December 03, 2015 10:00AM
Pittsburg State University hosted a summit of local and regional legislators this week to discuss a variety of issues, including the university’s proposal for a new School of Transportation.
The meeting, which took place at the Pittsburg State Kansas Technology Center, gave university officials the chance to discuss the proposal and answer questions before the Kansas Legislature convenes in January. The discussion included a tour of PSU’s Automotive Technology Department and labs.
“This was part of our pre-session work and advocacy efforts,” said Shawn Naccarato, PSU’s director of government and community relations. “We wanted to give the southeast Kansas delegation an opportunity to ask questions and ensure they are comfortable with and supportive of the proposal.”
The university is requesting $1.5 million from the state for the School of Transportation, a request that was recently placed on the list of budget priorities that the Kansas Board of Regents sent to Gov. Sam Brownback’s office.
University officials believe that the creation of the School of Transportation would place Pittsburg State among the elite automotive programs in the nation and go a long way toward increasing the number of qualified transportation professionals in the workforce.
“Funding of this proposal would lead to direct and measurable outcomes, both for the university and the transportation industry,” College of Technology Dean Bruce Dallman said. “Automotive Technology graduates would increase by nearly 35 percent over five years. This proposal offers the state of Kansas a unique opportunity to invest in postsecondary education in a way that will have an immediate and significant impact.”
Kansas Sen. Jake LaTurner, who attended Monday’s summit, said he supports the university’s proposal.
“The School of Transportation would leverage existing strength at PSU, providing opportunity for students, deepen connection with industry and help support regional and statewide economic growth,” LaTurner said. “I’m proud to support PSU in this endeavor, as the university consistently proves why these types of programs show great return-on-investment for the state and its workforce.”
Also during the summit, Pitt State officials provided legislators with an update on the Kansas Center for Career and Technical Education. The KCCTE was created in 2014 thank to a $1 million investment from the state.
Legislators in attendance at the summit were Sen. LaTurner, Sen. Jeff King, Sen. Caryn Tyson, Rep. Adam Lusker, Rep. Rich Proehl and Rep. Chuck Smith.