Brent Mai stands in front of a bookcase

Brent Mai has been named the next dean of Wichita State University’s Libraries, effective Oct. 15.

Previously serving as the dean of the Thomas G. Carpenter Library at the University of North Florida since 2019, dean of libraries at Fairfield University from 2016 to 2019 and the University Libraries dean of Concordia University from 2003 to 2016, Mai brings nearly 30 years of experience working in academic libraries to WSU.

Mai will replace Kathy Downes, who retires in September. Downes served as dean since 2017, but initially came to WSU in 1979 as a biomedical librarian.

Daniel Bergman in a superhero mask

Daniel Bergman grew up in O’Neill, Nebraska, buying comic books at the grocery store.  

“It was hit or miss — if you had money, or if you could beg your parents,” he said. 

Those superheroes stuck with Bergman through his college days at the University of Nebraska and into his career as a teacher. The powers, the costumes, the origins and the variety of story-telling techniques captivated him as graphic novels and blockbuster movies turned the crime-fighters into entertainment powerhouses. 

Engineering students works on the new handrails in Charles Koch Arena

Thatcher Luginbill-Ruder will see his work in the lab pay off for fans every time the Shockers play in Charles Koch Arena.

Two of those fans are special to Luginbill-Ruder, a senior industrial engineering major from Olathe. Grandparents Errol and Suzanne Luginbill are Wichita State University alums and loyal fans of the Shockers.

When the Luginbills attend games in Koch Arena, the walk to their seats will be safer and easier, thanks to a collaboration between Shocker Athletics, the College of Engineering’s Innovation Hub and the Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization. Around 400 handrails are being installed in aisles above the entryways in the upper bowl and in the lower bowl behind the baselines.

Lactation room in the John Bardo Center

August is National Breastfeeding Month, and Wichita State has received the Gold Level Employer Supporting Breastfeeding award and has been designated as a “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” campus by the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition.

These designations acknowledge WSU’s efforts to incorporate lactation support into the university’s culture and establishes WSU as an employer concerned about the health and well-being of the campus community. WSU provides a supportive environment for faculty, staff, employees and students to reach their breastfeeding goals by providing private locations and flexible time to pump and have written policy to support lactating people.

Private, comfortable places to accommodate lactation needs of employees, students and campus visitors are available on the WSU main campus and satellite locations.

Construction zone at Clinton Hall, soon to be the Shocker Success Center

Wichita State University’s campus continues to evolve, guided by a commitment to the people, businesses and economy of our state. As you return to campus, you will notice construction cranes, dirt moving and updates to existing buildings.

Kathy Downes stands in the courtyard in front of the Ablah Library

While libraries underwent significant transformation, Kathy Downes adapted without changing the focus of her job.

“They do a lot of listening to our students,” said Dr. Shirley Lefever, executive vice president and provost at Wichita State University. “She reads a lot, and so she is always looking ahead for ‘What’s the next big thing,’ and what is the role of the university?’”

Downes, dean of University Libraries since 2017, came to Wichita State in 1979 as a biomedical librarian. She also served as assistant dean, associate dean and senior associate dean. She will retire in September.

Students in the Engineers without Borders program pose with the local community in Ecuador

Several Wichita State University engineering students are bringing Shocker innovation to a tiny village in Ecuador.

Through the WSU chapter of Engineers without Borders, three students recently began the process of working with the rural community of Mercedes de Agua Sucia in Manabi, Ecuador, to build a pedestrian bridge that will give residents safe passage to the main road and nearby cities to sell the goods and products from their farms, shop in nearby El Carmen, and for children to attend school.

Three students — Julian Vasquez, a sophomore in electrical engineering from Wylie, Texas; Austin Rempel, a junior in product design and manufacturing from Hillsboro, Kansas; and Nicolas Reyes, a senior in computer engineering from Oklahoma City— traveled to Ecuador over the summer to begin assessing the community’s needs.

Hannah Bui is now prepared to work with French-speaking colleagues at Airbus, thanks to “Business French for Beginners” taught by Wichita State lecturer Rachelle Swilley.

Bui, a static stress engineer at Airbus, was one of about 15 employees who took the six-week course, taught for two hours each Friday, this summer at Airbus on WSU’s Innovation Campus.

Airbus, headquartered in France, also has nine locations in seven Canadian cities, most notably Mirabel in French-speaking Quebec. The course focuses on phrases and vocabulary that will help Airbus employees with travel and basic work interactions.

The Starship Technologies delivery robot on campus

Wichita State Dining is going high tech with the rollout of robotic food delivery on campus, thanks to a partnership with Starship Technologies.

Starting today (Aug. 14), Starship’s fleet of autonomous, on-demand robots are available to deliver food from the following campus restaurants:

  • RSC Starbucks
  • Panda Express
  • Freddy’s Frozen Custard
  • Tu Taco
  • Market at Groundhouse
  • Cargill Cafe
  • Black & Gold Grill: A Delivery Ghost Kitchen
Wichita State and WSU Tech's impact on Kansas' economy: $1.3 billion

Wichita State University and WSU Tech are key drivers of economic growth, fueling job creation, fostering industry partnerships, and supporting local businesses — and the numbers prove it. According to the 2022 Economic Impact Study, WSU and WSU Tech’s total economic impact in Kansas in 2021 was $1.3 billion.

The study, published recently by WSU’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research, used best practices laid out by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and Association of American Universities.

WSU and WSU Tech’s impact on the Kansas economy is substantial and can be seen through a variety of metrics.