Getting to know First Lady Deborah and WSU President John Bardo

WSU President John Bardo
John Bardo, new Wichita State University president, shares some insights into his personal thoughts and professional views about WSU.

This is the first of a three-part interview with President John Bardo. Please read the next two issues of Horizon to learn about how he and First Lady Deborah Bardo met, Bardo’s plans to continue strengthening ties with the local industry, key areas of the university’s future strategic plan and more.

What was the most positive factor in your joint decision to apply?

Over the years, I kept in contact with Wichita State and because of family, Deborah and I visited Wichita often. I think that we both felt that under Shirley and Don’s leadership, the university had grown and matured and that both the city and the university were well positioned for the future. We really wanted to be part of that.

While you were a WSU faculty member, is there anything you meant to do or see in Wichita or in Kansas, but didn’t and now plan to?

There are not many places that we did not get to in Kansas that we wanted to visit. We liked taking daytrips, so we were able to get around the state and see much of it. There are a number of things that developed over the years that I am looking forward to seeing. One that is on the top of my list is the Chihuly work at the Wichita Art Museum. I also look forward to again strolling in Riverside Park and taking advantage of some of the new developments along the riverfront.

What three words would you use to describe each other?

“We will, as a university community, continuously work to moderate costs while focusing on enhancing the quality of education.”

WSU President
John Bardo

As for Deborah, it is hard to limit this to three words, but I would say “caring, kind and tolerant.” Regarding me, Deborah said “enthusiastic, loyal and visionary.” By the way, Deborah is of Greek ancestry on her mother’s side and you may hear me call her “Koukla.” That is a Greek nickname and it is how she is known to her family and the Greek community in Wichita.

How do you plan to soften the strain on students regarding rising tuition?

This is one of the really difficult issues facing WSU and all universities today. We need to assure that we are being effective and efficient in the use of the resources we have and that we understand that when we increase costs, we do so with a strong eye to quality and value.

I also will be working with the WSU Foundation to continue efforts to raise funds to support institutional quality as well as student financial aid. To the extent that we can find external support, we can continue to be competitive while moderating the costs to students. As a good friend of mine has said often “access to education without quality is no bargain.” So, we will, as a university community, continuously work to moderate costs while focusing on enhancing the quality of education. From my perspective, WSU is already the best value in Kansas and we need to maintain that core value proposition and, to the extent possible, tie any increases in costs to enhancement of quality.


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