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John Bardo Remembered At Celebration Of Life At Wichita State

Audrey Korte
School faculty and community members attend Wichita State's public "celebration of life" for former President John Bardo Thursday.

Wichita State University held a "celebration of life" Thursday for former President John Bardo.

More than 100 school and community members attended the public event on campus.

Bardo became Wichita State’s 13th president in 2012 and served in the role until his death earlier this year following a long illness.

Credit Audrey Korte / KMUW
WSU Tech President Sheree Utash speaks at the event.

His colleagues and staff remembered him as an innovator who transformed the school, from its academics, to its athletics, to its reputation in the country.

Sheree Utash, president of WSU Tech, recalled working with Bardo to affiliate the two schools.

“John Bardo, in my 30 months working with him, he challenged me to think differently," she said. "I know for all of you, he challenged all of us to think differently. He challenged us to be bold, be courageous."

In his time at WSU, Bardo built Shocker Hall, the first new residence hall on campus since the 1960s; increased efforts to recruit students, including from along the I-35 corridor; and moved WSU athletics from the Missouri Valley Conference to the American Athletic Conference. He also launched the sprawling Innovation Campus in 2014, bringing in private companies to work alongside the school.

"He had the vision," said John Tomblin, vice president for Research and Technology Transfer. "From using an academic world and how that can be an economic driver was just remarkable."

Utash echoed what had become Bardo's signature phrase: "It's a great day to be a Shocker."

"We are so fortunate that his legacy will live on with all of us," she said, "and it will inform many generations to come."

Follow Nadya Faulx on Twitter @NadyaFaulx. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Nadya Faulx is KMUW's Digital News Editor and Reporter, which means she splits her time between working on-air and working online, managing news on KMUW.org, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. She joined KMUW in 2015 after working for a newspaper in western North Dakota. Before that she was a diversity intern at NPR in Washington, D.C.