skip to nav skip to content
Wichita State University may be the best kept secret in Wichita, according to WSU President John Bardo.
"When I got the job and was able to start meeting with faculty members, it became really clear to me that this campus was much better than even I knew it was, and certainly significantly better than the city understands," Bardo said. "The level of world-class work going on here is just spectacular.
"To say it's a positive surprise for me is true, but the fact that the city really doesn't understand what it has here, I think is almost more surprising."
Bardo is setting out a plan to change that. Now a handful of months into the role after former president Don Beggs resigned earlier this year, Bardo is putting together a strategic plan to give the university a common direction.
Physical improvements to the university are in the works. A new student residence hall and a parking garage were recently announced. More green space is in line for the campus in coming years. Bardo also faces decisions on finding new deans for the engineering and health departments.
In education, Bardo wants Wichita State to expand its research potential. He implemented a $50,000 undergraduate research fund. Bardo wants WSU to reach into the community to help expand the city's employment capacity and diversify the economic base.
Concerns still abound about base funding from the state. Bardo does not want to raise prices too much in the current state of the economy.
"Our goal here has to be to be the best value in education in the country," he said. "By value, that doesn't mean the least expensive nor does it mean the most expensive. It means the best quality for a fair price."
Quality bleeds itself into all aspects of Bardo's ethics. Athletic programs are improving, becoming more competitive on the court and in the classroom. The goal is to create teams that not only qualify for NCAA tournaments, but win in them.
The potential rebirth of a football program, of course, continues to be brought up. For right now, that topic is a non-starter.
"There are folks that say, 'oh, but you can start it on the cheap' and 'you can do no-scholarship football.' Actually, you can't," Bardo said. 'What that does to the university is that it tells the world that we're a second-or-third-class school. I'm just not going to do that.
"This university is first-class."
Bardo discussed his presidency and the future of Wichita State on KFDI's At Issue program. A copy of the podcast can be found here.