Yesterday, Taylor and I attended the New Staff Orientation. We accidentally missed our chance to attend last fall, and needed to cross this final item off our “recent hire” list. During the orientation we were introduced to quite a few important names around Wichita State’s campus. After being introduced by Frankie M. Kirkendoll, Director of Human Resources, Dr. John W. Bardo, the President of WSU, took the stage.
Bardo outlined his ongoing plan for the future of Wichita State. As with many WSU functions, the word “innovation” was tossed around a lot, but for the first time, I felt that I understood what innovation meant for the diversity of our campus. “Historically,” Bardo stated, “Wichita residents have been very entrepreneurial.” Major brands have been started in this area: Pizza Hut, White Castle, Freddy’s, Garmin, Coleman–the list goes on. “But,” Bardo argued” large companies pushed out the small ones. Eventually, this city lost that spirit.” You can see the loss of the entrepreneurial spirit if you take a close look at this city. Large aircraft companies broke Wichita’s spirt as they overtook small businesses and eventually took their business elsewhere. Our largest commodity has become the “high-quality workers” that continue to leave our town.
So how does Wichita regain competitiveness? If you ask Bardo, the answer is innovation and diversity. As President Bardo stated during his talk with us, about 15% of Wichita’s population is made up of African American and Hispanic residents. As Wichita State continues to grow, it is this population of students the university hopes to engage with. The huge electronic revolution that has occured in the past twenty years means that differing cultures can now communicate with one another more easily and more frequently. Although Bardo pointed to social media as the major tool WSU can use to engage students from varying cultures, I believe that WSU Online can continue to help bridge the gap between cultures, increase diversity on our campus, and breath new life into our city. For Bardo, innovation means treating diversity as one of the greatest tools available on a college campus. Innovation is synonymous with diversification.
In honor of Black History Month, we’ll be blogging about diversity in online learning here at Wichita State. We’ll talk to you about some of our diversity offerings, our diverse faculty and students, and the ways in which we engage students from various backgrounds and cultures. Stay tuned for more information about diversity at WSU Online.