Guest Commentary

Investment in college educators pays off for communities

Aerial view of WSU’s Innovation Campus

A drone's eye view of Wichita State’s Innovation Campus.
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A drone's eye view of Wichita State’s Innovation Campus.

Almost all of us can recall a childhood teacher who made a pivotal difference in our lives. He or she saw our potential and helped set us on a path for personal or educational growth.

The same scenario plays out in college. Over the years, countless people have told me stories of the professors who changed their lives, who inspired them to achieve in ways they never thought possible, to pursue careers they never thought attainable — to be the very best versions of themselves.

This is the kind of educator every university in the country wants and competes fiercely for. After all, over time, a typical faculty member touches hundreds if not thousands of lives. The knowledge and experience these students gain will only be as strong as the faculty under whom they study.

Recognizing and respecting the enormous importance of our faculty, the WSU Foundation is making it a top priority in the coming year to raise private funds to invest in them. In this final year of our Shock the World Campaign, we hope to show our loyal alumni, local corporations and businesses, and other friends how much is at stake. The professors we bring to Wichita (and strive to keep here) are the mentors, innovators and thinkers who play a large role in shaping the future of our economy with every student they teach. Our goal is to support them by increasing the number of endowed chairs, professorships and faculty fellows, as well as enhancing funds for general faculty support.

Like every university nationwide, Wichita State relies on private contributions to achieve the margin of excellence — a level of distinction that public funding alone cannot sustain. WSU’s reputation has been enhanced because donors share the vision of our university’s leadership to be known for our innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. This appeal for additional faculty support is directed to all who value Wichita State’s contributions.

WSU is fortunate to have an exceptionally talented roster of educators. Our scholars and professionals are committed not only to their students, but also to their community. But in too many cases, our investment in them falls short. These educators have many job opportunities from which to choose, not only from schools vying for them but also from the private sector. We also want to hire industry experts and other professionals who have real-life knowledge and experiences to share with our students. To be competitive in these arenas, Wichita State must do more. We must augment existing resources with the philanthropic support of those who understand how vital outstanding faculty is to our university’s future.

I invite you to be a partner in supporting higher public education in our community. Investing in WSU’s prized faculty will enhance our ability to help our region thrive, as we prepare young men and women to tackle tomorrow’s challenges and build our future.

Elizabeth King is president and CEO of the WSU Foundation