Episode 3 - Providing Access to Higher Education

Episode 3 February 04, 2022 00:26:09
Episode 3 - Providing Access to Higher Education
Forward Together
Episode 3 - Providing Access to Higher Education

Feb 04 2022 | 00:26:09


Show Notes

Watch a video of the podcast The “Forward Together” podcast celebrates the vision and mission of Wichita State University. In each episode, President Rick Muma will talk with guests from throughout Shocker Nation to highlight the people and priorities that guide WSU on its road to becoming an essential educational, cultural, and economic driver for […]
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 Hello, shocker nation. And welcome to this month's edition of forward together podcast. Today. I want to talk about what you tell state university's priority of making higher education assessable, and how that helps us build a stronger community and a stronger Kansas, not only that, but when we give more people access to affordable education that educated and highly skilled workforce helps our community flourish and businesses grow and succeed in our state's economy. Prosper. My first guest today is John Roth, president and CEO of Wichita chamber of commerce, native Wichitan and a shocker alone. Thank you for being here, John. So good to see you. Um, we go back a little bit, um, in our time and our always, I'm always happy to see you and have conversation with you and hear more about what's on your mind. Um, especially now, since you are the president and CEO of the Wichita chamber of commerce. Congratulations on that. Um, I'm looking forward to, uh, hearing more about your work. Thank you. Um, and of course, welcome back to campus. Thank you. Um, as an alumni, I'd love to hear your most fun Shakur memory. Speaker 2 00:01:15 Well, you know, there's quite a few of those I could, uh, I don't know if there's one that just really stands out, but I've had a number of them from watching the shockers when they, uh, when the, uh, to advance to the final four and won the game over K U it was 66 to 65 to, uh, the wonderful Hippodrome days that used to take place here, Wichita state. But I think the one that stands out the most in my mind for me, and it's a little personal is, uh, when I was nominated and, uh, had the honor of being selected as the Wichita's state young alumnus award. It was quite an honor. And, uh, one that I'll always remember and Cherice, and it was, uh, so great to, uh, receive Speaker 1 00:01:57 That would. Yeah. And I remember that, uh, it's, uh, an honor for us to be able to recognize you, and you've been such a great member of the Wichita community and of course our Shakur Shakur nation. So of course, uh, this is, uh, an award that we would not think twice about when we, um, when we gave that to you. Um, talk to me about your time at Wichita state and how it prepared you for your career, specifically your current role. Speaker 2 00:02:26 Well, my time here, which tossed state certainly was a great one. It, I enjoyed it and just by the way, I have, you know, four, I have five siblings, there are four other siblings, and I should say a total of five of us, but, uh, four of the five of us are Wichita state graduates, uh, with, to, uh, to have advanced degrees. But, you know, my time for me, I was working in the banking industry part-time um, and as a matter of fact, I actually, uh, started here and, uh, was able to get a job part-time through, uh, the career services center here. And, uh, and it was in banking. And so, uh, Wichita state, I was a finance and banking, finance, and business major. And which does state, I believe did a great job in educating me in, in that particular, uh, uh, degree. Speaker 2 00:03:12 And, uh, I continued on in banking, uh, which finance was certainly, um, uh, important in that regard. Um, as I became, went from part-time to full-time, uh, obviously my education, whether it was the presentations in my speech classes, um, certainly the understanding of financials and that type of thing were certainly important and helped me advance in my career, but certainly today, you know, having a good understanding of financials and what they're, what those statements are saying to, to me and, uh, to the company, um, is important. And so Wichita state prepared me very well, I believe, uh, for, for, not only this role that I'm currently in, but my previous roles Speaker 1 00:03:54 As well. Yeah. And one of the things that you're getting at is really around, um, our priorities at the institution. You know, we're talking about, uh, access and affordability and, and how, um, being able to get a degree at Wichita state helps people, um, uh, move forward in their lives. Um, but one of the things that you're getting at there, at least in my mind is a hold applied learning experience that, that is really meant to get students focused around their careers and starting their careers and helping businesses meet that, um, talent need that they have. Um, so I'm, I'm happy to hear that even in the days when you were a student, that that was a focus of yours and helped you move, move you along the way. Um, one of the priorities that you've laid out at the chamber as recruiting and retaining the workforce in Wichita, uh, related to what we were just what I just said. Um, so what's your strategy for this? And, and from your perspective and your role, what are, what are you seeing as Wichita state's role in helping move your priorities forward at the, at the chamber? Speaker 2 00:05:02 Certainly recruiting and retaining talent is certainly a top priority for not only the chamber, but many organizations, but, uh, from a chamber perspective is it's very important and, uh, multiple strategies and doing that. And I would say it's a, a big collaboration air effort. I don't believe any one organization can do that. And so it, it takes that collaboration and multiple partners, uh, and community organizations, education institutions as well, uh, to make that happen. And certainly Wichita state, uh, has been a key part key part of that, and certainly a partner of ours in that effort. Um, but we have multiple things where, uh, that we're involved with as it relates to that talent piece. Um, we have a young professionals organization, uh, that, uh, we have to engage, um, our young professionals in the community, connect them with various resources and really give them a great, um, view of Wichita and engaging them in, uh, the, the area and what there is to do what a great place it is. Speaker 2 00:06:04 And hopefully it helps, uh, retain them here and not leave, uh, this community, uh, through that program. And others, we even develop, help, uh, connect them with mentors that can help them grow professionally as well as personally, although it's more focused on professionally. And I know there are a number of Wichita's state, uh, individuals from Wichita state grad grad. So I should say that, uh, uh, part of that mentoring program. And so, uh, that's a key part. Um, I would say there, there are obviously other partners that we're working with. I know one, uh, program called campus Wichita, which is a new initiative that we kicked off late last year, but is in high gear this year as well. We're connecting, uh, students, uh, in it is, it involves eight, uh, regional universities that, uh, those students of all ages, we connect them with employers, uh, that are looking for interns. Speaker 2 00:06:59 So in the, during the summer, they're able to do internships and learn about their, uh, their profession that they want to go in and work in those, uh, in those companies with the anticipation and the goal of ultimately once they graduate, they become employers, employees of those companies or other companies in their field of interest and stay here in Wichita and Wichita state is, is, is one of those, uh, universities that are partnering with us in those, in those efforts. Um, and there's some other initiatives that, uh, we're working with, uh, in terms of retirement, retiring airmen, um, here in, in the area, um, that are retiring. And of course there are various ages that they might retire, uh, out of the air force or, or other, um, uh, air basis or military, uh, areas. And so we are connecting those individuals, uh, with, uh, the talent that they have and the skill sets with other employers in the area. So that's one of the new initiatives that we're working with. Um, and certainly, again, as I've said, it's not just, uh, the chamber by itself, but it's partnering with, uh, institutions like Wichita state or, um, at the regional area economic partnership workforce Alliance, or the greater Wichita partnership. So it's a collaboration of multiple, uh, organizations in our efforts to, again, address, uh, the talent need, uh, retain individuals here and hopefully grow, continue to grow our economy, uh, with great employers that we have. Speaker 1 00:08:27 Yeah, and I, I just, this reminds me, um, of, uh, previous podcasts. We had, uh, James Chung, I'm, I'm sure you're familiar with him, he's benchmarked, uh, benchmark the city and, uh, on various different parameters and, uh, to help us be a better city and a community. And one of the things that he said, and that, that interview with, uh, that I had with him is that successful cities in terms of growing talent and making sure that, um, we're doing everything we can to keep people here, um, have figured out how to work with higher education. Um, and one of our proudest accomplishments, uh, at least in my perspective, but I know that many others is that when she talks to it really has how have figured out how to work with organizations like yourself or the greater Wichita partnership or the workforce Alliance to, to really help feed their needs. And then this role reciprocal kinds of, uh, activities that, that, that happen. And so, um, I think, uh, a lot of people would think now that Wichita state with the chamber and some of these other organizations are really working well together. Cause we all have the same interest and the same ideas about how we make our city stronger and our community stronger Speaker 2 00:09:45 Most definitely. And it's, uh, we believe it it's working and we're going to see the results of it. Not only immediately, but certainly in the long uh long-term as we move forward. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:09:55 So, um, speaking again of, uh, attracting talent to Wichita in 2012, uh, you went to Houston for a career opportunity. I know all about Houston. I grew up there, very familiar with that community. Um, and I remember our actually, um, uh, reading about you going down there and I was kind of wondering, well, how's that, what's that what's he going to do down there? Um, but you came back to serve, uh, as a chamber, uh, now as a chamber president, you originally came back this, this time when you worked for the Kansas leadership center, and then now you've moved into this role, uh, as the head of the chamber. Um, what was it that you missed about Wichita and what brought you back? Speaker 2 00:10:37 Well, I always go back to the famous, uh, line there there's no place like home and Wichita is, and has always been home regardless of what city I've I've lived in. And, you know, I, I think for me, uh, probably the biggest thing and, uh, for always wanting to be a part of Wichita and come back to Wichita is always it's about family and being close to my family, um, is very important. And it was one of the things that I miss and not just family, but really the people, the genuineness, uh, of people here in the city. Um, it's a great place to live. It's a great place to do business, and it's a great place to, to play. As I say, um, we have some wonderful things that go on in the city, um, and certainly the, the cost of living and the affordability is, is absolutely wonderful. And while there are other cities that I've lived in that are great cities, including Houston, uh, I tell you, I, there's nothing like having daily an extra, maybe two hours of your time, uh, and not necessarily on the road, uh, and being able to have access to so many things and in great amenities, but also that, uh, quality of life in the great people. And of course, family being Speaker 1 00:11:52 The number one. Yeah. And what John is referring to sitting in traffic, because it could take anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes to three or four hours to get to work, depending on what's going on on those highways down in, down in Houston. And we're also very pleased that, that you came back to Wichita and serving in the way that you're serving our community and, and happy to see also, uh, your wife, Felicia Rauf, um, on television again at channel 12. So, um, so we're very pleased to see you all back here in Wichita. So thank you so much for being here today. John, I look forward to working with you and your further strengthening of our partnership between Wichita state university and the Wichita regional chamber of commerce. Thank you so much for being here. Well, present MoMA, Speaker 2 00:12:37 Thank you as well. It's been a pleasure. Speaker 1 00:12:42 My next guest is a familiar face, the shock, our basketball fans, Wichita state men's basketball coach. Isaac brown came to Wichita state as an assistant coach in 2014, and it was named head coach in 2020. Well, we all know him for his ability to motivate his team, to perform on the court. He's equally passionate about preparing the athletes for life after college and emphasizing the importance of higher education athletics, whether it's basketball, track or field or volleyball can provide student athletes, students access to education and athletic scholarships can help make higher education more affordable. Thank you for being here today, coach brown. I really look forward to having a conversation with you and talk about some of these issues. Speaker 3 00:13:23 Thanks for having me on the show. Always a pleasure to sit down and visit which Speaker 1 00:13:27 So obviously we're here to talk about, um, WSU and overall our priorities. Um, but before we start, cause I know that people will be interested. Um, can you give me, uh, an idea of how the basketball season is going Speaker 3 00:13:41 Right now? We're 10 and seven. Um, we're one in four in conference. We got off to a good start this year. We went out to Vegas, we beat UNLB. We went on the road, we beat Missouri. That's a big win going into sec conference, getting a non-conference. When we went on the road and one at Oklahoma state, um, in conference, we got off to a slow start. We lost of Houston. Um, Memphis beat us at home. We went through the covert protocol. Uh, we were missing a couple of guys. We lost two games at home. Um, the guys really fought hard this week. We had a couple of really good practices and we're able to pull a game out last night over central Florida as a good basketball team and our conference. Speaker 1 00:14:22 Well, and I was there last night and definitely reading for the team and for you and your coaching staff, uh, it was a great game and we're looking forward to the, uh, the rest of the season. So you may remember this when I hired you as a basketball coach. Um, one of the things that, that you said to me, uh, at that time, that really resonated with me is that that, that you felt that every player needs to finish their degree. And because when the ball stops bouncing, this is what you said. Um, I need to have something to fall back on. Of course, that was music to my ears as a precedent. Um, and first and foremost, we need to make sure everyone finishes their degrees in including athletes. You've mentioned that your mother, Pearl brown, um, is a major influence in your life. I met her out of the tournament out in Las Vegas when she pushed you and your sister to complete your degrees. Um, can you tell me a little bit more about, um, your mother and, and that influence, um, that she had over you and your sister Speaker 3 00:15:26 Growing up in a small town in Mississippi, a single-parent home, my mom wasn't able to get a college degree. Um, she had me at a young age and see always stress education and going to college. And I learned at a young age, I was playing junior high basketball and I got a C on my report card. And I immediately got kicked off the team because my mom, she always stressed education first. And she said, Isaac, if you're going to have an opportunity in life, you got to do good in school. You got to get a college degree and getting a college degree is going to help you down the road, no matter what you're trying to do in life. If you got an education, you got an opportunity to get a job. So she really stressed that growing up. I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to Mississippi Gulf, Gulf coast, junior college. I played at Texas a and M ended up getting a college degree from Louisiana Monroe. My sister went to bale Haven college. She also got a college scholarship and I'm just thankful my mom pushed me to get a college degree, because if you get a college degree, you got a better chance of being successful in life. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:16:31 And you know, I hear lots of stories like that from students and their parents and the influence their parents have, even those parents that, that didn't go to college. Um, and so important for particularly first-generation students, students who come from backgrounds that don't have, um, a lot of, uh, uh, different things afforded to them to have that kind of role model. And I'm at your mother. And I can see, I can see her having that conversation with you. So you played in junior college and all to, um, NCAA division, one schools. You, you also played at, um, you coach in high school, um, junior college and NCAA division one. Um, how was your a variety of experiences or how have they shaped your philosophy, uh, in terms of coaching and education? Speaker 3 00:17:21 I think the biggest thing, um, being a guy that started at the bottom coaching at a junior college coaching in high school, um, at the junior college, I had to watch the kids jerseys. I had to drive the bus. I had to do all the recruiting stuff, you know, on my own in high school, I was over the concession stand again. I had to drive the bus and it just teaches you to be able to work. Um, heart, even though you got less know coming to college, it was an easy transition. When I first got to south Alabama, somebody was driving the bus, somebody was, uh, washing the laundry, doing all that different stuff. And I was able to focus on basketball and being able to coach at a high level school, like Wichita state, where you get private flights to games, you get charters to go recruiting. It's just a lot easier. And it just makes it really, really simple. You know, you can focus on basketball and you don't have to do to other stuff. So it really helped me a lot. Speaker 1 00:18:18 Yeah. And, um, having traveled with you a little bit and your team, I can see how that's really helped shape the Wichita state basketball program. They've had a lot of, a lot of support over the years financially, but also a lot of fans. And, um, I think that does make a difference and, and the players experience your experience. And so that's really great that we have that kind of support here at Wichita state. So in July, uh, former shocker, um, there are Willis, he, he finished his degree three years after his eligibility expired. And that was something that you were very invested in. I remember when we were, um, uh, sitting together the, um, aftershocks, um, games this past summer, um, you actually leaned over and Darryl was there and he said, Hey, you know, do you know what Darrell just finished his degree? Um, and so you're, you're obviously invested in his success and getting updates on his progress. Um, why was that important to you to continue to do that? Even after he left the university Speaker 3 00:19:21 In 2017, um, we recruited Darryl Willis out of Pearl river community college in Poplar VO, Mississippi. When I visited with his mom and dad, uh, me and coach, the first thing we talked about was him getting his college degree. We didn't talk about basketball. We talked about him being successful after the ball stops, bouncing on Darrell Willis did some great things for us on the basketball court. He led us to two conference championships. We got to the NCA tournament twice and he promised his mom that he was going to get his college degree. Um, number one, there were witnesses playing over in Russia. So we wanted to help him through the summer, help him get his college degree. We paid for it. He was fortunate enough to go out due to schoolwork. And now that the basketball is continuing to go well for him, he has something to fall back on. It helps our APR and in a recruiting process when guys like Del Willis can graduate. The first thing another family will ask me, coach, what is your graduation rate? So the fact that Darrell Willis did that, that really helped our program out a lot. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:20:26 Uh, since its incredible story, he's had a lot of success. He was great player. I remember watching him, I'm so happy to see that he got to Wichita state university degree. So how can a coach make sure that their student athletes understand the importance of a college degree? You've mentioned some things, but what are some of the other things that you talked to them about that, that kind of reinforced Speaker 3 00:20:48 That the first thing I talked to guys about when getting your college degree at some point in your life, you're going to have to go into the workforce and having a college degree is going to help you earn more money is a proven fact that, um, students, they get a college degree and people who don't, you're going to make more money. It's going to be harder for you to get jobs. Every job. Now, the first thing they ask you is did you graduate college? Do you have a degree in something? And having that education is just going to help you for a long term in life, getting a better job, being able to get jobs easier, having more contacts, it just helps you Speaker 1 00:21:25 All over. Yeah. And you know, the, the thing about Wichita state is that even student athletes have that ability to connect with businesses, employers and get some of that firsthand experience. I have a lot of good examples of, uh, graduates of Wichita state, her basketball players. Who've gone on to, uh, careers like Ron baker, who now works for Ascension via Christi and a good, good, uh, example of success as well for the, for the program. Uh, you said that many of your student athletes will be the first in their family to earn a college degree. Um, talked about that. How, how do you help first-generation college students navigate the demands of college academia and in this high intensity sports environment that, that you know, happens in basketball. Speaker 3 00:22:12 Number one, when they first come to college, we try to bring them in during the summertime and put them in about six hours. So they get used to having the college experience, going to class, coming to practice, um, watching video on game, coming in the gym, getting up shots, doing all the little things I think, um, we try to talk to them about being an example in your family. You got a lot of people that look up to you when you get your college degree, all your first cousins, your second cousins, all the Unisys and nephews, they look up to you and they want to beat an example that you set. So I think when you get that college degree, that really helps your family, it helps other people in your family cause they're looking up to you and where you're successful is going to help everybody. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:22:58 Um, do you have any, um, we've talked about a few people here, but um, do you have any other former shockers, um, uh, alums of the basketball program that you think are good, good, really good role models for, uh, your current players, future players, uh, in terms of what you talked about and, uh, supporting first-generation students and our other kind of students. Speaker 3 00:23:22 That's a good question. I got two guys and you talked about one of them. One of them is Ron baker. You know, Ron came here as a walk on. He paid his own way. He was fortunate enough to get a scholarship. Um, he didn't get drafted into the NBA. He signed a free agent contract for two years, $9 million. Um, he had a season, a career ending surgery. He hurt his hip, but the fact that he got his college degree, he's a great example. Now he's in a health system. He's working in Wichita. He's a great example for our athletes, a guy who made it to the NBA, a guy who had a career ending injury, but the fact that he had his college degree, he had something to fall back on. Another example is Evan Wessel, a Wichita kid. It went to Heights. He came here. Um, he helped us get to the NCA tournament. Four times. He's a financial advisor. He wasn't fortunate enough to make it to the NBA, but he has a great success in Wichita because he got a college degree and he's doing great things in our community. Speaker 1 00:24:23 Yeah. Uh, those are two same guy as I was. I was thinking I was learning. You were saying that. And of course we can't forget. I'm sure people would wonder why we wouldn't miss, uh, miss saying something about Fredman fleet. Um, although he's gone on, um, uh, with tremendous success, a little bit different path than some of these other players, but he's also someone I think that, um, people would point to as a good role model for, for players. Speaker 3 00:24:49 Yeah. Without a doubt, Fran is just one of those guys that he proved that he's key is the day that hard work would pay off. He's five, 10, probably 180 pounds. He came here. He didn't play much as a freshmen. He continued to get better and better. He led Wichita state to a 35 and old season going into the NCA tournament. He got us to multiple NCAA tournaments. He helped us beat Kansas. He went undrafted, he signed a free agent deal. Um, he signed a $90 million contract. He's one of those guys that, that continues to get better and we're always pulling for him. I'm glad Fred came back this summer to the TBT shocker nation loves him. He's a great example. And we're pulling for him to make the all star game. Yeah. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:25:36 He's just a great guy. Um, and Hey, help the team go to the final four to yes. Yes. That was, that was a great year. Well thank you for being here, Isaac. And thank you to our listeners. Please join me in March for the next edition of forward together.

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