John Bardo

President
Wichita State University

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What is something you love about this community?

I love that Wichita is diverse and vibrant, with a wonderful mix of neighborhoods, restaurants, activities and people. My wife, Deborah, grew up here, and we were married here. We had picnics in Fairmount Park, and watched the Shockers play football in Cessna Stadium. We have family and lifelong friends in the community. Even during the years we were away, we would return frequently, so Wichita has always felt like home.

What would you like to say about Wichita in ten years?

In ten years, I’d like us to celebrate the fantastic progress we will have made. The I-35 corridor from Texas to Missouri is generating tremendous positive economic activity, especially at the southern end. We have been working with the Kansas Board of Regents on plans to greatly increase our enrollment from Dallas-Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and throughout those states. Wichita companies already have important business relationships in those areas. Having more students from those areas, along with business and research partnerships, will strengthen Wichita and the region.

What transformational projects need to be complete by 2025?

Before we can transform the built environment, we need to transform the community’s mindset. Too often in Wichita’s recent past, the dominant voices have been the ones saying some version of, “No, it can’t be done here.” In fact, we can positively change as a community and that change doesn’t have to be limited to downtown, Old Town or the WSU campus. Our K-12 schools and city neighborhoods are ripe with potential. There are good leaders on many levels. We need to keep encouraging those in the community, especially young adults, who are changing Wichita for the better.

How long have you lived in Wichita?

Fifteen years, including five as president (2012-17) and ten years as a professor at the start of my career (1973-83).

What is the first thing you would show a visitor to Wichita?

Our beautiful campus and the buildings under construction and planned for Innovation Campus.