The alumni association at Wichita State has become a partner with Visioneering Wichita. Begun in June 2004, Visioneering Wichita brought together Wichita citizens for the aim of identifying and developing strategies to improve the city in such key areas as economic development, recreation, quality of life and education.
Debbie Kennedy ’94, WSU Alumni Association executive director, says, “The alumni association applauds the leadership and vision that many community members are providing to the Visioneering Wichita project. We are proud to be a Visioneering Partner.”
In December 2004, Visioneering Wichita completed its first phase, which encompassed focus groups, community meetings and public presentations to more than 9,000 community citizens. The result was a 20-year vision plan for the city. Comments Kennedy, “The Wichita MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) provides rich opportunities for living, working, playing and learning. At the WSU Alumni Association, we are committed to doing what we can to make things even better because so many of our members call Wichita home.”
Led by WSU Alumni Association president Kathy Sexton ’89/92, the association formally became involved with Visioneering Wichita in the project’s second phase, which involved recruiting Vision Partners.
After various visioneers had taken stock of the city’s diverse opportunities for higher education and undertook discussions about how to bolster Wichita’s reputation as a “college city,” Sexton recognized that the association’s strategic plans already mirrored many of the strategies relating to higher education in the Visioneering Wichita master plan. Becoming a Vision Partner was a perfect fit.
“To me,” Sexton says, “Wichita is a college mecca. I received a first-class education and had quality work and entertainment opportunities both during and after college. Wichita State is the reason I live in Wichita now.” The visioneering hope then is to build on the city’s strengths in higher education and attract a wider body of students for all of its colleges and universities.
Kennedy relates, “One of the core values of the association is ‘valuing higher education.’ We know that WSU serves our community well by fostering and supporting learning, creativity, practice and social responsibility. Therefore, it naturally follows that the association wants to be involved in any way we can in furthering these values.”
Among the many association programs that complement Visioneering Wichita action steps and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to excellence in higher education at Wichita State are a number of scholarship programs, including the Drive Your Pride license plate campaign, which has contributed more than $150,000 in scholarship funds to deserving WSU students, and the Legacy Endowment Scholarship, which is for children and grandchildren of WSU grads, as well as a mentoring program in partnership with WSU Cooperative Education in which current students are paired with area alumni professionals.