WSU, Old Town partnering to create ‘WSU Old Town’


The proposed transition of WSU facilities to Old Town include takeover of the Airbus Americas location on north Mead.

When Wichita State University announced last week that Airbus Americas would move out of Old Town onto the Innovation Campus, concerns were raised about the void that would follow Airbus’ departure from downtown.

However, WSU quickly remedied that problem in a public announcement Tuesday morning.

Wichita State announced plans for a commitment to downtown Wichita with the creation of WSU Old Town. The creation will be a complex of facilities and services that will relocate to historic Old Town.

The plan involves relocating several WSU units to Old Town. The units that will be relocated include:

• KMUW Public Radio

• Center for Management Development

• Center for Economic Development and Business Research

• Center for Community Support and Research

• Center for Combatting Human Trafficking

• College of Health Professions’ Training and Technology Team

• Physical Assistant and Physical Therapy graduate degree programs

President John Bardo said the plan to relocate these groups to Old Town was not done by accident.

“We really do feel as though if you look at the Old Town downtown corridor,” he said, “that it is really important if we’re going to be successful in the community for this area of tow to continue to evolve and develop and be a hub.”

According to a news release, WSU anticipates 200 faculty and staff working in Old Town, and 300 students will be involved in classes or clinical work in Old Town. In addition, the news release stated more than 15,000 visitors will attend educational settings, meetings and community activities in the planned WSU facilities.

Bardo said some of the moves will start this summer and occur through early 2017. Airbus will move to campus in January 2017, when WSU will take over that facility. Bardo said KMUW will move locations as quickly as possible.

“We are the franchise for public radio in this area and we think it’s important that we respond to the whole community and have the kind of facilities necessary to allow them to do what they can for the campus and community,” Bardo said.

Bardo added that he hopes KMUW’s audience can expand and grow once the move is complete.

Debra Fraser, general manager of KMUW, has only been a part of Wichita since last summer. But, she said, it has been a spectacular ride.

Fraser said KMUW will neighbor the Wichita Business Journal, and be close to the Wichita Eagle after the move. She said she is excited about being close to other news outlets.

“One block like that, I think, will absolutely expand the voice of Wichita, really no matter what,” she said. “We are so grateful and privileged to be a part of this great WSU Old Town growth.”

Jason Van Sickle, president of the Old Town Association and a 2001 WSU graduate, welcomed the news of WSU expanding into Old Town.

He said WSU is one of the largest employers in the area, and the move to Old Town will help the economy.

“This really is going to be an economic stimulus, not just for Old Town, but also for downtown,” Van Sickle said.

For Bardo, all the changes involving Innovation Campus are happening because WSU is thinking about the future.

“We have an illustrious past, we have a great past,” he said. “But, we’re about the future.”