Perspectives: WSU & WATC

This is Perspectives, where Wichitans tell their side of a common story. Dr. John Bardo of WSU and Dr. Sheree Utash of WATC talk about higher education.


Welcome to Perspectives, where we give Wichitans the opportunity to tell their side of a common story.

Dr. John Bardo of Wichita State University and Dr. Sheree Utash of the Wichita Area Technical College share their thoughts on a proposed affiliation that would have WATC become the WSU Campus of Applied Science and Technology, with Utash becoming the school's executive director and dean.

DR. JOHN BARDO, president of Wichita State University:

In an increasingly complex global marketplace, the success of our state’s economy requires a proactive, innovative approach to higher education.

Wichita State University and Wichita Area Technical College have joined forces to meet this challenge. Together, we are leveraging missions and ongoing collaborations to create a new model for higher education to serve as a catalyst of prosperity for generations to come.

This affiliation has tremendous promise to build the state’s pool of highly-skilled workers and attract new businesses through education, innovation and economic growth.

A WSU/WATC affiliation will provide a clear path for students who are uneasy about jumping into a four-year college environment. It will allow them to gain exposure to innovation, applied learning and research, all within the Wichita community. Imagine a student taking this track from a GED to Ph.D.

Best of all, the proposed affiliation will be able to deliver all of these tangible advantages without changing the institutional funding formulas currently in place.

Kansas companies need access to a skilled, job-ready workforce to thrive. By providing a clear sequence of education courses and credentials that meet the needs of high-demand industries, this affiliation will be a catalyst for a major increase in the number of highly skilled workers who are ready to contribute to Kansas businesses from their first day on the job.

Growth for Wichita. Opportunity for Kansas. Innovation for the world. Responsiveness to industry. Economic success for all stakeholders. The WSU/WATC affiliation is a pioneering educational concept that deserves the support of everyone concerned with the advancement of the Kansas economy.

DR. SHEREE UTASH, president of the Wichita Area Technical College:

WSU and WATC have become close partners in the regional higher education community. With the proposed affiliation, we will be able to impact far more students than either school can likely impact individually.

While four-year universities are an important aspect of higher education, career technical programs are often overlooked despite offering high-demand, high-paying jobs often with less investment upfront.

For these students, we designed the Wichita Promise, which is a scholarship program designed to increase Wichita’s skilled workforce by removing barriers that keep individuals from training.

This program pays tuition and fees for specific high-wage, high-demand jobs, and provides training, credentials, certification, personal career coaching with WATC’s Career Services department and a guaranteed interview upon completion.

WATC began the Wichita Promise in August of 2016 with funds that supported existing scholarships. Since then several companies and organizations have come forward to donate funds to be a part of the Wichita Promise scholarship program.

More than 150 students have received benefits from Wichita Promise funds this academic year. New high-wage, high-demand programs with scholarship opportunities for students will be available with Wichita Promise funds beginning in August of 2017.

We invite companies and organizations throughout our community to engage with WATC in the Wichita Promise to remove barriers for students in order to increase our skilled workforce.

With the proposed affiliation with Wichita State, the Wichita Promise could become a gateway for students to go further in their education than they ever would have thought possible.


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