Last week's tour of state universities by Kansas legislators gave policymakers a chance to ask questions, and it gave university officials a chance to make their case for what they do and why they deserve state funding.
Almost entirely missing from the conversation was the teaching and research in the humanities, arts and social sciences, which historically have distinguished KU and have played a critical role at universities for more than 100 years.
During the tour, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Provost Jeffrey Vitter and others pointed to patents its researchers have generated, startups that have spun out of university ventures and new corporate partnerships. They took legislators on a tour of research labs and business incubators.They bragged about the increase in engineering students and talked of the need to invest in the medical school so that the university can produce more doctors.
Yet KU officials and legislators mostly skipped over -- both rhetorically during presentations and physically in the tour -- its research and teaching in fields without a technical or commercial component.