MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- The newest members of the Kansas Board of Regents have diverse backgrounds but they are all advocates for higher education in the Sunflower State.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback introduced the three newest regents during a news conference held on Kansas State University's campus Thursday morning.
Shane Bangerter, Dodge City; Ann Brandau-Murguia; Kansas City; and Helen Van Etten, Topeka will each serve a four year term, expiring June 30, 2017.
"The appointments to regents are probably the biggest, most important appointments a governor makes because the regents institutions which encompass all of higher education in the state of Kansas are under one governing authority. These are key appointments and it affects a large number of students and it affects the trajectory of the future for the state of Kansas," Governor Brownback said.
He added: "The Board of Regents sets policy and directions for higher education and that’s why it’s important the regents members have a variety of expertise and experience to guide our universities, community colleges and technical schools. I’m excited about the three people that I’m announcing here today. They are another all-star team to the Board of Regents."
The nine-member Kansas Board of Regents is appointed by the governor. It is the governing board of the six state universities and the statewide coordinating board for the state’s 32 public higher education institutions (six state universities, one municipal university, 19 community colleges, and six technical colleges).
Shane Bangerter has practiced law in the state of Kansas for more than 23 years and is a founding partner of Rebein Bangerter Rebein P.A. which has offices in Dodge City and Tampa, Florida. Bangerter serves as Vice Chair of the Dodge City community College Board of Trustees and the Young Life Start Up Board in Dodge City.
"Education has become quite a passion of mine, especially at the community college level. It’s very important, I think, to have an open, accessible, affordable and valuable education. That is what I will strive for on the Board of Regents is that we have that in our state," Bangerter said.
Ann Brandau-Murguia is the Executive Director of the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association in Kansas City, KS. She also serves as 3rd District Representative on the Kansas City, KS Unified Government Board of Commissioners.
"The area that I represent has a very large, low income minority population. And I’m very interested in bringing that perspective to the Board of Regents because I would like all people across the state of Kansas to have the great opportunity to experience any educational environment in the state," Brandau-Murguia said during the press conference.
Helen Van Etten is an Audiologist with the Topeka Public School District. She is on the Board of Governors for the Eisenhower Excellence in Public Service Series and is a member of Heartland Sertoma Club.
"Education is close to my heart. I feel that our children are our future and the quality of higher education is a very critical part that I will be striking for and I look forward to working with other leaders… I understand that it’s a heavy task but I am up to it," Van Etten said.
The Board also administers the state’s student financial aid, adult education, GED, career and technical education programs, and the state university retirement plans. And it approves private proprietary schools and out-of-state institutions to operate in Kansas, and administers the Kan-ed network.
The new appointees will succeed Christine Downey-Schmidt, a former state senator from Inman; Dan Lykins, a Topeka attorney; and Janie Perkins, a Garden City school district administrator and former mayor.
Governor Brownback addressed higher education funding cuts during the pres conference. He recently toured the state, fighting for stable funding for universities, community colleges and technical schools with targeted investments in areas Kansas “excels in,” including research in health, aviation, animal agriculture. At the time, a four percent cut for all higher education institutions was being looked at. Legislators ended up approving stable funding for community colleges and technical schools and a 1.5% cut for four year institutions.
"I’m going to fight to get that restored. This is not over. I think the universities are stepping up to do what they can do and we’re going to keep pushing forward," he said.