Wichita State President John Bardo dies


Brian Hayes

Wichita State President John Bardo announces a partnership between Spirit AeroSystems and Wichita State.

Wichita State President John William Bardo died Tuesday at the age of 70.

Bardo was hospitalized in November with a chronic lung condition and had been in rehabilitation. He returned to Wesley Medical Center last weekend.

Funeral services will be private, according to a university release, but a public Celebration of Life event will be held on campus later this spring. The funeral procession will drive through campus Monday between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., making five stops at the Marcus Welcome Center, Wiedemann Hall, the WSU plane crash memorial, the National Institute for Aviation Research, and the Rhatigan Student Center.

The release describes Bardo as “an innovator, nationally recognized scholar and deep believer in the value of public research universities.”

Kansas Board of Regents Chair Dennis Mullin said Bardo had a “transformational vision” for WSU.

“He led the development of Innovation Campus, which brought new buildings and improvements to Wichita State that are remarkable,” Mullin said in a KBOR press release. “However, even more important are the opportunities for students that he worked so hard to create. His action positioned the university as an economic driver and a leader in applied learning.”

Bardo was selected in 2012 to succeed Donald Beggs as WSU’s 13th president.

Bardo was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1948. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in economics, and from Ohio University with a master’s degree in sociology before earning his doctorate from Ohio State in 1973.

Fresh out of college, Bardo was hired on as a sociology professor at Wichita State, where he served for five years before becoming the liberal arts and sciences dean at Southwest Texas State University — now Texas State.

Bardo then served in administrative roles at the University of North Florida (1986-90) and Bridgewater State College (1990-93). He was named chancellor of Western Carolina University in 1995, and held the position for 16 years.

In April 2012, the Kansas Board of Regents named Bardo president of WSU.

Bardo is survived by his wife, Deborah — who he first met at WSU as a young professor — and their son, Christopher.

Provost Rick Muma has been serving as acting president since January.

The release invites anyone interested in sharing memories, bringing cards, or signing commemorative notes to come by the President’s Office in Morrison Hall between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.