Koch pledges $11.25M to Wichita State University

WSU New Innovation Campus Building (WSU image courtesy GLMV Architecture)

WICHITA, Kansas – Wichita State announced Tuesday that Koch Industries and the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation have pledged $11.25 million to the university.

Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO said this is the largest gift ever to the WSU Foundation from a corporate / foundation source.

“What makes the gift particularly exciting is the breadth of its impact,” said King. “That impact will affect many different areas of campus academically, all of Wichita State’s athletic programs and the economic vitality of our community and surrounding region.”

WSU President John Bardo said the gift will have an impact on generations of Wichita State students. “It is a tremendous investment in our vision of building a university that is internationally recognized as the model for applied learning and research.”

Steve Feilmeier, Koch’s executive vice president and chief financial officer noted that “Wichita State is an important asset for us and the community,” stating the company hires many graduates from WSU every year. “We want WSU to be successful and its teaching programs to be top tier.”

KSN wanted to know if the university’s success on the court was sustainable– and if the team faded would that have an affect on maintaining the momentum created by the team’s recent move to the national spotlight. We asked Elizabeth King, President of the WSU Foundation, if the future attraction to the team was tied to the success of the men’s basketball team. She said 1/3 of a university’s global recognition comes from athletics. The other 2/3 is related to performing arts and education.

“We are on the map right now with all of the Innovation campus components our engineering program our business program we’re growing in entrepreneurship and all those activities surround the economic development where we are a leader, so yes athletic programs ebb and flow but I have no doubt that we’ll stay strong for many many years to come,” King said.

We also reached out to the Kansas Board of Regents and asked the same question. Here is the response from Dr. Andy Tompkins, President and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents:

“President Bardo has a new vision for Wichita State University.  He is making the campus environment one that will attract and keep more students.  He is enhancing one of the strengths of the university by expanding internships for students to better prepare them for jobs when they complete college.  And he is implementing an innovative strategy to attract businesses to campus to work with faculty and students and to improve ways that the university supports and grows local businesses. There is no doubt that a successful athletic program is helpful in attracting students to campus and in keeping the community and alums excited about the university.”

We also believe that President Bardo’s strong vision for the success of students and the community serves as a strong foundation for long term growth and success.

The pledge will target five areas of the university:

Maker Space facility on the Innovation Campus ($3.75 million) – a cross between a business incubator, manufacturing plant and design studio. Described as a place where creative people of all ages and skill levels will have access to sophisticated equipment and training, shared work spaces, expert advice and a supportive community of like-minded people.

Charles Koch Arena ($4.5 million): Among improvements planned is a major expansion of the Student Athlete Success Center, which would house academic support services, nutrition services, and personal and career development for all student athletes.

Honors College Koch Scholars Program ($1.54 million): As many as 10 scholarships per year of up to $7,500 for in-state students and $15,000 for out-of-state students would be awarded beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year.

Koch Innovation Challenge ($1 million) – an annual program in which WSU freshmen and transfer students compete for funding and scholarships to invent products and technologies.

Koch Global Trading Center ($460,000): Money will be used to help pay for costs associated with moving the center from Clinton Hall to a new building planned for the W. Frank Barton School of Business.

Related link | Full press release of Koch – WSU pledge

PHOTOS | Wichita State’s vision for the future

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