Eagle editorial: Wichita State is on the rise

02/28/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:22 AM

What a great time to be a Shocker fan. And not just because of basketball.

The No. 2-ranked Wichita State University Shockers are the first Division I men’s basketball team to reach 30-0 during the regular season. They’ve already won the Missouri Valley Conference title and will go for a perfect conference record on Saturday in a Senior Day game against Missouri State.

The Shocker women are also having a terrific year and are closing in on their own conference title.

How sweet it is.

But that’s not the only good news at WSU. There are many other exciting initiatives and developments that are helping grow and transform the university.

WSU president John Bardo outlined plans this week for a new “innovation campus” that will house technology-based companies and research programs. The idea is to create a partnership in which companies access university research and expertise and WSU faculty and students can pursue the commercialization of their ideas. Not only will this benefit WSU, but it could be a significant economic boost for the city and state – which is why Gov. Sam Brownback and state lawmakers are so supportive.

Bardo also said this week that applications from potential students are up 86 percent from last year, and he expects 600 to 800 or more students next year. The “Final Four effect” likely is contributing to the increased interest, but the university has been more aggressive in marketing itself.

One big new draw for students next fall will be the residence hall being built just south of Cessna Stadium. It’s the first new dormitory at WSU in nearly 50 years and is already changing the skyline of the campus and city.

Two other great additions next fall will be international opera stars Samuel Ramey and Alan Held, who are joining the WSU music faculty. Also expect continued excellence from WSU’s symphony orchestra, which was invited to represent Kansas at the 2014 American Celebration of Music in Austria (but, unfortunately, wasn’t able to raise enough money to attend).

WSU also recently acquired 125 more photographs by Gordon Parks for its collection. The photos will be displayed at the university’s Ulrich Museum of Art, probably in an exhibition sometime in 2016.

Other good news at WSU includes the renovation of Rhatigan Student Center, which is scheduled to be completed in July, a new Honors College that is opening next fall, and the renovated Kansas Coliseum, which is now being used by WSU’s National Institute for Aviation Research.

The men’s basketball team is receiving a lot of national media attention – and deservedly so. But WSU’s success isn’t just on the court.

The university as a whole is rising like Tekele Cotton going to the rim.

For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee

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