One of the Memorial '70 plaques surrounded by Wichita State items

Cessna Stadium opened in 1969 as a place meant to propel Wichita State football into a new era.

A crowd of 28,245 watched the Shockers defeat Utah State 17-7 on Sept. 13 of that year. The stadium featured stands that expanded the capacity to 31,500 from 12,500. A year-long fund-raising effort for $1.5 million resulted in “lush, green synthetic grass” known as Poly-Turf, a two-level press box with private boxes, covered seating for the 220 Turf Club members and a new running track.

“It was so cool – I was from back East and the stadiums held maybe 3-4,000 people,” said Ed Plopa, a freshman defensive back in 1969. “When we played Utah State, that place was going nuts.”

This Monday, as part of the Memorial ’70 ceremony, football players, friends and families from those years received a piece of Cessna Stadium seating.

Retirees mingling at the WSU Retiree Association announcement

Wichita State University has announced the creation of the WSU Retirees Association (WSURA), aimed at providing new paths for Shocker faculty and staff retirees to continue active engagement with the university. The new association adds to the existing array of perks available to retirees. 

The association was announced Oct. 4 at Wichita State’s annual Retirees Breakfast.  

Anyone who is officially retired from WSU is automatically a member of the association. The association is organized and led by retirees and will provide new opportunities for members to connect not only with other retirees but also with the wider WSU community. This association contributes to WSU’s strength as the only Kansas member of the Age-Friendly University Global Network and as an age-inclusive campus.  

Kian Williams stands in front of a plane at the Kansas Aviation Museum

The merger of a nonprofit project and local history is a perfect fit for Wichita State University junior Kian Williams. 

“History runs in my family,” Williams said. “I was immediately hooked.” 

Wichita State’s Public Policy and Management Center is working with the Kansas Aviation Museum on strategic planning. Williams, a junior majoring in political science and international studies, is an undergraduate student research assistant assisting PPMC program manager Kate Young. 

The research and writing Williams does to help the museum chart its future connects with the background that shaped a love for history. Williams, who uses they/them pronouns, volunteered at the Reno County Museum to help Ceeley Williams, their mother, who worked as the museum’s archivist. 

Downton Wichita

Kansas home values will continue to appreciate in the coming year, according to the 2024 Kansas Housing Markets Forecast series published by the Wichita State University Center for Real Estate.

“The inventory of homes available for sale is very limited,” said Dr. Stan Longhofer, director of the WSU Center for Real Estate. “As a result, the market still favors sellers despite the softening of demand due to higher mortgage rates.” 

Longhofer will present the forecast at 10:15 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Kansas Association of Realtors Annual Conference at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan. He will be available for interviews after his presentation at about 11:30 a.m.

Fall 2023 combined enrollment 23,203. Wichita State University 17,548 headcount, 3.7% higher from 2022, WSU Tech 5,655 headcount, 12.6% higher from 2022

Wichita State University’s efforts to transform the educational experience for students and redefine the role of a university to foster statewide economic growth have yielded remarkable results: the highest enrollment in its 128-year history.  

Combined enrollment by headcount across all Wichita State University locations for fall 2023 is 23,203, according to the annual data released today by the Kansas Board of Regents.   

For the Wichita State campus, the numbers represent an increase of 3.7% in fall student headcount from 16,921 in 2022 to 17,548 in 2023. That’s the largest number of students ever choosing to enroll at Wichita State.  

At WSU Tech, student headcount increased 12.6% from 5,021 last year to 5,655 this year — also the highest headcount ever for WSU Tech. 

Bayle Sandy

Wichitan Leslie Rudd established the Rudd Foundation in 1994 and in 2018 the Rudd Scholars Program began honoring the Midwestern values that strengthen character and lead to a lifetime of success in business, community, and family.

Bayle Sandy, senior economics and political science major, was a recipient of the 2020 Rudd Scholarship.

Rendering of what the Wilkins Stadium renovations will look like

John and Gail Wadsworth have given a lead gift of $1.5 million to Wichita State University and Shocker Athletics, earmarked for the Softball Team Operations Facility at Wilkins Stadium. The building is a part of the $9.65 million Phase 1 of the stadium renovation plan, which will begin development in the spring of 2024.

“Gail and I feel so fortunate to be able to support the Shocker Softball program at Wichita State and elevate their facilities to match the caliber of the program,” said John Wadsworth. “Student athletes work incredibly hard to succeed in all aspects of their collegiate experience, and supporting projects that will benefit their development is something we encourage everyone to consider.”

John and Gail are both 1979 graduates of Wichita State University with degrees in mechanical engineering and elementary education, respectively.

Aerial view of the Innovation Campus

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) awarded $150,000 to Wichita State University to assist in providing resources and support for small businesses and start-ups focused on STEM and research and development.

The SBA’s 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage Two funded 35 accelerator partnerships to foster a thriving national innovation ecosystem that advances equitable investment in innovative startups and high growth small businesses.

Greg Heiman and Murphy Ownbey holding a FirePoint sign

Through the inaugural Student Practical Architecting Challenge (SPARC), FirePoint Innovations Center at Wichita State University awarded nearly $40,000 to two student-based teams for their novel innovations in devising future-ready, modular and adaptable software systems to support the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA) initiative.

The first-place winners Murphy Ownbey and Greg Heiman, and second place winner Aiden McGillivray, all recent graduates from Wichita State University’s College of Engineering, will be recognized during the MOSA Industry & Government Summit & Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. More than 50 teams from colleges and universities across the country participated in the SPARC competition.

Denae Sawyer in her WSU regalia

A love of reading led Denae Sawyer to seek — and earn — an internship last spring with Dzanc Books, a non-profit publisher of literary fiction and non-fiction. Sawyer, who is working on a master’s degree in innovation design at Wichita State University, spent the spring semester interning remotely for 20 hours a week.

Her work consisted of reading and researching to determine if the manuscript fit Dzanc’s standards and sensibility. She also evaluated the potential audience and marketing strategies.

“We would sift through and pick one (manuscript) that especially spoke to us,” she said. “We would start developing a really, really generic portfolio of — what is the story about, what makes it good, what is the audience, what is the marketability?”