DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Dodge City and Ford County commissions are officially supporting a proposed merger of Dodge City Community College and Fort Hays State University.
At separate meetings this week the commissions approved resolutions backing the merger. The resolutions weren’t needed for the plan to go forward, but the commissions were urged to approve them to show the Kansas Board of Regents the proposal has local support, The Dodge City Daily Globe reported (http://bit.ly/RwYXre ).
The merger would create an Institute of Applied Technology on the Dodge City campus, with Fort Hays State offering some four-year degree programs. Fort Hays would run both campuses. The plan still must be approved by the Kansas Board of Regents, the state Legislature and the governor.
The Regents are expected to hear more details of the plan during their May meeting and supporters hope to receive a budget request to send to the Legislature.
County Chairman Chris Boys called the plan “the most exciting thing we’re doing right now.”
City Commissioner Joyce Warshaw also praised the proposal.
“As an educator myself, I think this is a great thing for Dodge City, but some people are a little bit apprehensive,” City Commission Joyce Warshaw said.
When the plan was announced in March some Dodge City faculty and residents criticized the college’s board for not being notified about the plan and questioned if the community college would benefit from the merger. They also suggested Dodge City residents should have more of a voice in the process. In April, the Dodge City Board of Trustees issued a list of goals for negotiations that include protecting the community college’s interests.
County Commissioner Shawn Tasset said he still believed Dodge City constituents should have a chance to vote on the plan and he wanted to ensure that the college’s board will retain the ability to pull out if it becomes necessary.
“This is a process that’ll take at least a year before we get to a final operating agreement between the Board of Regents and the Board of Trustees,” Dodge City Trustee Morris Reeves said.
Planners have said they hope the Legislature will pass enabling legislation during its next session, perhaps with funding in place for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2015.
Information from: The Dodge City (Kan.) Globe, http://www.dodgeglobe.com