a $500 annual raise. Also, covered employees who have satisfactory job evaluations and no suspensions from 2008 through 2010 will get an additional $140 increase. The proposed raises would take effect Dec. 11.

The raises were passed with no discussion as part of the regents’ consent agenda.

Regents also announced the formation of the search committee that will look for the next president of Wichita State University, after President Don Beggs announced he would step down after 12 years of service on June 30, 2012.

Steve Clark, a Wichita resident, a former regent and president and CEO of Clark Investment Group, will serve as the committee’s chairman. The committee will work with the R. William Funk and Associates executive search firm. That firm also assisted with the search that ended with the hiring of Bernadette Gray-Little as KU’s chancellor in 2009.

By Andy Hyland


KU ranks third in Big 12 for study abroad and foreign student enrollment increasing

Kansas University ranks third among its current Big 12 Conference peers in the number of students studying abroad, and 39th in the country among doctoral institutions, according to a report from the U.S. government due to be released today.

KU had 1,345 people study abroad in the 2010-11 academic year, according to the report, behind only the University of Texas, with 2,284, and Texas A&M University, with 1,844, in the Big 12.

Sue Lorenz, KU’s director of the Office of Study Abroad, said the office was looking to continue to grow those programs.

“That is certainly what we’re going to be aiming for,” she said.

KU has more students who are interested, she said, but can’t make it work with their tuition payments or a need to work through school. Lorenz said she didn’t have updated figures for the most recent semester.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we were hovering around the same number, or even a little bit down,” because of the economic troubles, she said. “But I wouldn’t expect that to last.”

The university is examining ways to incorporate more study abroad options into its general education curriculum and encourage more students to take advantage of study abroad options.

The report also examines the number of international students choosing to study in the United States.

At KU, 2,325 international students chose to enroll in 2010-11, in addition to 114 at KU Medical Center, according to the report.

Daphne Johnston, associate director for international undergraduate admissions at KU’s International Student Services office, said she’s seen the numbers increase the past few years, particularly from China. Nationwide, Chinese undergraduates increased 44 percent over the previous year in 2010-11, according to the report. Johnston said that at KU, more international students are enrolling in majors like economics, business, math and engineering. But, she said, majors from all over the university are represented.

KU has been looking at ways to increase international enrollment for a few years, now, Johnston said. They participate in international college fairs in students’ home countries, and even use technology to participate in more of them remotely.

Increasing international enrollment is one of the goals being pursued by the Huron Consulting group that is looking for ways for KU to be more effective and efficient. Johnston said she’d expect that KU wouldn’t change its strategy but would keep doing more of the same kinds of things they’ve been doing in the past.

“We’ve been doing it quite successfully for quite a few years now,” she said.

By Andy Hyland


Regents to consider room and board rate increases, pay raises for some at KU

Kansas University students will pay more for room and board under a proposed increase in student housing and food service.

And KU maintenance and service workers and law enforcement would get a raise under another proposal.

The Kansas Board of Regents will take up the issues during its monthly meeting next week.

The room-and-board proposal would increase the yearly rate by $178, from $7,080 to $7,258, which equals 2.5 percent. That increase is for a typical double occupancy room and board contract.

All six state universities have submitted increases to the regents, which will discuss the matter on Wednesday and make a final decision in December. If approved, the KU proposal would take effect July 1, 2012.

The proposed increases range from 1.7 percent at Wichita State to 4 percent at Pittsburg State. Kansas State’s is 3.5 percent; Emporia State, 2.6 percent; and Fort Hays State, 2.4 percent.

Even with the increases, the cost of room and board at the Kansas schools would remain below the $8,194 average for public universities in the Midwest, according to a regents memo.

About 4,800 students live in KU student housing. The proposed increase “will enable the housing and dining operations to continue providing exceptional on-campus living experiences, which remain a great value for the students’ dollar,” a KU memo said.

On the pay raise issue, KU has proposed giving an annual raise of $525 for safety and security officers and $815 for police officers and detectives. To be eligible, employees must have satisfactory job evaluations from 2008 to 2010.

KU also is proposing giving maintenance and service employees, represented by Local 1290 PE, a $500 annual raise. In addition, covered employees who have satisfactory job evaluations and no suspensions from 2008 through 2010 will get an additional $140 increase. The proposed raises, which have already been approved by employee and employer representatives, would take effect Dec. 11 if approved by the regents.

By Scott Rothschild


KU athletics department says $58.8 million debt ‘manageable’

According to documents from Kansas Athletics Inc. and an interview with its chief financial officer, the athletics department owes about $58.8 million in debt as of the end of the 2011 fiscal year, which ended June 30.

Susan Wachter, Kansas Athletics’ chief financial officer, said the debt was “all very manageable.”

“The debt’s there, but it’s not something we can’t manage,” she said.

Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director, said the debt shouldn’t affect the other athletics operations.

“As long as it stays manageable, it will not and should not hamper us in any way,” he said.

During the last fiscal year, Kansas Athletics spent about $2.5 million on payments toward its debt, according to its financial statements. In addition to these payments, Kansas Athletics is also putting some money aside for a contractual obligation for men’s basketball coach Bill Self, who will be due a $2.1 million retention bonus from his contract in 2013. That payment — similar to retention bonuses for former athletic director Lew Perkins — will be tax-free for Self, so Kansas Athletics will likely pay Self an amount similar to the $3.59 million in gross bonus pay it paid to Perkins in 2009. Wachter said Kansas Athletics is aware of the coming payments and has been setting money aside to cover it.

Here’s a breakdown of where the department still owes money and when it should fall off the books:

Facilities Revenue Bonds: $44,255,000

This category encompasses most of KU’s current debt load. Wachter said the bonds are paying off two major projects:

Renovation to the football stadium undertaken while Bob Frederick was the athletic director. Major renovations done to Allen Fieldhouse, which were completed in 2009. Wachter said Kansas Athletics was able to refinance the football stadium debt at a lower interest rate in 2004.

Kansas Athletics paid about $1.2 million as a debt payment for the projects in the 2010 fiscal year. Wachter said the football stadium debt is set to be retired by the 2023 fiscal year, and the Allen Fieldhouse renovations should be paid off by the 2033 fiscal year.

Notes payable on Anderson Football Complex: $6 million

Wachter said Kansas Athletics will owe $6 million to help pay for the Anderson Football Complex, but, because of the way the debt is structured, the entire $6 million will be due in one lump-sum payment in 2017.

The Anderson Football Complex was completed in time for the 2008 football season. Most of the funding for the project came from private donations from Dana and Sue Anderson, former basketball team captain Tom Kivisto and his family, and other donations.

Contributions payable to the university: $4,727,489

Kansas Athletics has an agreement with KU to pay for some of the debt associated with the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center, Wachter said. The athletics department’s payments supported the building of new gyms in the building.

The athletics department paid $465,000 to the university last year, and its total obligation is scheduled to be paid by June 2020, Wachter said.

Long-term debt on Jayhawks Tennis Facility: $2,537,973

The athletics department spent $3.1 million in 2010 to purchase the First Serve Tennis Center at 5200 Clinton Parkway from Mike Elwell.

Kansas Athletics paid $61,040 on the debt associated with the purchase last year and is scheduled to have it paid off by June 2015.

Capital lease obligation for Allen Fieldhouse video board: $1,245,317

Kansas Athletics paid just more than $571,000 toward the debt on the video board last year, and the entire debt is scheduled to be paid by the 2013 fiscal year.

By Andy Hyland


Regents approve salary increases for university chiefs; hefty ones for some

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little on Thursday got a 1.8 percent salary increase, while her counterpart at Kansas State got a 14.3 percent hike.

Why? Because Kansas State President Kirk Schulz was one of three chief executives of regents universities to receive a hefty “market adjustment” from the Kansas Board of Regents.

“We all believe we have great university leaders at our regents institutions,” said Regent Fred Logan Jr. of Leawood as he laid out the plan.

All of the school leaders received the 1.8 percent cost of living increase.

But the regents also provided “market adjustments,” ranging from 12.2 percent to 14.7 percent, for the heads of Kansas State, Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State. Under the pay plan, K-State’s Schulz will see a $50,500 annual increase, while Gray-Little’s dollar increase was $7,650. Gray-Little’s salary cap, however, is still more than Schulz’s.

In addition, Steve Scott, president of Pittsburg State University, will receive a 14.7 percent market increase and Ed Hammond, president of Fort Hays State, 12.2 percent.

Prior to the action, the board had not granted salary increases to the heads of regents schools since 2009 as the state has struggled with the recession.

The increases will take effect Jan. 1 and will be paid through a combination of public and private, endowment funds. But how much will be state dollars and how much private, hasn’t been worked out yet, Regent Chairman Ed McKechnie of Arcadia said. Essentially, what the regents did was increase the salary cap for the chief executive officers.

The method of payment was criticized by Regent Tim Emert of Independence who was the lone opponent of the plan, which was approved 8-1.

Emert said the raises should be paid with state dollars, and not placed on the backs of students, through tuition and foundation funds.

“The state Legislature and governor, for some reason, refuse to step up to the plate and reward excellence,” Emert said.

Emert also said he was concerned about the employees who are not getting raises. “All the people keeping the engines running are not receiving increases,” he said.

But Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman voted for the increase, saying that it was one way to provide raises. “It seems we have asked more and more and more from these presidents and the chancellor. We are asking more, we ought to be able to deliver,” she said.

Gray-Little’s increase will put her salary cap, which includes state and endowment funding, at $432,650, an increase of $7,650 from her current cap of $425,000.

Regents members said the fact that Gray-Little did not get a market adjustment was not a reflection on what they thought of her job performance. They said the 1.8 percent increase represented a cost of living increase and should be interpreted as being a vote of confidence.

Logan said the market adjustments were needed because those presidents who received them were being paid much less than their peers.

He said the 1.8 percent increase “was not pro forma. It is a vote of confidence.”

The regents are currently searching for a new president at Emporia State, and Wichita State President Don Beggs, who is leaving next year, received a 1.8 percent cost of living increase.

The board also is considering establishing a merit system pool to provide up to 3 percent increases for the chief executives in the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2012.

Regents members met several times in closed session to discuss CEO salaries.

The current and increased salaries, which include state and private funds, under the regents vote are as follows:

• Beggs, WSU, $277,160 to $282,150 (No market adjustment; 1.8 percent cost of living increase).

• Gray-Little, KU, $425,000 to $432,650 (No market adjustment; 1.8 percent cost of living increase).

• Schulz, KSU, $350,000 to $400,050 (12.5 percent market adjustment and 1.8 percent cost of living increase).

• Hammond, FHSU, $222,860 to $255,200 (12.2 percent market adjustment and 1.8 percent cost of living increase).

• Scott, PSU, $213,200 to $248,378 (14.7 percent market adjustment and 1.8 percent cost of living increase).

• ESU to be determined.

By Scott Rothschild


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


Medical startup to locate in KU’s biosciences incubator

A startup company that works to make painkillers have fewer side effects has signed a deal to locate in Kansas University’s biosciences incubator.

Mencuro Therapeutics Inc. has agreed to move into the Bioscience and Technology Business Center Expansion Facility near Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive. The company uses research developed by KU researcher Tom Prisinzano and Laura Bohn, a neuroscientist at The Scripps Research Institute in Florida. That pair teamed up with colleagues Robert Karr and Randy Weiss to launch the company earlier this year. The startup is hiring one full-time biologist immediately and plans to hire additional scientists within the next year.

The company’s focus is on how to make painkillers similar to morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone, but without harsh side effects.

“We’re trying to take the strongest, most potent painkillers and eliminate the side effects so they’re more like Advil or Tylenol,” Prisinzano said.

Mencuro becomes the 11th tenant for the 14-month old incubator system. The incubator houses nine tenants at its main facility on West Campus and two at its expansion facility at Bob Billings and Wakarusa Drive. The incubator is a partnership among KU, the city, the county, the chamber, the local bioscience authority and the state bioscience authority. The strong amount of tenant activity has led to expansion plans for the incubator. The city has put $500,000 in its 2012 budget to kickstart an effort to build more space on West Campus. The project likely will take $7 million to $8 million to complete.

By Chad Lawhorn


KU basketball ‘mini plans’ include tickets for big games

Kansas University no longer scores enough points-holding, ticket-buying fans to fill Allen Fieldhouse — a loss of demand that is leaving seats for the season’s most intense rivalries available to the general public.

Officials at Kansas Athletics Inc. aren’t at all worried about the Jayhawks losing their streak of 164 consecutive home sellouts. Instead, they consider the availability of tickets for the 2011-12 season as a prime opportunity for folks outside the Williams Fund to buy in.

“We had the same thing last year, and they were gone well before the first game,” said Jim Marchiony, an associate athletic director. “We anticipate the same thing happening this year.”

To help draw more fans, the department, for the first time, is selling tickets in seven-game “mini plans” without requiring membership in the Williams Fund, the donor organization that finances athletic scholarships and provides “priority points” for seating for men’s basketball games. The department did the same thing last year, but with half-season plans.

Previously, fund membership had been mandatory for everyone outside students, faculty and staff buying season tickets for men’s basketball. The requirement formed the cornerstone of a points system implemented by then-Athletic Director Lew Perkins to drive up donations, using his department’s most sought-after asset.

While fund membership remains a requirement to secure season tickets this year — yes, some 19-game sets remain available, accessible with a $100 donation — the mini plans represent a new approach.

Each of three seven-game plans costs either $300 or $400, depending on seat location, and includes tickets for three Big 12 Conference games:

• Iowa State, Baylor and Texas Tech.

• Kansas State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.

• Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas.

That’s right: Without paying a premium, buyers can see the seven-time defending conference champion Jayhawks take on their most heated rivals.

Whether it’s Baylor (picked by many to win the league), K-State (Sunflower Showdown) or both Texas and Missouri (one a big-time program, the other a big-time rival), seats to such games remain available for purchase directly from the department.

And who knows? The Missouri game Feb. 25 just may be the last one the Tigers — mulling whether to leave the conference — ever play in Lawrence, after 121 previous Border War battles.

(KU is 44-14 all time against the Tigers at the fieldhouse, by the way, and 88-33 in Lawrence.)

“It’s a much more affordable sum of money to still get to experience the best home court — the best home court experience — in college basketball,” Marchiony said.

About 300 to 400 seats remains available, as a mixture of either season tickets or through mini plans.

To help market the seats to potential buyers, the department has sent materials to degree-holding KU alumni in Douglas and Johnson counties. Each mailing includes a photo of a basketball locker — one containing a jersey adorned with the last name of a particular degree holder — along with a personalized Web address for degree holders to access information online.

By Mark Fagan