Episode 9 - Education in Kansas

Episode 9 November 17, 2022 00:34:08
Episode 9 - Education in Kansas
Forward Together
Episode 9 - Education in Kansas

Nov 17 2022 | 00:34:08


Show Notes

Episode description: In this episode of Wichita State University’s “Forward Together” podcast, President Rick Muma talks about the state of education in Kansas with two extraordinary educational leaders: Wichita Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Alicia Thompson; and Wichita State University Provost, Dr. Shirley Lefever. The “Forward Together” podcast celebrates the vision and mission of Wichita State […]
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:06 Hello everyone, and welcome to this month's edition of the Forward Together Podcast. Today we'll be talking to two extraordinary educational leaders, Wichita Public School Superintendent, Dr. Alicia Thompson, and Wichita State University Provost, Dr. Shirley Lafe. My first guest, Dr. Thompson, is a Wichita, through and through. She attended Wichita Public Schools from the time she was in elementary school until she graduated from Heights High School. Her career as an educator and administrator for USD 2 59 spans almost three decades. And in 2017, she was selected as superintendent for Kansas' largest school district serving more than 50,000 students. And one of our points of pride, she earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Wichita State in 2015. Well, good afternoon, Alicia. It's good to see you. Thank you so much for, uh, joining me today on the podcast here at Wichita State. Speaker 2 00:00:58 Thank you for the invitation. Speaker 1 00:01:00 Yeah, it's good. Good to see you again. And, um, I wanna just talk a little bit about, um, the relationship between Wichita State and, and the Wichita Public Schools. And, and that relationship goes back to the early days of our university and, and probably to the school district. Um, could you talk about, um, some of the most impactful programs that we've done together and, and, and how do you think those have, have really helped student learning? Yeah. Speaker 2 00:01:27 Well, I, I am so, we are so fortunate to, to have such a strong partnership with Wichita State University. Um, I could just go on and on. I, I'll highlight a few of them. Some of the recent ones that we've had, um, the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, which is the PCR testing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I think that that was a very huge significant, uh, partnership. Um, it was where, um, we were able to, uh, have very quick responsive, uh, testing results from covid mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, if we did not have that partnership, I don't believe we would've been able to keep our doors open and our kids in school and our staff in school without that partnership. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that partnership lasted throughout our covid, uh, the Pandemic. Um, and it lasted right till November of 2019. And that was a phenomenal partnership. Some of the others that are, uh, really significant and had some good impact have been from the College of Applied Studies. Speaker 2 00:02:25 Um, I don't know if you know this or not, but, uh, we have a couple of your, uh, quite a few actually, of your students who actually work for the Wichita Public Schools. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, one of them, uh, is starting in January and they work in the cybersecurity. Uh, and they will be monitoring our networks, uh, on, on a regular basis, uh, making sure that we are not being attacked. Uh, so that is really cool, and we're really excited about that, uh, partnership in that particular division of that college. And we're going to be, uh, they'll start in January. We also have some of your folks from the IT world that are in our spaces. They work in about nine of our schools, and they help us with repair. They helped plan and execute our, um, deployment of our one-to-one devices for our students. Um, and they troubleshoot for kids and teachers as they're using the technology throughout the day. Speaker 2 00:03:18 So that is an awesome, uh, impactful program as well. And one of the other ones that has really been kind of really longstanding is our relationship with, uh, research, uh, from the doctoral students in the College of Applied Studies. We pick, uh, a topic every year. Uh, we've gone from academic programs. Our eSports program is the one we're doing this year. Um, some of our social and emotional learning work, and they do research for us and help us to solve problems, uh, with the research that they're doing. Um, and we've been able to really impact a lot of our work within our school district because of the research mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that has been done by the doctoral students in the College of Applied Studies. Um, so we, I could really go on and on. Yeah. But I'll just stop there. Uh, but we have many, many other impactful programming and partnerships that we have within the Wichita Public Schools and Wichita State. Speaker 1 00:04:10 Well, I'm glad you brought up the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory and, and how we help, um, this community and of course, your school district mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, stay safe and open and as possible and healthy. Um, a lot of people don't understand that, that kids, if they're not, um, um, healthy themselves, if the teachers are not healthy themselves. That's right. You know, learning's not going to happen. And I believe, um, I got this right. You mentioned the, um, the doctoral program in the college applied studies. You have your doctoral degree from the College of Applied Studies, or it used to be called the College of Education. Speaker 2 00:04:44 That is correct. So I am a shocker. Alum <laugh>. Right, exactly. A proud one. Speaker 1 00:04:48 And we're very proud that you are, um, I have had the opportunity, probably you two, um, uh, in your role working with a lot of those doctoral students over time and, and just hearing about some of the, the, the field studies that they're doing in your district to, to really help move things forward and great partnership. Yes. So, um, glad you brought that up. So for the past year, a few years actually, um, uh, we've had some extort historic challenges and you mentioned c as one of those. Um, and I know that Covid here at this institution has required us to think differently and become innovative. And, and so what, what are some of the things that you all have learned from that now that we're hopefully towards the end of that pandemic, um, and how you might be doing things differently just because of the things that you, um, had to do, uh, when we were right in the middle of the, of, of Covid? Speaker 2 00:05:45 Well, it's interesting that, um, one of the things that we had to do was to shift very quickly, because in our district before covid, we didn't have a lot of technology. Teachers didn't use it as tools as much. We had it, but it was just kind of, you know, not readily, you know, used in our, in our school district. And when Covid came, we were actually, we had a five year plan of how we were going to get the technology in the buildings and how we were going to integrate, teach the teachers how to use it. And that sped up that five year plan. And I think we did it in a matter of a couple of months. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we got technology available, we had teachers trained, and so we moved some things that needed to be moved, uh, in a, in a faster pace during that time. Speaker 2 00:06:29 And what we learned about that, you know, is that students really are more engaged when they have a combination of the two students didn't do well, just technology by itself. So they needed to have some face to face, and they needed to have technology. And what we've learned since we've come back is that students want that combination of the two. Um, and so we as a district have had to really shift a lot of our thinking and a lot of our training to teach teachers how to really, truly integrate it and not just use it as a tool where you just put it in front of the students and then they're interacting kind of like a worksheet. But how do you use that as a tool to solve problems? How do you use it as a tool to research and find new information to be able to apply it to the things that you're, uh, needing to do with the content, uh, with the standards for our state. So I think that what we did learn was, is technology is important, face to face is important, and we also learned that social and emotional learning is important. We knew that our teachers needed to really learn how to, um, build those stronger relationships with students so that, that they could create those environments where kids felt safe in the spaces as well. So those are a couple things that we've learned throughout the pandemic that, what that we needed to do that just propelled us to u move that work faster. Mm-hmm. Speaker 1 00:07:47 <affirmative>, you know, I have, like you do, um, of course your work every day, you're around teachers, but I have some friends who are, who are teachers and 2, 5, 9. And, um, although it would be an overgeneralization to, to say that what was done was worked for all kids, because we know that's probably not not the case. But one of the things I did learn from, uh, the, the folks that I know who work at 2 59 is that they learned that there was a lot of resiliency among those kids. Yes. And, and when they're forced to be in a difficult situation, we can get a lot of them through this by just, just because of that resiliency and that, and that grit that that many of our kids have. And we sometimes don't talk about that. And, um, people rise to the occasion, um, when we have, when we're all faced with a, a difficult situation. Speaker 2 00:08:37 That is correct. And I, and I think that our, not only did our students learn that, but our teachers did too mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think they found out that they can do more. Uh, and they had more grit and more resilience than what they've had. And now that they have it, they're able to now teach and pass that, continue to keep that, uh, energy in the, the classrooms and that learning environment. Speaker 1 00:08:56 Yeah. Yeah. It was amazing all of us back in March of 2020 that we were able to turn on a dime like we did. And so just <laugh>, as difficult as that was, we all were able to, um, continue to move forward and keep people moving down the, down the road Speaker 2 00:09:13 And collaboration and working together and being a team also was something that was learned that we do better when we are, when we are together Speaker 1 00:09:21 Working. Exactly. So, um, you've been involved in, um, a teacher preparation, um, not only at the collegiate level, but also, you know, in your doctoral studies and, and looking at and all of that. But also you have been involved, of course, of preparing students for the future. What, what do you see as the, the long term challenges that we have facing us in public education in particular? Um, Speaker 2 00:09:50 What we know is that, you know, we've got some results that say that our students, um, kind of fell behind in their reading and their math in particular reading. And what we need to continue to learn about that and also prepare the teacher preparatory program in learning, is that reading really is rocket science. Um, it, we really need to know the art and the science of how students learn to read. Um, and so I would say that we really need to focus in on, um, being trained in this particular methodology or the learning of letters, which is the language essentials for teachers of reading and spelling. Um, that particular professional development for teachers are really making a difference in being able to really accelerate the learning for students, um, in literacy. Um, we also need to have teachers and administrators who are innovative because there are lots of problems out there. We need problem solvers. We need people that are able to think outside of the box to be able to do those kinds of things. We need people that are able to inspire and build strong relationships with kids. I think those are some of the things that I would be looking for, and that we need to begin to look in those programs. Like you said, resiliency, perseverance, those are the things that we need to teach our young people. Um, and those are the skill sets that we need our teachers and administrators to have moving forward. Speaker 1 00:11:12 Yeah. So, so important. Um, and I know that, uh, one of the additional partnerships that we've had here at the university, not just, uh, college applied studies where the School of Education is, but um, all across our campus, we've had, um, people here reading to, um, uh, that's right. To your kids and various different levels. Yes. Um, and which is so important as, you know, as, as, uh, kids who are, who read and, and read with an adult are more likely to do better in certain areas of, of their education. So Yes. And, and we know that we'll, we'll continue helping with that. We have a lot of interest among people across the campus for that program. So you've recently announced that you'll be retiring after 30 plus years of, um, in the, entirely in the Wichita Public Speaker 2 00:12:03 Schools. That is Speaker 1 00:12:03 Correct. And, and we're gonna miss you. And, and I always, um, hate when I see strong leaders, um, go on. But, you know, they have the reasons for doing it. What, what's the next, um, phase of your life look like? Speaker 2 00:12:21 Well, my next phase in life is to take a nap. First. <laugh>, I think I just, I want to kind of spend some time with my family. Um, I probably cook a meal for my husband, maybe he'll get some calm cooked meals here. Um, and then I have a daughter that's going to be graduating from high school, uh, next year. And, uh, we'll do some college tours and, uh, at Wichita State, I'm hoping to get her to be a shocker, like her mom was a alum here, so we, I wanted to be able to do that. And we've spent some time on campus here, so I'm hoping we'll be able to get her graduated and enrolled in, uh, at Wichita State. And, um, and then I'll take a deep breath and then determine, um, what I do next. But whatever it is, it's gonna definitely be in the realm of supporting students and kids, cuz that's where my passion will continue to be. Speaker 1 00:13:07 Well, and we're looking forward to seeing what that looks like. We'll be following it closely. Before we leave this though, um, what, um, what do you see in terms of partnerships between 2 59 and, um, and, and wsu? Speaker 2 00:13:22 Yeah. Um, you know, what I really see a lot of is, is, is creating a pre-K through 16 kind of a continuation mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, we're, we're getting very close to having some of those opportunities there. I think our strategic plan really aligns with a lot of the work that's happening at the College of Applied Studies, um, which is increasing, you know, the dual and concurrent credits you're thinking about, um, credentialing, um, you're, there's tons of things. What happens with pay to where people are working in our schools. We're working, we're coming to your campus, you're coming into the schools. And we have that seamless kind of, uh, engagement with one another. Um, I think, uh, our better academics and social excellence program, which is increasing the boys of color, coming to higher ed and even going into education is an area that I think we will continue to, to continue to work with. I mean, the list just continues to go on and on of the possibilities, but really, um, one other I wanna mention is strengthening that shocker neighborhood. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I think that that is a huge project that has the potential for some huge impact, uh, with our students that live in, in the shocker neighborhood. Um, so there's just so many possibilities that I can think of that we could continue to increase our partnership and align our work and really get that true pre-K through 16 experience for our students in our, in our community. Speaker 1 00:14:47 Yeah. And, um, you know, one of the good things about our relationship, um, 2 59 is all about access, all about supporting, um, kids, all about supporting them to move on to whether that's a two year degree or a certificate or a four year degree. And that's, that's what we want to, that's, um, you know, our, our really our partnership is 2 59 WSU Tech and Wichita State. That whole continuum, and that's right's, kind of what you're talking about, E 16, um, where you start in high school and, and get kids interested in on the track to get something in post post-secondary education. Cause we know that all the jobs of the future are going to require some additional, um, education beyond high school. So you mentioned, um, I think base, is that what you were talking about? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I, I've had some opportunities to, to interact with those young men who come in with, uh, Mr. Polite. Yeah. He, he's, he's, he's great. Yes. Um, what, what's been the, um, the feedback that you've gotten from that program, from your perspective as a superintendent and, um, what our students have been doing here on campus? Speaker 2 00:16:02 It's been kind of neat because I follow up with those young men and I meet with them separate, you know, at different times throughout the year. And I believe that they see college as a possibility. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, many of them, um, you know, that was not something that is being discussed maybe in their homes or even in some instances at school, uh, with some of the experiences that they've, they've shared with me. But what they can see now is that they've been on the campus, they see themselves here, and they see that there are people here that want them here. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Uh, and I think that that is the first step. And now what we are doing is talking about how do you get there? You know, what kind of grades do you need to have, you know, what kind of a financial, uh, responsibilities in family connection, the fasc of a filling out fast forms and looking for scholarships. And those are things that now those students and those young men are talking about. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And those are things that they were not talking about and could not see that there, that it was a possibility before the base program and the partnership with Wichita State. Speaker 1 00:17:05 And I was just, I loved it. Even during, uh, c um, uh, we were able to get some, some of the, uh, students on campus. Um, but outside of that, it's just great to see them just all over this campus. Yeah. And, um, looking at various different things they hadn't thought about. And, um, thank you so much for joining us and I'm looking forward to, uh, seeing where your, your career goes next. And I'm sure there'll be something really great for our community and we really appreciate all of what you brought to this, uh, school district 2 59, but also to our community. So thank you so much for being here, Alicia. Speaker 2 00:17:43 Well, thank you for the invitation. Speaker 1 00:17:46 My next guest is someone I've known and worked with, with for years, Wichita State Executive Vice President and Provost, Dr. Shirley Lafe. Shirley has spent her career helping prepare teachers and administrators for the school setting. First at the University of Arkansas, where she was instrumental in developing its Masters of Arts and Teaching program. And then in 2015, she joined the Wichita State family. Since becoming a member of Shocker Nation, Shirley has worked as a faculty member or department chair, Dean of the College of Applied Studies. And in April of this year, she was selected as the university's executive vice president. Provost. Good afternoon, Shirley. It's good to see you. Thank you for taking time outta your schedule. I know you have nothing going on. You have no meetings probably today. It's just Friday and you have nothing to do. Uh, but thank you for being Speaker 3 00:18:34 Here. Very glad to be here and, uh, can think of a better place to spend my time. Speaker 1 00:18:39 Well, great. So we're talking about education, um, uh, on this particular podcast, and you've been working in higher education and, uh, as a teacher, uh, uh, and a professional in that world, um, for more than 30 years, long time. Um, what are some of the most significant changes you've seen in that time? Maybe starting out in the, on the K through 12 side and then higher education? Speaker 3 00:19:06 You know, I think probably one of the things that is always very striking to me is, uh, when I first went into higher education, there was sort of this feeling that, you know, you build a good program and the students will just come to you. I don't think that's the case anymore. And it probably really hasn't been the case for a long time, really. And, uh, so I think people, students, parents, community, they want, they wanna know what they're gonna get out of a higher education. And so, um, and even with K12 as a classroom teacher, uh, my parents that I worked with were, would always ask, why do we have to learn this? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, you know, I think it's very purpose driven and, uh, that's why one of the reasons why I think what we're doing here at WSU with applied learning makes so much sense to me. Yeah. Um, but I think it's just we have to be at the table and, um, make sure that everything we're doing has some kind of purpose or relevance. Speaker 1 00:20:04 Yeah. I have this conversation a lot with people. They, they believe that, um, you know, they kind of hearken back to the days of when we went to school mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, when, you know, there was more opportunity for us to explore a little bit more and kind of, you know, figure out what we wanna do. And it was a little bit haphazard. Some of us had more purpose than others. And, um, and there's this belief that, uh, uh, higher education now is, is, doesn't have critical thinking and liberal arts in it, but that's just not true. We, we still have that core foundation, but what's different is that we're working with students to help guide them to a career. And cuz that's their expectation, that's what their parents are expecting. They're paying for more of their education and um, you know, they want, they want to be able to have some sort of return on investment when, when they leave the university. I don't, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Um, that's why our, our university is I think, uh, growing cuz they're providing these intentional experiences for students. That's why their students are wanting to come here. That's why business and industry wants to come here. So, yeah. I, I think that all of that fits really well and, and we haven't lost. Right. Some of that, uh, that people are harking right back for. And when we were, um, uh, back in the good old days, you know mm-hmm. Speaker 3 00:21:26 <affirmative>, you know, sometimes I think that's, so my memory of back in the good old, old days, there was a lot of rote memorization and mm-hmm. <affirmative> really not that much about applied learning Yeah. Or application of what you were learning. And so when I first went to the University of Arkansas, uh, one of the reasons I went there was because we were looking at, uh, we need to redesign teacher preparation, just throw everything out and start from the very beginning. And, and, um, it was really at the start of a movement called professional development schools. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> where, um, so our, the degree program that we developed my university class was in the elementary school. My classroom was right across the hall from an el from a kindergarten classroom mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I, I knew, or I learned really quickly, uh, that everything I was teaching in my university methods course better work because they were gonna walk across the hall Yeah. And apply it right then. And it was just fascinating because over the course of a semester or or over the course of a academic year, my university students could see those kindergarten students learn to become readers and writers. And everything that they were reading about in their textbook made so much sense because they were watching it in real life. So to me, we are, we are just doing more of that. It's, it's Speaker 1 00:22:53 In all the, all of our fields here at the university. It's not dissimilar to, uh, the background that I come from in healthcare. You know, when I was a new faculty member down in Texas and I taught in the morning, in the classroom, I grabbed those students and take 'em over to clinics and they, uh, and help me, uh, take care of those patients. And so yeah, it, there was, it's a seamless kind of a educational process that, um, you know, it's just evolved over, over time and, and, and, but here at Wichita State, we're making sure all of our students have that opportunity. So makes it a little bit different. We, we've talked a little bit about this, but how is Wichita State working to align its programming with the evolving needs of our communities, our students and, and our teachers? Speaker 3 00:23:39 To me, that, that also is just more of the same. So every time we're out in the community, when we, we are part of those conversations about what the industry needs, we're going to make sure that our programs and our courses are more relevant. So, you know, I think the teacher apprentice program is just one example of that. We went around the state and we talked to superintendents and school district personnel and paraeducators and, and we asked the question, okay, how do we solve this teacher shortage problem? If we could design a program and work with school districts, what would it look like? I think we're doing that same thing with, uh, a lot of disciplines on our campus, uh, conversations with ATF and, and the things that have emerged from those conversations. And we could just go by college to college to college and point out examples of, of how I think us being at the table with industry when those conversations are happening and being pos positioning ourselves as wanting to be part of the solution. So, um, and, and I think the reason our programs at some of our newer programs in particular are growing is because they've emerged from those conversations. Speaker 1 00:24:50 Yeah. A lot of people think, uh, applied learning experiences or in engineering or healthcare or, um, uh, you know, uh, some of the more technical fields. Uh, but the teacher print program is a really good example of how we went out. You, you and your colleagues went out and, um, asked, asked the school district superintendents and the leaders out there, what is it that you really need and design that program. And now it's one of our largest programs in the, in the, at the university. Um, again, all the students getting very much applied learning, experience based learning, uh, out in their, uh, in their schools without having to, to leave. These are paraeducators, I should have mentioned that earlier. So, uh, great examples. Uh, so part of Wichita State's mission statement is to be an essential educational driver. From your perspective as a teacher educator and as a provost at, uh, the state's only urban public research university, what are some of the things that, that we're currently doing to support this mission, um, as we move forward? Speaker 3 00:25:58 You know, I think when I listen to that phrase, the word that just jumps out is essential. And, uh, when we say essential, that means it's, it's vital to somebody's livelihood. So it's vital to our community's livelihood to be connected to us, and it's vital to our livelihood as an institution of higher education to be connected to the people that we serve, the community that we serve. So, you know, I think that, um, uh, by virtue of being in those spaces and really listening and being part of the solution and thinking forward to what, what are the emerging trends or what are the needs that will be coming from industry and how do we position, position ourselves to respond to that? To me, that makes us an essential educational provider. So, Speaker 1 00:26:49 Yeah. Oh, that's great. This description, you know, we're on this podcast, we're gonna hear from one of our local superintendents and, you know, part of being an essential educational driver also to create pipelines and the work that we're doing with, with high schools. And, and I know that you come from k12, can you describe some of the things that, that you think you'll see happening in the future? Um, coming out of partnerships with the K K12 systems here in, in our local area and beyond? Sure. Speaker 3 00:27:23 We've had some conversations really recently about, um, how do we make those connections to K12 even stronger? We have a great relationship with the school districts in our area and, uh, but, but I think there's always what's next. And so some of the, the conversations have been around what, what would it look like if we had an early college academy where, uh, the high school and the, and the, uh, university are sort of in that same shared space and the students are learning about, um, multiple career options at the same time, they're earning credit towards their general education requirements. So, so again, it's kind of applying that purpose mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, and intention alongside a little bit earlier in, in the student's progression. So down into high school and, and really helping them see application, I think even high schools are looking differently. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so they're embracing project based learning and, and problem based learning. Speaker 3 00:28:25 And, uh, was just at a high school the other day where, um, the students start with real world problems and, and then they bring in disciplines from whatever it might be engineering, or it might be teacher preparation or, and then those, there's students just come together as a team and they try to figure out how to solve the problem. The, the example I'm thinking about in my head is a veterinarian, uh, brought a duck with a broken bill in and told the kids the duck's bill needs to be fixed. And so they had to figure out how to, they had to learn about the respiratory system of a duck. They had to think about how do they create a 3D model of a duck bill? How do you adhere it to that animal? It it was powerful and it, it just spanned a number of, of disciplines. And the deans were there at the time. And so we started asking, okay, so if that's what high school looks like, what does that mean for higher education? So, uh, great conversations. And I think some of those, uh, some of that is staying with us as we design more courses. I think about the first year design experience in engineering is very much like that. So, Speaker 1 00:29:40 You know, just listening to you talk about this, um, uh, project based learning, spiritual based learning, problem solving, that's not a new concept. Uh, but what is new in higher education, you know, higher education seems to lag some of these things that are happening at K through and other disciplines that really have to rely on, um, experience based kind of kinds of education. So I, I, I think it's great that, that Wichita State years ago, um, seven, eight years ago, took that leap to, to really make this part of everybody's curriculum. And it, and it really, I believe is making an impact. You've heard me say this, I'll say it for the listeners. Over 6,000 of our students, um, are earning about 28 million working with, um, industry partners, whoever hires our graduates people on our campus. And, and, uh, we now have over 50 companies, um, that are located on our campus, either headquartered or offices. Speaker 1 00:30:40 And, um, you know, really I think making a difference in students, um, and, and their learning. So you've been on the job for, um, I think close to two years because, uh, just the listeners should understand that. Um, I appointed Shirley's interim provost when I became interim president back in the fall of 2020. So that was about two years ago. Um, and then you became the permanent provost, um, this last spring. So, um, knowing what a provost is like the role, so I was in that, um, tell us how things were going, um, what, what your experience is, what are you working on, what's your focus? Speaker 3 00:31:23 Things are going well. I I'm really putting a lot of emphasis on, um, as you know, retention because I think all of these things tie together and, um, I think that we've done a great job of building our enrollment numbers and I think now we're at a point where we can really focus on how, what, what are the experiences, what are the opportunities that our students need so that they can continue to be successful here at WSU and, and stay and graduate. And so we're putting a lot of emphasis on that. Um, getting to know the offices across campus and the individuals within each of those offices and, and really trying to think about how do we continue to leverage the work in each of those spaces, really elevate it so that we have bigger impact than we've had before. So it's been great getting to know more and more people and their specific roles and kind of having that recharged conversation about the, our students and how do we just continue to make, um, their learning experience better. Cause I think every day you can always get better at something. So I think that's what the work is in front of us. Speaker 1 00:32:33 Well, you're also blazing some trails here. We, uh, the last time we had a female provost was in the early nineties before I even came to Wichita State. And, um, ever since then, or every other provost at the university has been a male. Um, not that there's a problem with that, but, um, it, there, there are differences that you bring to this role. Your background and teacher preparation I think is important, obviously for the reasons that we've talked about. So thank you for, um, stepping up and, um, putting yourself out there. Um, and, and you know, putting your application in and interviewing for the job and, um, being selected as a provost and executive vice president. People also need to understand that she's also the executive vice president, so that means that she has a lot of people reporting to her. So Speaker 3 00:33:24 <laugh>, I'm enjoying the work. It's important work and we have a great team. Speaker 1 00:33:28 Well, great. It was good to talk to you, Shirley. Good to see you. Um, and, uh, we'll, we'll be seeing you soon in other meetings. Speaker 3 00:33:36 Sounds great. Thanks Rick. Speaker 1 00:33:39 And thank you to everyone listening. Join me next month when I chat with Dr. John Tomlin, Wichita State's Senior Vice President for industry and defense programs, and one of the significant drivers in developing Wichita State's innovation campus.

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