Bardo shares vision, funding needs for WSU's Innovation Campus
Wichita State University President John Bardo presented WSU’s case for special funding priorities in FY 2016 and FY 2017 at a Kansas Board of Regents workshop today (Tuesday, July 22) in Topeka, Kan.
The No. 1 priority cited by Bardo is the need to support economic innovation, diversification and technology transfer. He is requesting $3 million for 100 doctoral research fellowships and $1.7 million for positions and operating support for technology transfer and business infrastructure.
In addition, the Wichita State president is asking for one-time funding of $12 million for construction of an Innovation Center on the Innovation Campus.
Bardo noted that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) research is critical, especially in applied engineering, as the source of new products and processes.
He also said competitive doctoral research fellowships are a critical component of the new economy economic base. Doctoral students provide the crucial bridge between private sector and university researchers, Bardo said.
In addition, Bardo wants to help attract more American doctoral students with competitive salaries. Several areas of research require citizenship or green card to work on projects. Current funding tends to attract international students, not U.S. nationals.
WSU’s funding request is at the new National Science Foundation’s rate for doctoral student support in critical STEM fields.
In the meeting, Bardo said that the Innovation Campus will include a new building, housing both the W. Frank Barton School of Business and the Innovation Center. It is anticipated that 50 percent of the building cost will provided by private funding as part of the WSU Foundation campaign. An anticipated construction start date has yet to be determined.
The Innovation Center will encourage “collisions” among people with different backgrounds to encourage creativity and innovation, said Bardo, noting that it will be based on the Hunt Library model at North Carolina State University.
According to Bardo, Brookings Institution studies show that these types of spaces are crucial for an innovation-based economy. Wichita State also will work with the city of Wichita on possibly creating other innovation centers away from campus.
Priority No. 2 is a request for $15 million for innovation equipment. Base budget funding of $5 million is needed for expenditures to extend and refresh technology in crucial areas. Another $10 million of one-time funding is necessary to jump-start funding for laboratories and equipment.
The rationale for the request is that technology is crucial to the innovation economy. Technology changes rapidly and revenue is needed to keep up. And Wichita State will be a “test bed” for applying new technologies to create innovation-based businesses and to promote existing business competitiveness.
Vision and mission
The budget requests directly address the vision and mission of Wichita State. Bardo noted that the requests are key components of a larger initiative involving both community and the university.
The request strongly supports development of the Innovation Campus at WSU.
Finally, the budget request works closely with the city and local economic interests to encourage development of a broad technology-based economy in south-central Kansas.
All six Kansas Regents universities presented special funding requests for FY 2016-17 at an informational Regents workshop today (Tuesday, July 22).