Dr. Bardo forged strong partnerships and touched many lives on and off campus during his six-and-a-half years as president of Wichita State University. Here are some of the things being said about his impact on people, the university and the city of Wichita.
"He was a breath of fresh air and a visionary who saw where this community could go and how this university could lead us there better than anybody else."
— Harvey Sorensen, partner, Foulston Siefkin LLP
"He was the right person at the right moment in time. I can’t envision anyone else who could have done it better. He was looking 40 years into the future. His creativity and broad vision of education that he brought to the university has changed it forever."
— David Mitchell, 1970, 1972 alumnus and WSU Innovation Alliance board member
"President Bardo permanently changed Wichita for the better with his vision of what the university could be for its students and the city. He put a very capable team in place. His legacy is secure."
— David Murfin, chairman and CEO, Murfin Inc. and Kansas Board of Regents member
"He lived and breathed Wichita State. He often said WSU was the only university he would go to at this stage in his career. This university was everything."
— Elizabeth King, president, WSU Foundation
"John was an anomaly in the academic world — a unique mix of academic experience, social conscience and business acumen. He saw how the university could play a much more dominant and valuable role in the local, state and regional community. He had a vision to move the university forward and was decisive in executing it."
— Steve Clark, WSU graduate and former Kansas Board of Regents chair
"To see all of the changes to our physical campus, as well as the changes in our student population on campus, has been phenomenal. When you walk on campus now at Wichita State, there is a different vibe. You see 10 times as many people as when I first came here. The changes have been eye-popping."
— Gregg Marshall, Head Coach, WSU Men's Basketball Team
"John Bardo was very committed to the university. Shirley and I have watched his leadership from afar as he has implemented his plans to move the university forward. Our hearts go out to Deborah and their family."
— Donald Beggs, former president, Wichita State University
"Many people have a vision of what could be. It is rare to find an individual with both the vision and the capability to make that vision a reality. Dr. Bardo was one of those very special leaders who could do both. His creation of an Innovation Campus at Wichita State University will continue to pay dividends for generations to come and is truly a lasting legacy."
— John O'Leary, vice president and general manager, Airbus Americas Engineering
"Dr. John Bardo was a trailblazer, leader and friend. He made a path for me to become the first African American vice president in the history of WSU. As a leader, he promoted people to reach higher, dream bigger and achieve greater. He will be missed."
— Marche Fleming-Randle, vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement
"His vision has transformed the physical presence of the university ... (but) even more, his vision has transformed the quality of education provided to the students via an applied learning model – an education that uniquely prepares students for the needs of tomorrow’s workforce."
— Pierre Harter, Director, New Program Development and Advanced Manufacturing Strategy, Spirit AeroSystems Inc
"My condolences on the passing of Dr. Bardo. What a loss for both the university and the community. He was an inspirational leader who made a huge impact on so many in such a short time. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire university team at this time."
— Kara Hunt, Vice President of Human Resources, Delta Dental of Kansas
"President Bardo’s background in sociology, economics and psychology helped him explain the interconnection of the university, government and private business and how, by working towards a common goal, our efforts could actually compound the growth. I’ve been amazed at how quickly change has happened. We need to honor him by keeping the momentum going."
— Susayn Brandes, President, Great Plains Ventures
"John had a unique and transformational vision for Wichita State University. He brought new buildings and improvements to Wichita State that are remarkable. 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."
— Dennis Mullin, chair, Kansas Board of Regents
"Dr. John Bardo had an incredible impact not only at WSU, but to our entire community. He was a visionary and saw what could be rather than simply what was. His legacy will live on to impact generations of students. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones."
— Jeff Longwell, mayor, city of Wichita
"Dr. Bardo was a highly respected and innovative administrator who was deeply committed to Wichita State and to the Wichita community, and who believed fervently in the importance of public research universities. He was a visionary who had a transformative impact on Wichita State and who led the University through a period of rapid and tremendous growth. A teacher, a nationally-recognized scholar and a consummate gentleman, he will be greatly missed ."
— Mike Aresco, Commissioner, American Athletic Conference
"Dr. John Bardo built a strong foundation to insure this University and community will continue to be a leader throughout the country. Many are already looking to what he built as a model for their own institutions and communities. His patience, vision, insight, leadership, mentorship, guidance and friendship will never be forgotten."
— David H. Moses, General Counsel, Wichita State University
"Even during his illness these last few months, Dr. Bardo remained keenly interested in the work of the university. The strategy, vision, mission and goals developed under his leadership will continue to guide us as we move forward, together."
— Rick Muma, provost and acting president, Wichita State University
"He set the strategic course for the university to be successful for many years into the future. He will be sorely missed. On a personal note, he changed my professional life by providing me the opportunity to lead the strategic planning process for the university and to serve as interim dean of the Barton business school. These experiences prepared me in many ways for my current City Council position."
— Cindy Claycomb, City Council member and former WSU administrator
"Dr. Bardo was a generous, kind and wise man. He had a vision for WSU and dedicated his life to bring it to fruition. He believed the university could provide more value to students in the future. Dr. Bardo's journey will be admired, and he will be revered."
— Bailey Bryand, innovation design graduate student, former President’s Office intern
"Dr. Bardo cared about WSU and the Wichita community more than anyone I know. He persevered through backlash and doubt to create a truly amazing place to learn and grow as students and future professionals."
— Morgan Ward, former President’s Office intern