Investing in WSU and its students is one way companies prepare for their futures

Representatives from Spirit Aerosystems, the WSU Foundation and the WSU College of Engineering met recently to discuss Spirit’s support for Wichita State University.

Representatives from Spirit Aerosystems, the WSU Foundation and the WSU College of Engineering met recently to discuss Spirit’s support for Wichita State University.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Luis Rodriguez acknowledges the sentiment is a cliché, but he believes it fittingly describes the impact companies like his make when they invest in Wichita State and its students.

“We’ve decided one of the best things we can do is support the university’s efforts to prepare students to live and work right here in Wichita,” says Rodriguez, president of KeyCentrix. “These students will provide talent down the road not only for us, but for other companies that want to grow here. The benefit reaches beyond just KeyCentrix.”

A technology solutions company, KeyCentrix has endowed a scholarship at Wichita State for students majoring in business-related technology studies. The company is among dozens that support Wichita State through philanthropic and corporate giving.

“Our goal is to build relationships with companies so we can help meet their needs and solve their problems in ways that benefit our students, too,” says Angela Dudley, associate vice president for corporate and foundation relations for the WSU Foundation. “That may be talent development, industry research, or even developing innovative curriculum to meet emerging workforce needs.”

Here is a look at three companies embracing a synergistic relationship with Wichita State:


When KeyCentrix began thinking more deeply about ways to engage with the community around it, the company decided to go back to its roots.

“Our founder’s guiding principles included being engaged and being philanthropic,” Rodriguez says of KeyCentrix founder Bruce Cochener, who died in 2012. “We felt we could reinforce our identity as a technology company while also honoring his values by endowing a scholarship for students at WSU, particularly in the area of technology studies.”

The KeyCentrix/Bruce G. Cochener scholarship targets students in their last year or two of college. “We want to support those individuals who have a lot of energy and focus, and need a little extra push to get out there and start their careers,” Rodriguez says.

KeyCentrix is “a big fan” of Wichita State, he says.

“The university has a keen eye as to what our company needs and what talent they can produce. I think they’re very engaged in our community, especially lifting up students from diverse backgrounds. We’re proud to support an institution focused on that.”

Meritrust Credit Union

Meritrust has supported programs that help boost student success at Wichita State for years. In 2018, the company turned its focus to business students, investing generously in a new program called Professional Edge. Students in the W. Frank Barton School of Business participate in the program to acquire workplace skills that give them an edge in their careers. Recently, the company enhanced its investment in Professional Edge as part of the Barton School’s launch of a new program focused on career development.

“We love to see the approach this program takes, helping to shape future professionals with unique skills like the art of networking, success in interviews and even meal etiquette,” says Meritrust President James Nastars. “We know these tools will give them more confidence during their entire financial and professional journey.”

Meritrust also has contributed to the campaign to build a new home for the Barton School, which will open this fall. Nastars serves on the Barton School’s Dean’s Advisory Board, helping to develop the school’s mission and priorities.

“If we provide opportunities for students to be successful,” Nastars says, “they can certainly help make our communities stronger, help make them economically vibrant and help bring opportunity to more and more people.”

Spirit Aerospace

Spirit Aerosystem’s corporate giving strategy rests on three pillars, says Justin Welner, a senior vice president for the manufacturing giant. One of those pillars is growing people – that is, educating people to help make sure Spirit has the talent pipeline so crucial to its business.

“Our partnership with WSU crosses every facet of the learning ecosystem, from WSU Tech to the main university to NIAR to our presence on the Innovation Campus,” Welner says. “This support isn’t just helping Spirit. It’s supporting the entire aerospace industry in this community and it supports the entire region.”

Spirit gives generously every year to a wide variety of engineering and business education programs at WSU. The company also supports a significant scholarship program at WSU.

“When I think about the impact of this giving, I think about shared success,” Welner says. “Spirit’s success is highly linked to Wichita State’s success. Together, we make this region better and stronger.”

Angela Dudley
Angela Dudley

Learn more about how your company can partner with Wichita State by contacting Angela Dudley, WSU Foundation associate vice president for corporate relations, at 316.978.3837 or

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