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KS Senate Committee Takes Up WATC-WSU Affiliation Proposal


Education and economic development leaders are asking Kansas lawmakers to approve a proposed affiliation between Wichita Area Technical College and Wichita State University.

A state Senate committee heard testimony on Monday about Senate Bill 174, which authorizes the affiliation.

Under the proposal, WATC would become the WSU Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology, and its employees would become WSU employees.

Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce President Gary Plummer says the affiliation will help with workforce development and lead to growth within the south central Kansas economy.

A statement from the Wichita Regional Chamber says others who testified in support of the proposal includes Blake Flanders, president and CEO of Kansas Board of Regents; Jeff Fluhr, president of Greater Wichita Partnership; Sheree Utash, president of WATC and John Bardo, president of WSU.

WATC would remain a separate legal entity and continue to provide two-year associate’s degrees.

The two schools had initially proposed a full merger, but Bardo and Utash proposed an affiliation instead because it would be less costly and less time-consuming.

The Kansas Board of Regents approved the proposal last month and sent it to the legislature for consideration.

If the Legislature approves the plan this year, it would then go before the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits both institutions.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.


Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.