The price of a college education is threatening to get out of range for many people, Kansas State University President Richard Myers said Thursday.
Speaking at the noon meeting of the Topeka Rotary Club, Myers expressed concern that the state of Kansas in recent years has significantly reduced funding for higher education, forcing universities to raise tuition.
"That shifts the burden to the students and families, and that's a real problem," he said. "And it's going to create a situation where you have the haves and have nots, and that's not good for a state."
Myers stressed that the "jobs of the future" are expected to require education beyond high school.
"We're not setting ourselves up for success there," he said.
Myers said the costs of running a university have not risen in recent years, as KSU's expenses over the past decade have remained "basically flat."
What has changed, he said, is who pays those costs.
Myers spoke in response to a question posed near the end of Thursday's meeting in the Capitol Plaza Hotel, where he talked for nearly 30 minutes before an audience of about 65 people.
He spoke about topics that included KSU's efforts encourage Kansas lawmakers to devote more money to higher education.
Myers, 76, is a retired U.S. Air Force four-star general who served from 2001 to 2005 as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He graduated in 1960 from Shawnee Mission North High School in Johnson County, and in 1965 from KSU with a degree in mechanical engineering.
After retiring from the military, Myers became KSU's interim president in late April 2016 and accepted that position on a permanent basis in November 2016.
"I really like it," he said Thursday, adding that he found it "energizing" to be on campus.
Myers said he lives in the president's residence, located only "a stone's throw" from the chapel at KSU where he and his wife, the former Mary Jo Rupp, were married in 1965.
The Myerses are teaming up to chair KSU's Innovation and Inspiration Campaign, the most ambitious fund-raising effort in the university's history, which is seeking to raise $1.4 billion. That campaign has brought in about $1.33 billion so far, Myers told Thursday's audience.
He also talked about steps the university is taking to deal with budget challenges, increase its enrollment, bring in more students from out of state and improve graduation rates.
"When somebody commits to Kansas State, we commit to getting them through," Myers said.