This week’s news in brief — Nov. 3

Alleged bike thief apprehended after numerous thefts on campus

The Wichita State University Police Department took a man into custody who was suspected of stealing a student’s bicycle on the morning of Oct. 29th. The man, who was identified on camera, was seen tampering with student bicycles before cutting one free of its lock and riding away on it. 

Officers later found and apprehended the man, who gave a full confession. He was also noted to be wearing the same clothing that was observed on video of a bike theft earlier in the month. In his possession, arresting officers found a set of bolt cutters, which the man had been using to cut through WSU Flats and Suites students’ bike locks. 

A second suspect was also identified from video footage obtained in collaboration with another law enforcement agency, but the man has yet to be found and questioned. WSUPD also made note that several students will, to avoid long walks to class, find and take bicycles without locks and ride them to class before leaving them in different bike racks. Until the number of bike thefts on campus decreases, Chief of Police Guy Schroeder has asked officers to monitor bike racks regularly and encourages students to purchase locks for their bicycles.

New commuter plans to alleviate some student ticket and parking fees

For the upcoming 2023 school year, the State Employee Health Plan will provide two new commuter Federal Student Aid (FSA) plans to reimburse specific transportation fees. For students, this could mean that fees, such as transit tickets or passes, could be paid back to the student later in the year, depending on their transportation methods.

The Parking FSA will allow parking reimbursement. While this policy is not applicable to WSU employees (their parking fees are directly deducted from their paychecks), students will be able to apply for parking reimbursement and will even have the option to have it easily accessible from their enrollment portal.

The Mass Transit plan will reimburse students who purchase mass transit tickets or passes, whether through buses or Kansas vanpools. However, only certain specific means of mass transportation are eligible for reimbursement.

Students or staff interested in the new plans can learn more through the SEHP Enrollment Guide 2023.

Associate Professor of Music named outstanding musician

Wichita State program director of arts leadership and management and assistant professor of music Andrea Banke was named the Burton Pell award winner by the Wichita Arts Council. Along with the Pell award, Banke has received recognition in her field and the Micky and Pete Armstrong Excellence in Teaching and the Anita Jones Fine Arts Fellowship awards. 

“I’m really honored to be recognized for my individual contributions to the whole musical community of Wichita,” Banke said. “It makes me feel really included and special.”

Banke will be honored on Nov. 3 with an awards dinner with other award recipients for other Arts Council Awards. The Burton Pell award is given annually to an individual in the Wichita area who exhibits outstanding musicianship. Banke plans to continue exhibiting the traits that won her the Pell award by putting that energy and passion directly into her students,

“My greatest joy, and my greatest responsibility now, is to teach my students how to deeply hear, comprehend and appreciate the music they perform,” Banke said.

Muma and Harrison named NAACP award recipients

Wichita State University President Rick Muma was named Wichita’s NAACP Person of the Year for his accomplishments in promoting diversity and inclusivity in and around Wichita State Campus. As the school’s first openly gay president, Muma has made many active efforts to uplift Wichita’s underrepresented communities through leadership, increasing community involvement and activities, and contributing to scholarships, such as the Muma and Case Equity Scholarship.

Kevin Harrison, the director of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as the Cohen Honors College “Black Lives Matter and Other Marginalized Perspectives” professor, was given the H.N. Sims Excellence in Education Award. Through his courses and other leadership roles, Harrison provides his students with a thorough and complex understanding of what it means to be Black in America.

Stephanie Pham and Amanda Moler awarded full-ride scholarships

Medical Laboratory Science students Stephanie Pham and Amanda Moler were awarded a $280,000 scholarship from Southcentral Pathology Laboratory to fully finance the pair’s education. Pham and Moler were nominated by the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences and were selected based on merit and financial need.

Dr. Joel Alderson, president of Southcentral Pathology and director for the Molecular Diagnostics Lab at WSU, created the award due to the national shortage of medical laboratory scientists and, through the scholarship, hopes to provide the much-needed financial resources for students who would struggle to finance their education otherwise.

Muma gifts two additional paid days off for WSU employees

In anticipation of the holiday season and the end of the 2022 year, WSU President Rick Muma announced that all WSU benefits-eligible employees will be gifted two additional personal days away from work during the time that the campus is closed for winter break. Muma gave the additional time off as “a token of my appreciation” in a WSU News address posted on Oct. 21. 

The time off can only be utilized between Dec. 21, 2022, to Jan. 2, 2023, in what is referred to as a “campus shutdown.”