When we began our IEP self-study, we made a deliberate decision to incorporate its planning as part of our strategic plan refresh. Our intention was to ensure that our IEP application accurately reflected the vision, mission, and priorities of our institution. In the spring of 2019, Wichita State began the process of refreshing our strategic plan to make it more reflective of our values as an institution. Stakeholders throughout Shocker Nation — students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and community members — were involved in this planning, which is constantly evolving to reflect the communities we serve.

Our IEP application process was endorsed by Wichita State’s president and the executive vice president/provost. The IEP steering committee was made up of representatives from across campus and provided guidance and insight for the application process and helped to determine areas of celebration and opportunity. Additionally, consultants were engaged to provide context for what we were seeing on the regional and national levels.

In 2019, to gather and understand perceptions from the community about WSU’s brand, the university began collecting and summarizing data from various university surveys conducted in recent years, as well as conducting additional focus groups and an online survey, to provide a comprehensive view of the university from the outside. Data sources included the following:

  • The 2016 Climate Study Survey by Hanover Research
  • The 2019 APLU Institutional Transformation Assessment
  • Surveys conducted between 2015 and 2018 from enrolled and non-matriculating students to provide insight into longer-term trends in university brand and perception

In spring 2020, Wichita State’s Public Policy and Management Center issued a focused brand survey to stakeholders throughout the Shocker community, and 1,525 unique responses were captured. The survey found that there is support for the direction of WSU, including creating place-based activities to increase the student and visitor campus experience and the relationship between the university and community. There was also support for Wichita State’s focus on applied learning.

In June 2020, the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) adopted “Building a Future,” a strategic plan for the state’s public higher education system that seeks to serve Kansas families, businesses and the state’s economic prosperity. When the plan was introduced, all KBOR institutions were challenged to adjust their strategic plans to complement “Building a Future.” Wichita State’s plan was already closely aligned. When we drilled down into specifics for economic prosperity, we set our sights on the following goals:

  • Expand and diversify our economy to become a nationally recognized leader of the digital transformation, SMART Manufacturing, student-launched enterprises, and innovation in health sciences and new technologies.
  • Develop strategic partners with leading domestic and international research and innovation institutions.
  • Enter into financially prudent public-private partnerships on university-owned property that provides services and amenities for Wichita State and our neighbors.

The Kansas Department of Commerce put forth a 15-year strategic plan, the “Kansas Framework for Growth”, in February 2021. This plan is the first comprehensive economic development strategy for the state since 1986. The framework is grounded in four pillars: talent, innovation, community assets, and policy.  Again, WSU’s strategic plan supported the commerce plan, ensuring that Wichita State continues to play a key role in the local, regional, and national economic prosperity.


2020 IEP Cohort Workshop at Wichita State

In February 2020, Wichita State University was proud to welcome 39 campus leaders who were spearheading their institution’s IEP process for APLU’s first campus-hosted Innovation and Economic Prosperity Cohort Workshop.  Wichita State University volunteered to host this first-of-its-kind conference to facilitate and encourage a community of practice among the many and varied institutions participating in APLU’s IEP Universities program. The conference was designed by IEP cohort members and APLU IEP staff to help participating institutions work through the application processes but, more importantly, maximize the value and strategy enhancements stemming from the IEP self-study experience.   Working sessions were focused on “know, measure, tell, and grow and improve”—the key strategy focus points of the economic engagement framework as well as the “talent, innovation, and place” facets of economic engagement. The detailed agenda and speaker list can be found here. The highlight of the conference came from the sharing of best practices between universities and the importance of the self-study process itself, which Wichita State values just as highly as obtaining the designation itself.   Key takeaways from the conference were not only the benefit of networking with other colleagues and universities pursuing the IEP designation, but also the differing perspectives of what talent, innovation and place mean to other public universities and colleges, and the great work that is being done across the country.  In addition, the working sessions provided time to start fleshing out the application with other universities. The conference also gave Wichita State the opportunity to illuminate the IEP process for faculty, students, and the Wichita community.  For faculty, how WSU is part of a wide-ranging community doing work in economic and community development; for students, how the achievements and opportunities that have come to light through the IEP process directly benefits their educational experience; and for members of the Wichita community, why what WSU is doing through the IEP process is so important as well as the role the University plays in economic engagement.