Forward Together

Wichita State: A new university

Dr. Richard Muma

Dr. Rick Muma, president

Several months ago, my son — who’s working on a doctorate in higher education at the University of Georgia, Institute of Higher Education— introduced me to the book “Broke” by Laura T. Hamilton and Kelly Nielsen.

One particularly interesting concept peppered throughout the book is the model of a “new” type of university, which was originally coined by Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University and defined in “Broke” as universities that “organize around inclusion, rather than exclusion, and focus on offering social mobility to students.”  

The book resonated with me as it was the first time I’ve read a book that describes universities like Wichita State that are committed to serving students in our community, and in our case, where nearly one-half of our undergraduate student body identify as first-generation, one out of four of our freshmen identify as an underrepresented minority, and one in five of all students who are eligible for a Pell grant in Kansas public universities are enrolled at Wichita State University.

New universities, like Wichita State, also have a strong drive and focus on research as a means of not only promoting the prestige and intellectual capacity of the university, but also attracting grants, donations, and paid applied learning opportunities, which translate into scholarships and other forms of resources for students.

In short, new universities recognize and prioritizes their duty and obligation to serve their students and help the communities they serve.

Sound familiar? In essence and at our core, Wichita State University is a new university. We are driven by the privilege and responsibility to serve our campus community, greater Wichita, and the state of Kansas. It is what informs and shapes our priorities:

  • To provide an accessible, affordable, and impactful higher education for all Kansans.
  • Accelerate applied learning opportunities for our students.
  • Elevate Wichita State as a premier, urban public research university.

Intrinsic to the communities we serve is a powerful diversity component that defines and enriches Shocker Nation. Our location at the heart of our state’s most populous city brings with it an array of cultures, races, social and economic demographics, faiths, and education. We would be remiss to ignore that array of experience; even more so if we did not embrace it on our path to achieving our potential.

The tenets of new universities are not radical ideas, but rather essential apparatus for us to continue to thrive as a sustainable and vital institution.

In the near future, I plan to lead conversations around “Broke” and what being a new university means to Shocker Nation, and I hope you’ll be part of that discussion.

Go Shockers!


Dr. Rick Muma

President of Wichita State University