John Bardo

President
Wichita State University

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What makes Wichita a great place to live?

Wichita is a great place to live because of its location and opportunities it offers. It has the benefits of a big city in business, technology, education and cultural offerings, while maintaining the synergy and values of a thriving Midwestern community.

What is the biggest challenge or opportunity for our community in 2016?

There are several critical challenges facing the community. First, we need to continue to diversify our economic base while continuing to support our core businesses. Economic competitiveness will remain a very critical issue. Second, we need to find ways to encourage our increasingly diverse population to have the opportunity to increase their educational attainment. Having strong schools that address increasingly complex educational needs is critical to our future. Third, we need to continue to enhance our infrastructure if we are to remain globally competitive. How we pay for those enhancements will remain a major challenge.

What would you tell a person who is considering moving to Wichita?

It’s a great time to live and work in Wichita. There’s a strong focus on economic growth and improved quality of life. There are also abundant opportunities to make a difference as a volunteer. It’s a city where newcomers have an opportunity to get involved and make an immediate impact in important organizations ranging from the Greater Wichita Partnership to Young Professionals of Wichita to the Tallgrass Film Festival. Newcomers effort and ideas are welcome here.

Who could be better served by our community?

There is an awakening sense that the community needs to do more to support inventors and entrepreneurs, for it is only through their efforts that the local economy can grow. The old, disproven model of economic growth is to buy jobs through incentives. But the clear evidence is that economic and job growth is largely driven by newer, technology-based companies. The university’s efforts are aligned with the Greater Wichita Partnership, Blueprint for Regional Economic Growth and other partners to create an environment, infrastructure, investment capital and quality of life where all can thrive.

What is Wichita’s best kept secret?

The dining room at Shocker Hall is open to the public. Park at 21st and Oliver and take the free shuttle to the Shocker Hall stop. The lunch buffet is $7.25, plus tax. Enjoy the energy of hundreds of students, then get your exercise by touring the magnificent outdoor sculpture collection.

How long have you lived in Wichita?

14 years (1973-83; 2012-present)

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.