Miller reiterates Wichita’s mission as urban university

11:43:21 AM CDT - Friday, September 22, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

In the past it was billed as “the metropolitan advantage.” It was hinged on WSU’s unique niche within the Kansas regents system as the only state university located in a metropolitan setting.

WSU’s urban setting is what WSU needs to focus on, WSU’s new vice president for academic affairs and research Gary L. Miller said in his first address to faculty since coming to WSU this summer. He gave his speech earlier this month at an assembly to welcome new faculty.

“I suggest to you that we are first and foremost an urban-serving university,” he said, noting that WSU has an obligation “to meet the higher education demands of a population having a vast array of ages, backgrounds, career motivations, and economic resources that represent the great character of our city and the immediate region.”

As he talked about WSU’s urban setting, Miller said, “these characteristics not only make us unique in Kansas, these features of Wichita State University and its environment also put us in the center of a growing movement in American higher education. This movement is focused on how urban institutions of higher education will partner to build human capital, nurture and sustain communities in the urban environment, and develop a more constructive approach to human health – all major elements of our current mission.”

Miller also took the opportunity to talk about nine “challenges and opportunities” that he’ll be focusing on in his new position. The most immediate was WSU’s accreditation process, which culminates with an on-site visit by a Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation team next sping . Drafts of WSU’s self-study report are being prepared this fall, with a final draft being completed by December. Information related to the process will eventually be posted on the academic affairs Web page for easier access for the WSU community and those interested in reading about the self-study.

The other eight issues were continuing both faculty and graduate student support for research and defining WSU’s role in the state’s important bioscience initiative, diversity, economic development, collaboration with other education systems such as Wichita public schools, increasing enrollment, university priorities and funding, faculty support and student engagement.

For the complete text of Miller’s speech, go to http://webs.wichita.edu/?u=academicaffairs&p=/Speeches.

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