By the late 70’s, for two years running, we had the highest producing dairy herd in Kansas and in the early 80’s had bred (with our partner Lawrence Mayer) one of the most famous Holstein bulls of the times, Carlin M Ivanhoe Bell. My Dad always said that it was the milk check that kept the bills paid, and the wheat crop would be a bonus--a bonus that was heavily influenced by wheat research at Kansas State University.
As I reflect back on those early experiences, I also think about the values of Kansas that influenced progress then and continued through the decades since. We believed in education, education that was available to all. We believed in investing in the future through quality education and in research and extension (so valuable for getting that research to the user across the state). We believed in the necessity to invest in our infrastructure, whether that be from Federal programs available or from our own tax dollars, to not only protect earlier investments but to enhance and grow for a better tomorrow. These were Kansas values that crossed party lines and made us a progressive state, of which we could consistently be proud. That is the Kansas I have known throughout my lifetime--that is, until the last few years.
Somehow from that historic and successful past, we have shifted our values away from public good to private gain, from balanced taxation to favoring the few, and from investing in the future for all to a focus on individual, short-term gain. Reversing that course is the premier challenge of our times. Whether enough responsible citizens step up now will decide that future.
Also in this blog series on higher education: Focus on Higher Education: An Introduction, Are We Reversing Our Direction on Research?, and It Hasn't Always Been This Way for Higher Education.