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Voters approve research triangle

Measure will mean new facilities, more degrees

Submitted/Elaine Warren

KU Edwards Campus faculty and staff and research triangle supporters held a watch party on Election Day. Pictured from left are, Becci Blaesing, director of corporate giving, KU Endowment; Joy Maxwell, assistant director of Kansas City programs, KU Alumni Association; Charlie Holt, Johnson County resident and supporter of the triangle initiative; Susan Holt, assistant dean, KU Edwards Campus; and Elaine Warren, public relations director, KU Edwards Campus.

Johnson County voters approved a one-eighth cent sales tax on Election Day, opening the door for a partnership that will bring expanded research, cancer treatment, educational opportunities and jobs to the area.

“We are grateful to the citizens of Johnson County for voting the way they did,” said Bob Clark, vice chancellor for the Edwards Campus. “They voted to fund programs that will improve the quality of life in the area. We’re looking to hit the ground running and show we’re responsive to what they want.”

Web triangle

For more research on the Johnson County Research Triangle, visit

The Johnson County Education Research Triangle will be a partnership between KU and Kansas State University. The sales tax is expected to generate an estimated $15 million per year to fund new facilities, which include the KU Cancer Clinical Research Center in Fairway, the K-State National Food and Animal Health Institute in Olathe and the Business, Engineering Science and Technology, or BEST, Center at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park.

Now that the measure has been approved, the next step is establishing the body that will govern the partnership. The Johnson County Education Research Triangle Authority will be a seven-member body consisting of elected officials from Johnson County. The authority will ensure tax revenues are divided into three equal parts and distributed evenly among the three institutions.


For its point of the triangle, the KU Medical Center will establish the KU Cancer Clinical Research Center. The center will be a vital component in the ongoing effort to attain National Cancer Institute designation for its Cancer Center. Plans call for an approximately $20 million renovation of a 70,000 square-foot facility in Fairway. The building was donated by the Hall family Foundation upon passage of the ballot measure.

“We know the best results for cancer patients are obtained when they have access to the latest cancer treatments close to home,” said Karen Kelly, deputy director of the KU Cancer Center. “Patients and their families who live here shouldn’t bear the burden of traveling to other states to obtain the latest cancer treatments. With a state-of-the-art clinical trials facility in Johnson County, we can make progress in our fight against cancer and save lives.”

The goal is to start construction on the center by 2010.

The Center would also provide KU researchers leverage in attracting millions of dollars in research grants to further their understanding of cancer.


Revenue generated by the measure will enable the Edwards Campus to construct the Business, Engineering, Science and Technology, or BEST, Center. Before the structure is finished however, the campus will begin expanding its degree offerings in these areas. Clark said research has shown that demand is high. Every month there are about 1,500 jobs open in those disciplines in the Kansas City area. Research has also shown more than 10,000 people in the Kansas City area with some college education want to finish a bachelor’s degree and more than 22,000 want to finish a graduate degree. Eventually, an Edwards Campus and Johnson County Community College partnership will add four undergraduate programs. The Edwards Campus will also add six graduate degree programs in BEST areas. The programs will be phased in gradually, and will eventually allow the campus to enroll 1,000 to 1,500 more students than it does currently.

Clark said the goal is to have the new $23.3 million, 75,000 square-foot facility constructed and open on the Edwards Campus within two years.


K-State’s tip of the triangle will be the establishment of a $28 million, 103,000 square-foot facility dedicated to threat assessment and protection, forensic ag science and advanced ag technology.

A stipulation of the governance arrangement for the authority ensures each new facility will have a budget that includes money for ongoing maintenance and facilities. The measure is expected to generate an economic stimulus estimated at $1.4 billion over the next two decades.

Legislation enacted last year allowed the measure to appear on ballots. The idea for the triangle was formed following release of the “Time To Get it Right” report by Benno Schmidt, former president of Yale University.

“This is an idea that has taken five years to go from its inception to this successful state,” Clark said. “I’m grateful to everyone who stuck with it and to the voters.”

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