February 2022
Celebrate Shockers during Black History Month
Though we celebrate Black achievement year-round, Black History Month gives us space and opportunity to focus on the significant contributions Black individuals have made throughout the history of Shocker Nation. Please take a moment with me while we celebrate some of the accomplishments and triumphs of our Black Shocker family:

  • In 1928, John Wesley Hayes and Lotta Louise Hayes become the first Black graduates of Wichita University. John earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts and went on to receive a master's degree in religion in 1931, and Lotta earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts.

  • 1974 Shocker graduate Dr. M. Lee Pelton’s reputation as a leader in higher education has led him to his current position as president and CEO of the Boston Foundation. Pelton, who studied English literature at Wichita State and at Harvard, has held deanships at Colgate and Dartmouth, served as president of Willamette University (1998-2011) and Boston’s Emerson College (2011-2021).

  • Karla Burns, 1981, was a mezzo-soprano and actress known for her portrayal of “Queenie” in Show Boat, and she was a Tony-nominated performer and the first Black person to win Britain’s most prestigious theater award. She received the Alumni Recognition Award from the WSUAA in 1988 and was inducted into the WSU College of Fine Arts HOF in 2016.

  • Cleo Littleton, 1974, is a well-known local businessman, standout Shocker basketball player and the first Black student to be elected “Jack Armstrong” (the most All-American man on campus) at the University of Wichita.

  • LaVerne Baker earned two bachelor’s degrees in 1956 and then became the first African American to earn a doctoral degree from Wichita State in 1981. 
In the News at Wichita State
Estate gift from the late Richard ‘Dick’ Smith will fund $11 million in scholarships at Wichita State, KU
A bequest from the estate of Richard "Dick" Smith will provide about $5.5 million each to Wichita State University and the University of Kansas to endow full-ride scholarships for students at each university.

A longtime resident of Wichita and the founder of Range Oil Co., Smith died in January 2021 at the age of 87.

The estate gifts were announced at a news conference on Feb. 9 attended by WSU President Rick Muma and KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, as well as Smith’s widow, Sondra Langel. Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO, and Dale Seuferling, president of the KU Endowment, also attended.
February podcast features Isaac Brown, John Rolfe
On the February episode of the Forward Together podcast, President Rick Muma talks with Shocker men's basketball coach Isaac Brown and Wichita Chamber of Commerce president and CEO John Rolfe to discuss the importance of making higher education affordable and accessible.
WSU announces winners of $64,000 Gore Scholarship
Wichita State University has selected the 2022 recipients of the Harry Gore Memorial Scholarships. Each student will receive a $64,000 scholarship to attend WSU in fall 2022.

  • Caden Carlson, Aurora High School in Aurora, Nebraska
  • Brynna Mays, Topeka West High School
  • Audrey Menzies, Piper High School in Kansas City, Kansas
GoCreate adds its innovation, expertise to building Promise Bridge
The Promise Bridge is seen as a connection between Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus and the main campus.

GoCreate, a Koch Collaborative, is strengthening that connection with its role in building the 300-foot-long pedestrian bridge that will span over a water feature south of the future Wayne and Kay Woolsey Hall. Woolsey Hall is the future home of the W. Frank Barton School of Business.

“This is where innovation meets WSU,” said Ken Wiseman, facilities manager for GoCreate. “We are where the community is able to do that innovation. We’re able to show (community partners) how to use this facility for what they do daily.”
Adelante Scholar talks about her journey to WSU
Valeria Paunetto was sifting through her email when she saw an application for the Adelante Scholarship. She doubted her chances but decided to apply anyway.

After a couple of weeks, Valeria received a call. She picked it up and learned that she had won a $20,000 Adelante Scholarship to attend Wichita State University. She is part of the first group at Wichita State University to receive the Adelante scholarship and wants to be an example to future candidates.

“It’s been a rollercoaster — an experience with its ups and downs, but I am here now and that is the important thing,” said Valeria, a freshman studying social work at Wichita State.
WSU professor wins Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant for work to assist the visually impaired
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded a grant of $243,922 to a Wichita State University researcher for his work on an app that will allow people who are visually impaired to read comic books, graphic novels and other digitized graphic materials on their devices.

Darren DeFrain, associate professor of English, and his research partner, Aaron Rodriguez, have developed an app called Vizling, which will allow users to understand reading materials that rely on visual components to help tell a story or communicate information.

DeFrain also has received grants to support his work on Vizling from the National Endowment for the Humanities for $100,000 and from the John See Innovation Award, given by Wichita State, for $11,000.

He began working on the app about three years ago with Rodriguez, a former student now completing his Ph.D. at Florida State University.

“What started as a simple series of conversations about how to make graphic novels truly accessible for visually impaired readers turned into an idea for an app that uses a unique approach to help navigate multimodal texts,” DeFrain said.
Boeing 777-300ER Freighter Conversion Program achieves significant FAA milestone
Wichita State University and Kansas Modification Center (KMC) have reached another significant milestone to advance the passenger-to-freighter aircraft conversion of the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft at WSU’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) WERX.

KMC, a Wichita-based startup and NIAR WERX submitted a Certification Plan for the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) to the FAA – moving the program one step closer to delivery of the modified aircraft to its owner.

As part of the conversion program announced in September 2020, KMC and NIAR WERX have been focused on pulling together the needed capital investment, market data, engineer development and workforce skills to be able to take delivery of their first aircraft.
College of Applied Studies appoints assistant dean for diversity and outreach
Dr. Bobby Berry has been named assistant dean for diversity and outreach for the College of Applied Studies at Wichita State University

In the newly created position, Berry will provide leadership for diversity and inclusion initiatives, oversee diversity and inclusion educational programs, and serve as a resource for students, faculty, staff, administration, and the community regarding diversity and inclusion matters. He will also provide leadership for the college’s recruitment and retention efforts.

“This new assistant dean position is critical to the college’s work in attaining our university priorities and strategic goals,” said Dr. Clay Stoldt, interim dean of the CAS. “I am really excited to see the many ways Dr. Berry will help advance our work in embodying inclusive excellence and empowering a campus culture that meets the needs of our students, faculty, staff and community.”
WSU, South Kansas in the running for up to $75 million in EDA awards
The U.S. Economic Development Administration recently awarded Wichita State University and South Kansas $500,000 to Build Back Better with the potential opportunity for a Phase 2 award of $25-75 million.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge will provide $1 billion in American Rescue Act funding to invest in America’s communities. This historic investment supports bottom-up economic development focused on advancing equity, creating good-paying jobs, helping workers to develop in-demand skills, building economic resilience, and accelerating the economic recovery for the industries and communities hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

The $500,000 Phase 1 grant, which was awarded to 60 regions out of pool of 529 applicants, will help the South Kansas region mature its cluster and prepare for the greater Phase 2 funding, which will be awarded to 20-30 regions in 2022.