Speaking in front of a U.S. House subcommittee, Wichita State President John Bardo touted applied education as a model to stimulate local economics.
President Bardo was one of 24 invited guest panelists selected to speak in front of the Educational Workforce Committee Wednesday in Washington D.C. Bardo previously spoke in front of a U.S. House subcommittee in February.
Bardo discussed business partnerships, half-credit-hour badge courses, and the university’s affiliation with Wichita Area Technical College, now WSU Tech.
“When you aim the program at the needs of the student, and you aim it at the needs of the community, you get the enrollment,” Bardo said. “Our mission is to provide the best applied learning for our students possible — regardless of major.”
Rep. Ron Estes of Wichita questioned Bardo about the challenges of maintaining a local workforce in the community. Bardo said he hopes to enhance the relationships students develop with local enterprises by creating an innovation district around the university.
According to the Brookings Institute, innovation districts “facilitate the creation and commercialization of new ideas and support metropolitan economies by growing jobs in ways that leverage their distinct economic attributes.”
“We know students go where they think the opportunity is,” Bardo said. “If [students] see that the future may be there, they tend to stay there.
“We know, if the opportunity is there, at least 30 percent of students will stay.”
Bardo said that, by breaking down traditional 16-week courses into half-credit badge courses, the university can maintain competitiveness in the Midwest. Last fall, Wichita State announced an increase of 607 students who enrolled in free, half-credit-hour courses.
“It gets on the transcript … It’s something that can build over time,” Bardo said.
Bardo recommended that universities partner with outside enterprises — following WSU’s Innovation Campus model as a method of stimulating local economies.
“Fundamentally, what Wichita State is trying to do is focus on the future, focus on competitiveness, and help the state of Kansas and the state of the U.S.”