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Wichita State president seeking input for university’s future

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Sep. 16, 2013, at 3:27 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, at 11:11 p.m.

Wichita State University’s president convened a meeting on Tuesday that he has said will be crucial to the university’s future.

John Bardo is spending three hours, beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the Preferred Medical Systems Multi Purpose Center next to Koch Arena, laying out proposed plans and seeking ideas from students, staff and faculty.

Bardo, president since last summer, has spent more than a year studying the university’s finances and organization. He has dealt with losses of programs and money from state budget cuts. He asked for and received from the Kansas Board of Regents an 8 percent tuition increase that prompted state legislators to criticize him. He has said he regrets the impact the increase will have on students and recruitment.

He has tried, he said this summer, to not only find ways for WSU to navigate these problems but to grow enrollment, and grow income from sources other than tax dollars and tuition. He plans to lay out ideas. He also wants to hear ideas and concerns from anyone at the meeting.

The university statement said Bardo will speak to attendees on ideas and initiatives, lay out how the rest of the university’s new strategic plan will be formed, and ask for suggestions, including about areas like adult and distance learning and student retention.

At the top of his mind, Bardo has said, will be how to propose workable ideas for enrollment and revenue growth. He has said he does not want to merely try again and again to make a case to a reluctant legislature to give WSU more money. “When leading a university, you need to ask yourself what is the true purpose of your leadership, and what you are really trying to accomplish,” he said earlier this summer. It is not enough, he went on to say, to be a mere steward but to create growth, not only in revenue but in intellectual productivity.

He has said he wants to harness WSU’s scientists and other researchers to create new money streams, including from new partnerships with industry and business. He has said he wants to grow revenue in part by growing enrollment, which has been flat for many years.

One of the first significant decisions he made after coming here in the summer of 2012 was to build a new residence hall on campus. That alone won’t necessarily attract new students, he has said. But he said he has been developing other ideas on how to grow the size of the student body. He said earlier this summer that the residence hall is only the first move in a related series of ideas.

Reach Roy Wenzl at 316-268-6219 or rwenzl@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @roywenzl.

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