A guide to KBOR, governing body of Kansas higher education


Mia Hennen

A Kansas Board of Regents flyer from October 2022.

The price tag on a college education, especially at a four-year school, has increased drastically over the past two decades, and the cost of tuition and fees can be a deciding factor in where a student chooses to study. In Kansas, universities’ tuition decisions are controlled by The Kansas Board of Regents, the governing body for the state’s higher education institutions.

Despite KBOR playing a huge role in higher education, many students don’t know what or who the board is.

“Students know that money decisions are made, but they don’t know who makes them,” Student Body President John Kirk said.On Oct. 19, the board visited Wichita State for the first time since 2019. During the visit, they met with students holding internships on campus.

“I wouldn’t know about them without this internship,” sophomore criminal justice major Emma Anthony, who attended the internship mixer, said. “I would have graduated and not known about them.”

Responsibilities and function of KBOR

The board’s responsibilities are far-reaching. The nine-member board oversees and manages student financial aid, adult education, high school equivalency – like GEDs – and career and technical education programs within the state’s higher education institutions. 

“I would say one of the most important things we do is trying to make the educational experience a positive experience and try to make it affordable, so that [students] are able to obtain their education,” Cheryl Harrison-Lee, former KBOR chair and current member, said.

KBOR also hires (and fires) university presidents.

“(They hold) President (Rick) Muma accountable, like they’re basically Muma’s boss,” Kirk said. 

Tuition is one of the biggest items controlled by KBOR. Each summer, university representatives present their tuition proposals, and KBOR has the ability to approve or reject their plans.

The board controls a handful of other issues relating to universities. In fact, in September, the board received criticism for its unanimous approval of an Emporia State plan that led to the termination of 33 faculty.

Past, current and future items for the board can be viewed at kansasregents.org.

Communication with students, administrators

Due to the board’s small size, they often rely on student government associations as well as administrators at the institutions to communicate issues or ideas with them, KBOR Chair Jon Rolph said.

Kirk said that student government presidents from all the state’s universities meet with the board each month to share their concerns.

“I think it’s more important for [students] to have a connection with the student government since we’re the ones that are going to be making those financial decisions and then presenting them to KBOR,” Kirk said.

Student Government Association offices are on the second floor of the RSC in room 219. The group’s Senate meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. as well, where students can go to voice their concerns. 

How are board members chosen?

Members of KBOR are appointed by the governor of Kansas following the end of a former member’s term. Each member serves a term of four years. 

Currently, each member on the board was appointed by Governor Laura Kelly. Since Kelly was re-elected this midterm, KBOR will not see members chosen from someone besides her until 2026 at the earliest. 

“There’s states around this country where governors intentionally are picking people who are in conflict with higher education,” Rolph said. “I think it’s been true both Republican governors, Democratic governors, that they’re picking people who they believe would be good will be good stewards of this asset for Kansas.”

In an attempt to balance who the governor chooses for the board, certain rules regarding who can be appointed to the board are in place.

“You can’t appoint two people from the same county,” Rolph said. “You have to have at least one person from every congressional district, and you can’t have more than five of any one party on (the board) at a time.”

Many who serve on the board have ties to businesses all across Kansas and come from educational backgrounds. A full list of board members and their ties can be found at kansasregents.org/about/meet_the_board.