Great Lakes Airlines Leaves Hays, Affects FHSU Faculty Searches

– Tanner Hassell

***This is Part 3 of a three-part series that looks at the impact that loss of airline service into and out of Hays has had on various departments and groups at Fort Hays State University. Part 1 looked at the impact on the Athletic Department and its recruiting efforts. Part 2 looked at the impact on international students who are dealing with canceled flights. Part 3 (below) looks at the impact on searches to fill faculty vacancies. All of the writers are enrolled in Comm 240 News Reporting.***

Great Lakes Airlines abruptly left Hays prior to its expected date of departure, a move that could affect current and upcoming faculty searches being carried out by the departments at Fort Hays State University.

Despite a contract that would not expire until April 30, Great Lakes Airlines discontinued flights into and out of Hays on March 31. This move by Great Lakes
Airlines has left Hays without any air flight service for several months during late spring and throughout most of the summer months. Air West Airlines is scheduled to begin service Aug. 1.

This period of time is particularly inconvenient for departments at Fort Hays State University. According to Paul Faber, dean of the college of arts and sciences and Mark Bannister, dean of the college of business and entrepreneurship, this is the time of year in which the majority of faculty searches are carried out.

“It’s forced us to bring in candidates through Wichita, Kansas City, and even Denver. Beyond that, when potential faculty can’t fly in, it makes the community seem more remote or isolated,” Bannister said.

“This really has an almost psychological effect, and it potentially makes the job less appealing to future candidates. Great Lakes leaving reinforces the idea that we are isolated here in Hays,” Faber said.

The College of Health and Life Sciences has also experienced inconvenience due to the timing of the airline’s departure.

“We’ve had a host of searches, and we’ve had a lot of quality candidates. It definitely presents challenges to not be able to fly candidates directly into Hays,” said Jeff Briggs, dean of the college of health and life sciences.

Briggs added that of the five most recent faculty searches in his college, three of the potential candidates had to be flown into another airport and picked up.

Despite the inconveniences, all three deans said their budgets haven’t been critically affected. Costs related to mileage and rental car services vary from department to department, they said. The one constant is that any potential new faculty members that live far away are having to fly in via an airport in another city.

SkyWest, the new air service for Hays, will begin service Aug. 1. Until then, Hays has its wings clipped.

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