Episode 2 - Year in Review

Episode 2 December 15, 2021 00:30:05
Episode 2 - Year in Review
Forward Together
Episode 2 - Year in Review

Dec 15 2021 | 00:30:05

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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 Kansas and the greater good. 

Episode Description: On this episode of the Forward Together podcast, WSU President Dr. Rick Muma and his guests reflect on and celebrate all that Wichita State University has accomplished in 2021. Special guests include James Chung, founder of Reach Advisors and author of the Chung Report; and Dr. Kaye Monk-Morgan, vice president of engagement and planning at Wichita State University.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 The forward together podcast celebrates the vision and mission of Wichita state university. And each episode, I will talk with guests from throughout Shakur nation to highlight the people and priorities that guide WSU on its road to becoming an essential educational, cultural and economic driver for Kansas and the greater good hello, shocker nation. And welcome to the December episode of the Ford together podcast. As we head into 2022, I can't help, but to reflect and celebrate what Wichita state has accomplished in the past year, I've been so inspired to see the meaningful ways that Wichita state has risen to the considerable challenges our community has faced in 2021. And our people have helped to innovate solutions to serve our community. Just a few quick examples include, we collaborate with people from across the state to quickly open the Wichita state molecular diagnostic lab, which can process up to 32,000 COVID-19 tests per week. And we got our kids back to school and helped our government and businesses stay open, expanded need-based aid to extend the shocker promise to all qualified Sedgwick county high school seniors. And we're working with our governor legislators and donors to raise funds and eventually make a Wichita state education assessable and affordable to all Kansas, the digital twin and maintenance repair, and overhaul programs when fully up and running we'll have added hundreds of jobs to our economy included, applied learning opportunities for our students and full-time jobs for professionals in our community. Speaker 1 00:01:38 Today. I want to talk about the year that was 2021, our future and Wichita state university's place in prosperity of our state. My first guest today is James Chung or Wichita native Harvard graduate, and the man who helped write a roadmap on how Wichita can flourish and achieve greater prosperity. In 2002, James began reach advisors or research and predictive analytics firm that works with organizations by giving them insight into what the future may hold for their fields. In 2015, James was commissioned to write the Chung report, which outlined Wichita's challenges and offered insight into our opportunities for growth. Welcome James, and thank you for joining me today. Speaker 2 00:02:19 Thank you, Dr. Memo. It's certainly a pleasure to be joining you and the Wichita state community today. Speaker 1 00:02:24 Well, it's so good to see you again, and I'm always looking forward to having conversations on what you think about Wichita and what we're doing here. So James, your report highlighted four main challenges for Wichita talent retention, the internal and external perception of our city, our entrepreneurial infrastructure, and how our economy responds to changing business cycles. I want to talk about the challenges you laid out in your report. In some ways Wichita state, as an urban public research university can support the growth of our city. First, what do see as the role of a public university in helping a city prosper? Speaker 2 00:03:03 Okay. Um, when we think about the role of cities historically, and in current times, much of the value creation in cities comes from a concept sometimes known in academic circles as a glomeration. In other words, an aggregation of the various resources that enable an economy to thrive and strong agglomeration provides regions with unique sets of infrastructure resources, um, that create competitive advantage and strong agglomeration creates clusters of talent that create competitive advantage. So stepping back from that, like sort of academic view to your question about the role of a public university in helping a city prosper, I think Wichita state is a terrific example of how a public research university can be a critical engine in helping cities prosper. The obvious piece of that is that Wichita state develops next generation talent for the city. Um, but even more than that, which does state is clearly in the top tier for research funding flowing to municipal public universities. Speaker 2 00:04:07 You know, there are things like, you know, the big one out there, the national Institute of aviation research, uh, research is a great example of unique sets of infrastructure resources that create competitive advantage that other cities can't match. Um, yeah, I would say that like, you know, other aviation cities like mobile, Alabama Charleston, South Carolina, they would kill to have something like to help grow their aviation industry, but it's a unique advantage that sets up Wichita state. So it's about the research. It's about the young talent that they can expose to cutting edge research. It's about the making these opportunities available to as many students as possible. That's the kind of stuff that fuels competitive advantage advantages in cities. That's the stuff that Wichita state does Speaker 1 00:04:49 Well. And I appreciate those comments. Uh, I just spoke to, uh, up and coming group of individuals connect ICT, just moments before coming over here to, to meet with you. And, um, uh, one of the things that I think that we have a lot to be proud of is, is how many students now we're engaging around applied learning experiences. You mentioned research, we're growing our research. We're on target to surpass $200 million in the next year. So, um, these are things that, what you're saying are, are really materializing now, and we've really made a lot of progress over the last few years. So since your initial report in 2015, Wichita state has converted 120 acre golf course into what we call the innovation campus, which houses nearly 50 industry leaders and partners. The innovation campus provides applied learning opportunities. As I mentioned for our students, stay in the art labs and makerspaces, uh, research facilities and jobs for our community. What do you see as the innovation campuses role and helping Wichita grow and prosper? Speaker 2 00:05:59 Um, so as we think about the innovation campus, um, I'm going to look at it from a little bit different perspective. Um, a good portion of my work these days is with my data science company and that company serves the real estate asset class and then real estate, there's this mantra of highest and best use. And as we think about that, 120 acres, um, I mean in way it's a little bit sad for me because I learned to play golf on the Braeburn golf course. That's part of why growing up in Wichita was so wonderful, but there was also a potential for higher and better use, which is exactly what WSU identified and brought to life. Um, you know, part of this, why this matters goes back that agglomeration concept it's about aggregating various resources that create competitive advantage. And I suspect that this is a pretty safe bet that some of the partners moving on the innovation campus never would have been there, um, without the vision to create that innovation campus. Speaker 2 00:06:51 Um, so we're bringing these cutting edge enterprises to Wichita, which then in turn provides students exposure to cutting edge research that they would not get at most of the universities. Um, and that gives them a leg up in the workforce. It's a really nice flywheel that starting to generate, and this just accelerates it flywheels a heartless hard to start, but once they get going, it really, really kicks into gear. And I think we're starting to see that happen there. And the innovation campus is a big accelerator that so, um, you know, and also probably there's one more concept I'll throw out about the innovation campus. It's also about density and, you know, which is not a city that likes to think about density, part of why you like it is it sort of spread out. It's not congested, but you know, examples of that, you know, yesterday I was walking with a colleague in New York city and unexpectedly just ran into someone on the street who I hadn't seen in a few years. Speaker 2 00:07:40 Same thing happened to be in Boston earlier this week. Same thing happened to me in Palo Alto earlier than that. So, but it's these kinds of random encounters that help accelerate connectivity and deal flow and idea flow. But we're now seeing the opportunity to create that kind of density of ideas and talent at the innovation campus, where it becomes easy to bump into someone who might spark new ideas or easy to just schedule a coffee or lunch with someone that you might not normally see on a day-to-day basis in the workplace. And that's how ideas speed up. That's how knowledge flow speeds up. So, um, I'm pretty excited about what's happening over at the innovation campus. Um, that is going to be a fun one to watch, to see what comes out of that. Speaker 1 00:08:25 Well, and I agree, uh, I've been at the university for 25 years and, you know, as you know, higher education is known to not move very rapidly, but this is one, uh, aspect of our institution that's really taken hold. And you mentioned, uh, companies that may not be in Wichita and Wichita state university, uh, specifically. And I think the smart factory that's being built by Deloitte is a really good example. They could have built that factory anywhere, but they saw, uh, our applied nature of teaching our research and they want it to be a part of that. And I really believe that that particular project is going to be transformational for the city and also the university. Speaker 2 00:09:08 Oh, I think the city doesn't quite fully realize how much impact that can have. That is something that announcement is something. When I saw that pop up, I thought, you know, any manufacturing city in America or the world would have killed have had that, that one has incredible potential. Speaker 1 00:09:23 Yeah, exactly. So in 2018, you followed up on your initial report and there seemed to have been at least some positive movement in most of our challenges that you identified. However, one point that's near and dear to WSU is that you mentioned that only 33% of Wichitans believe college and universities have a positive effect on the way things are going today and only 54% see higher education as a very important or extremely important for a young person's success. Does this surprise you? Speaker 2 00:09:57 Well, the reason why we ran that, uh, sort of a question to time is that we were sensing in numerous conversations. We're having with city leadership, that there was that undercurrent of sentiment that we wanted to test, and we wanted to compare it to a national comp and, uh, it really popped out as different does, uh, you know, very different. And so, um, it's not necessarily what we wanted to see, but it's what we sort of expected we would see after our discussions. Um, and, you know, I realized that there is a little bit of a politicized element of that. Um, but the interesting thing about that, that I find that there's a, as I think about that question, I'd be really curious if we were to replicate that question today and ask specifically about Wichita state. And the reason why I raised that is my bet is that it would come out much more positive. Speaker 2 00:10:50 And the reason why is that Wichita state is doing two things simultaneously. Um, as we've started talking through an early in the earlier part of this discussion, there's some fantastic things that are happening at the Wichita state campus and innovation center, innovation campus, um, and, uh, things that typically don't happen at a, you know, urban public university. There's some amazing things coming together. And I do think that, uh, that is something that, uh, that the city is starting to appreciate will appreciate even more as the impacts play out. But there's also a second thing that Wichita state is doing that has just blown me away is that, um, Wichita state, somehow, you know, in this world where there's not exactly this magic money machine, that's, you know, it's rush hour and dollars on the campus, but, um, it's somehow it's figuring out ways to reinvent, um, you know, structure around education and democratizing access to higher education. You know, Wichita state, WSU tech have been an overdrive in re-inventing programs to create greater access to programs that accelerate personal life outcomes. Um, it's from an, you know, the perspective of sitting outside the city. I look at that and say, this is incredible. I don't see this happening elsewhere. And I hope the city is recognizing that. And I suspect that if we ask this question about Wichita state, specifically after the last few years of progress, it would be pretty positive. Speaker 1 00:12:24 Yeah. And that's my sense as well. And this comes back to the purpose of an urban public research university, which is two things, is to provide affordable access to higher education. And that's one of our main priorities as an institution and then helping our communities solve problems, their research through creative activities and other service initiatives. And so in my brief time now, as president and going around and talking to various different community leaders and, uh, various other folks in the city, I do see a renewed energy around what we're doing it at Wichita state and, and probably directly or indirectly how that impacts people's value around higher education in general. But we are ahead of us. Uh, we will have a lots of challenges in this regard, particularly around the issue of freedom of expression. That's another issue that I've spent a lot of time talking to folks about and the importance of that and making sure that we hold dear to that. Um, and, and, and our, uh, growth going forward. So I know you don't live in Wichita right now, but knowing what you know, through family and friends, what are your thoughts on Wichita's progress in the past year two, Speaker 2 00:13:40 Uh, progress in the past year or two? Okay. There's some days on one hand, I worry that the progress isn't as fast as I'd want to see, but, you know, cities are big complex institutions that are hard to change, but at the same time I've been encouraged. And, um, I have to admit that the things that encourage me the most, um, is this the announcements I'm seeing coming out of Wichita state, um, the innovation campus was obviously a big step. And that ha that was announced during the time when I was spending a lot of time there. But since that time, um, yeah, I was so happy when I saw the announcement for the, uh, for the, for the Deloitte smart factory. Um, you know, I immediately emailed some folks back saying, oh, I hope, which I realize is how big this can be for the city as we were discussing, you know, and then near and dear to my heart, I saw the announcement for the, uh, that Wichita state was selected as part of the, you know, a large federal grant for the AI Institute, for the foundations of machine learning. Speaker 2 00:14:41 You know, it was selected along with the other partners in that group where UT Austin, university of Washington, Microsoft research, I mean, top tier institutions in Wichita state. I thought that fantastic because at least from what I'm seeing, you know, AI and machine learning is the future unquestionably and Wichita state is going to have that basis to help the city figure out how we harness that. Then I saw the announcement for the digital twins, digital twin program, uh, national defense prototype center. Um, this is what I'm talking about, the agglomeration effect it's bringing together all these resources that create unique, competitive advantage. That's why cities thrive and I'm seeing the string of stuff coming out of Wichita state. Um, I mean, this is a pretty, pretty fantastic then, you know, keep that rolling, Rick. I mean, it started Dr. MoMA, um, but, uh, it is like wonderful. Speaker 2 00:15:36 Um, and, uh, you know, by the way, then you popped out to me that the it's now $200 million of research funding. Yeah. Last I checked. It was maybe what 130 in the prior year. Um, I don't think I told anyone at Wichita state, but I was really curious about billing, a comp state comp set for Wichita state. It's how I do my analysis. I figured out I look at this, but I look at the comps and among urban public universities, I gave a quick scan of research funding at that comp set and Wichita state crushes. It it's at the top of that con uh, at that comp set. And, uh, apparently, you know, growing that number by that amount, the kinds of programs bringing it in it is remarkable for a city of this size. It's a remarkable resource. It's remarkable what we've been seeing in the last couple of years. Um, it's this is, this is a big reason why I've got more bullish on Wichita and the last couple of years. Speaker 1 00:16:28 Well, yeah, it is amazing and it really is starting to pay off. And you mentioned our research productivity, but also our recruitment. We have the highest enrollment in 30 years, we have more and more students working with employers, gaining skills, and also getting a paycheck to help keep them in school. We're right. We're finally starting to see, um, this pay off. That's not only just helping the university, it's helping our community, the city of Wichita and the region. So finally, I want to ask you, what do you see as some of the most positive assets and attributes that Wichita can and should build upon going forward? Speaker 2 00:17:04 Okay. I don't say this answer just because I'm on a Wichita state podcast, but I truly do believe that perhaps the single biggest infrastructure asset for Wichita to build upon is Wichita steak. Um, but it's not just because I have this love for Wichita, you know, my it and my father was a faculty member there. So I spent a lot of time on Woodstock that campus it's more than that you're building on this kind of asset is the case for a lot of cities success or the, the, the, the, the fundamental driver for a lot of the city's success. There's a reason why Pittsburgh came back from the dead and became a world leader in slices of the tech world. Um, it's Carnegie Mellon university. There's a reason why Austin used to be the same size of witch as Wichita. Um, but it's now a global tech powerhouse. That reason is UT Austin. Those universities in those cities learn how to work together, leverage assets and win, you know, and it's not Wichita's time to do that. Speaker 1 00:18:05 Yeah. And, and there's just a incredible opportunity there. And I already mentioned that the return on investment that we're seeing, um, but our, our second priority is related to making sure that we are helping businesses with their talent pipeline and helping them solve problems and helping this community solve problems. And, and I'm, I'm so happy to hear, um, your opinions on this. You've been helpful to this city and to our university. Uh, James, um, I look forward to talking to you again in the next couple of years, so you can benchmark us again from the past, and we'd be happy to host you of course, on campus whenever you're back in, in the state of Kansas. Speaker 2 00:18:43 And if you don't mind, I'd like to share one more quick story. And that is back when I was spending a lot of time in Wichita, someone suggested that I meet the new provost at Wichita state at the time that person was described to me as the real deal, who can figure out how to tie things together, Wichita state, and make it work for the city. I recall that breakfast in a dark restaurant with you, and now fast forward a couple of years from what I'm seeing, um, it looks like it's really proving out that you really are tying together the pieces to make a good university. Great, and really look forward to seeing what more which state can do. So, um, I look forward to that next breakfast, right? Speaker 1 00:19:18 Thank you, James. That was very kind of you. Yeah, I remember that too. Uh, it was in the room with you and Tanya, where there's been a great talk. So thank you, James. Um, uh, take care. Um, have a good holiday and we'll, we'll see you soon. Speaker 2 00:19:35 All right. Great. Thanks. Speaker 1 00:19:39 Now I want to welcome Dr. Kmart Morgan Wichita. State's vice-president for strategic engagement planning, Dr. Morgan and her team have compiled the university's annual report for the 2021 fiscal year. Welcome Katie. Good to see you. Thanks for being here today. And I'm looking forward to our conversation, Speaker 3 00:19:58 So great to be here. Thanks so much for the invitation. Speaker 1 00:20:01 Well, great. Let's, let's get into the details of the outcomes that we had this year. Um, and I'm probably just going to call you Kay. Cause you and I work really closely on several different issues. So on a high level, can you talk about some of the highlights in the report that's going to be released? Speaker 3 00:20:20 We're really excited. Um, although 2021 was kind of a crazy year, local down historically as such, um, the university continued to prosper and to, to impact our community and really powerful ways. You mentioned in your, kind of your opening, reminding folks about the university mission, and we've got drivers that we're trying to push an education economics and culturally, um, through our strategic plan and, and certainly with a high focus on our priorities. And so I, in our annual report, see some of the efforts that we had as a campus community, everything from some of the work that we did in, in research, uh, and growing our research capabilities across our entire campus and each one of our academic colleges and beyond, uh, you'll get to read more about what our athletics, because everybody cares about soccer nation and shocker athletics. And so the success of our programs in that regard, a highlight there, we talk a lot about access and affordability, uh, which are major hallmarks of prioritization here at Wichita state, some of the growth in our trio and gear up programs, our continued efforts to, uh, increase our transfer student population and the success in efforts to, to continue to, um, just create the community that thrives and grows, uh, through our mission. Speaker 1 00:21:32 Those are all great, um, uh, summaries of, of what we've been working on at the university. And as you know, I want to test your knowledge here a little bit, that we have three main priorities, um, helping families with affordability access, making sure students have the ability to come to the university and graduate, making sure that we support businesses with a talent pipeline and increasing economic prosperity of our community. If you could share with our shocker audience, uh, what, what kind of accountability is important, um, in this regard? And if you could give some examples on the way Speaker 3 00:22:07 Absolutely it's critical, um, what you don't measure doesn't matter. And so we have taken the responsibility with this strategic plan and under your leadership to come up with metrics that will show whether or not we're making progress in the areas that we identify as priorities. Uh, you've listed them as well as those items that are connected to our strategic plan, which may be much more granular and making sure that the day-to-day operations of our institution take place as well as the large impact items. So I'm thinking like a logic model, right? Some inputs and outputs, and then you get some output impact. And so things that, that we, we don't often hear about are just the efforts in quality of place, right. Which are much more difficult to measure with a quantitative measure. Um, so we've taken a lot of effort this year to work on how will we measure how we're driving quality we'll have an economic impact study. Speaker 3 00:22:57 That'll be, um, I think by the end of the month, we'll have an opportunity to release talking to the community about the effort, the work that we do in building culture and fine arts and entertainment in our community. Um, the work that we're doing and research, of course, those numbers are shared quite regularly, um, with any number of audiences. And so we try to measure these things to see that we're making progress to evaluate whether or not we are actually living into the mission that has been set by our institution. Uh, and then we share those, uh, which does state has many stakeholders. You get an opportunity to engage them all, all around the city and the state. And so we want to be able to speak to the ROI that folks are for that investment, um, that we're doing the work we say we're doing. Speaker 1 00:23:41 Yeah. Um, you know, when you're talking, I'm just kinda thinking of all kinds of, uh, folks that I come across here at the university on the community who are a part of what we're doing here in shocker nation. Can you give me some examples of folks that are really engaging with our vision and mission, um, you know, both on campus, off campus, um, and, uh, just to give you a flavor of what we're doing and, and how that's taking hold? Speaker 3 00:24:08 Well, one of our hallmarks that here at Wichita state of course, is applied learning. Uh, all of our students are engaged in an applied learning experience through their academic setting. And often than often, several of them have opportunities to engage in applied learning. That's paid, um, Tonya Witherspoon, Brian Austin, Sarah Muzzy. The folks over in the shocker career accelerator are heavy on the foot, on the, on the pedal pedal to the metal. So high side that, um, and encouraging our students to, to find opportunities where they can leverage that they're in Wichita state, shocker, their educational experience with actual hands-on experience driving our mission forward, um, STRATCOM, we've got folks that are frankly really engaged in placemaking and having students participate in the river Fest. And we did that for the first time, I think in a really long time, if ever. Um, so that quality of place with Kristen Beall, I think is a really important kind of outshoot something, again, not everybody automatically looks at as an outcome of an annual plan, but when you're trying to create, uh, an atmosphere and a climate where folks feel good about where they are, that's an important piece of that. Speaker 3 00:25:14 We've got any number of researchers. You mentioned the MDL and, and some of the work that's happening with Niagara. So those, those folks are always at the top of, of mine when it comes to driving university mission, um, the work that's happening with Sheila surrender in the office of financial aid, around the shocker neighborhood commitment, which has now been expanded to all students in Sedgwick county, um, the amount of work that it takes in order to ensure that those students have economic opportunity to come to college and stay, um, lots of folks on campus. I think one of the unique aspects of this particular strategic strategic plan is that we created in such a way that anyone across campus faculty, staff, and or students could identify the work that they were doing that addressed any one of the five strategic plan goals. And as a result of that, we've had 276 people indicate this is what I'm doing to drive the university plan. And so I think anytime you can get your campus community behind, this is where we're going and kind of marching in the same order. Um, it's just gonna exaggerate what type of impact you can have. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:26:19 And I, I I'd be remiss if I didn't say that that your office, which is a strategic engagement office, you're also obviously in charge of strategic planning and whole host of other things and creditation and curriculum and program review, but you're in your office is new strategic engagement. Um, and, and a lot of what you've talked about, um, has been either spearheaded or nudged along through your office. Can you just briefly talk about where we are and some of our engagement activities and what you plan? Speaker 3 00:26:51 Well, as you always say, you know, as a public research institution, we're always heavily engaged in our, in our community. And so one of the things our office has been really working on with the broader campus community, including our faculty and students is about identifying a community engagement model. So again, that everybody on campus can see themselves in this work. Um, our job is to coordinate and elevate the stories, highlight the work that's being done, not necessarily to drive everything. We certainly don't own the car, the, the market on community engagement, but making sure that those stories are told. And so we really focus this first year under an, a Kayla pack or director of engagement, her leadership, uh, in shocker neighborhood, and really doubling down on an effort that started several years ago before we, either of us were, were really engaged. But shocker neighborhood goes from to K 96 and Oliver to central. Speaker 3 00:27:42 Yeah. Um, looking at that community, uh, of which we are apart and identifying just what are the things that we can do there. And we've spent a lot of time helping to drive educational efforts, uh, in part, because we live in an area, a zip code that, that, um, has economic outcomes or performance that is lower than in many other zip codes in the, in the city and certainly in the state. And so that's partnerships with the boys and girls club, that's partnerships with the Y neighborhood associations, we've been heavily engaged. Uh, we are 10 neighborhood associations in shocker neighborhood, and we provide support to each one of those neighborhood associations in order to see that those communities thrive when they thrive. We do too. Uh, and so she's done a fantastic job of, of just creating relationship and focusing next year. We hope to single, to radiate out a little further and see what impacts we can have in those areas as well. Speaker 1 00:28:33 The things that you've just mentioned here fit perfectly into our priorities affordability access, making sure that we're providing talent and recruiting people from this area of our, of our neighborhood to Wichita state. So they can go on to live productive lives, which increases economic prosperity. Absolutely. So thank you, Kay. I really appreciate you. The efforts that you put into this it's I know it's hard work and there's a lot of, uh, uh, cat hurting along the way. Um, but I do appreciate it. And all of shocker nation, uh, preset appreciates it. If you all want more detail on the Wichita state university annual report visit which tom.edu/annual report, I want to thank both of my guests, James Chan, and Dr. Kmart Morgan for joining me today, I appreciate your insights and thank you, shocker nation for listening. As we move forward into 2020 to be on the lookout for more Wichita state, university innovation and reasons to celebrate, be sure to like review and subscribe to the forward together podcasts, wherever you listen. And joining me in February. When I talked with WSU alum, John Roth, who is CEO of the Wichita regional chamber of commerce. I wish you the very best for the holiday season. And in trying, trying to go shockers

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