Wichita State University

Wichita State University (WSU) is a public research university in Wichita, Kansas, United States. It is governed by the Kansas Board of Regents. The university offers more than 60 undergraduate degree programs in more than 200 areas of study in nine colleges. The university's graduate school offers more than 50 master's degrees in more than 100 areas and a specialist in education degree and 13 doctoral degrees. It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".[10]

Wichita State University
Former names
Fairmount College (1895–1926)
Municipal University of Wichita (1926–1964)
TypePublic research university
EstablishedSeptember 11, 1895; 128 years ago (1895-09-11)
Parent institution
Kansas Board of Regents
Academic affiliation
Endowment$320.1 million (2022)[1]
Budget$606.3 million (2023)[2]
PresidentRichard Muma[3]
ProvostShirley Lefever[4]
Academic staff
Students17,548 (Fall 2023)[5][6]
Undergraduates13,610 (Fall 2023)[5]
Postgraduates3,938 (Fall 2023)[5]
Location, ,
United States[7]

37°43′09″N 97°17′35″W / 37.71917°N 97.29306°W / 37.71917; -97.29306
CampusLarge city, 330 acres (1.3 km2)
Other campuses
NewspaperThe Sunflower[8]
ColorsBlack and yellow[9]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IThe American


Naming history
Years Name
1895–1926 Fairmount College
1926–1964 Municipal University of Wichita (WU)
1964–present Wichita State University (WSU)

The idea behind Wichita State University began in 1886. Rev Joseph Homer Parker founded a private women's Congregational preparatory school which was supported mainly by Wichita's Plymouth Congregational Church, Rev. Parker's church. The school never opened its doors.

Called the "Young Ladies College," "Wichita Ladies College" and "Congregational Female College" and founded during a boom in college and university creation, the private school was envisioned to admit women twelve years and older. In early 1887, the project's leaders received a land parcel from the developers of the adjacent Fairmount Neighborhood and, in response, renamed their school Fairmount College. Envisioned to be the "Vassar of the West," the streets of the neighboring residential areas were named after prominent women's colleges including Vassar and Holyoke. The street names remain in 2023.

In 1892, a corporation bought the property and named the preparatory school Fairmount Institute. Also known as Fairmount Academy, this Congregational church prep school opened in September to boys and girls age 12 and above.

In 1895, on the same site, Fairmount College opened collegiate classes for men and women with funding by the Congregational Education Society. The society selected Dr. Nathan Jackson Morrison to be the president of the new college.

During the 1900s and 1910s, the school grew with structures including a men's dormitory, Fiske Hall, begun in 1904 and dedicated June 1906, and a Carnegie library, built in 1908, occupied in January 1909 and dedicated in January 1910.

Fairmount trustees decided to phase out and eventually close the institute after the 1915 school year. For 20 years, students of the institute formed the nucleus of Fairmount College's student body.

The school's mascot, the "wheatshockers," came about during a football game in 1906 and referred to the fact that many of the football players also shocked wheat during the harvest.

Amid growing financial troubles in the 1920s, the college's supporters tried to get the city of Wichita to buy it in 1925, but failed. A second referendum passed in 1926, and that fall it became the Municipal University of Wichita (popularly known as "Wichita University" or "WU"). It was the first municipal university west of the Mississippi.

By the 1950s, university leaders and President Harry Corbin explored adding the institution to the State of Kansas Regents System along with the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. These two schools had powerful friends who did not feel that the University of Wichita was on par with the state's two main universities. It took a concerted lobbying effort on the part of WU boosters to persuade the legislature and governor to agree to the change. On July 1, 1964, the school officially entered the state system of higher education as Wichita State University (WSU).[11]

Located on campus is the original building of the first Pizza Hut. The original building was located at Kellogg and Bluff. An effort to move it out of the path of Kellogg expansion resulted in the building coming to Wichita State University in the 1980s. After three decades of being located near the campus water tower, the building underwent a second move. In 2017, the university moved it to its current location on the Innovation Campus.



The Main Campus is located at 1845 North Fairmount in northeast Wichita, is mostly bounded between the streets of 17th St N, 21st St N, Hillside St, Oliver Ave. The Hughes Metropolitan Complex and Advanced Education in General Dentistry buildings, located at the intersection of 29th St N and Oliver Ave, are considered part of the main campus.

WSU has seven satellite locations:[12]

  • WSU West is located at 3801 North Walker in Maize, Kansas. This 9 acre (3.6 ha) campus hosts 80 to 100 university classes each academic semester.[13]
  • WSU South is located at 3821 East Harry Street, Suite B105 in Wichita. This campus began offering Wichita State University coursework in January 2008 at its original location at 200 West Greenway in Derby, Kansas before moving to its current location on July 1, 2018.[14]
  • WSU Haysville is located at 106 Stewart Ave in Haysville, Kansas.
  • WSU McConnell is located at McConnell Air Force Base.[15]
  • WSU Old Town - A is located at 238 N. Mead in downtown Wichita.
  • WSU Old Town - B is located at 213 N. Mead in downtown Wichita.
  • WSU Old Town - C is located at 121 N. Mead in downtown Wichita.

Since July 1, 2018, the Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology, also known as "WSU Tech" and formerly known as the Wichita Area Technical College, is located at 4004 N. Webb Road in Wichita.[16]



WSU is one of three research institutions in the state of Kansas, along with Kansas State University (KSU) and the University of Kansas (KU).

Research facilities include:

  • National Institute for Aviation Research, which has multiple facilities:
    • Aircraft Structural Test and Evaluation Center (ASTEC) in the former Kansas Coliseum near Park City.
    • Advanced Technologies Lab for Aerospace Systems (ATLAS), a manufacturing research lab
    • Virtual Engineering & Flight Laboratory
    • Crash Dynamics Laboratory
    • Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel
  • Applied Psychology Research Institute (Jabara Hall)
  • Biology research labs (Hubbard Hall)
  • Chemistry research labs (McKinley Hall)
  • Physics research labs (Jabara Hall)
  • WSU Field Station
  • Innovation Campus


Hubbard Hall (2011)
Ulrich Museum of Art (2007)
Grace Memorial Chapel (2011)

The university comprises the following academic colleges and schools:

  • College of Applied Studies (formerly College of Education)[17]
  • College of Engineering[18]
  • College of Fine Arts[19]
  • College of Health Professions[20]
  • Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College[21]
  • Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences[22]
  • Graduate School[23]
  • College of Innovation and Design (Formerly Institute for Interdisciplinary Innovation) [24]
  • W. Frank Barton School of Business[25]

The Aerospace Engineering department was founded in 1928 and has longstanding collaborative relationships with Airbus North America, Boeing, Bombardier-Learjet, Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, Spirit AeroSystems, and other Wichita aviation concerns. The department teaches in the areas of composites, structures, Engineering mechanics, computational Fluid dynamics, applied Aerodynamics, and Flight simulation. Students can readily do internships at the nearby airports and many airplane companies like Cessna, Learjet, etc.

The Wichita State University Libraries have holdings of more than 2 million volumes, over 350 electronic databases[26] and more than 70,000 journal subscriptions. The University Libraries consist of the main Ablah Library,[27] the McKinley Chemistry Library,[28] the Thurlow Lieurance Music Library[29] and University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives.[30] The libraries are open to community users and serve as a regional United States Federal Government Documents Depository, a State of Kansas Government Documents Depository, and is the State of Kansas' only Patents and Trademarks Library.[31] WSU Special Collections and University Archives contains numerous rare books, incunabula, historical manuscripts collections, maps and photographic archives documenting Kansas history, as well as hosting the Wichita Photo Archives.[32] The library faculty offer workshops[33] throughout the year to students and community members.

Innovation Campus


In 2014, President John Bardo announced plans to launch a major academic and student life initiative, dubbed the "Innovation Campus."[34] The plan includes public/private partnerships with domestic and international companies that would build offices on the WSU main campus and collaborate with the students and faculty on research projects and product development through a technology transfer system. The plan kicked off with the completion of renovations to the university's student union, the Rhatigan Student Center, and the opening of Shocker Hall, a new 318,000-square-foot, 784-bed housing facility on the main campus. Subsequent development has taken place on the site of the former Braeburn Golf Course, a WSU-owned course adjacent to campus which closed in November 2014.[35] Ground broke on the first building, the Technology Transfer/Experiential Learning Building, in Q1 2015.[36] The university has secured on-campus partnerships with multiple companies including Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp, which moved its entire Wichita operations into a new building on campus; Airbus; Deloitte; Textron Aviation; Boston Consulting Group; and Dassault Systèmes to name a few. The Innovation Campus has added more than 15 buildings to campus, including Woolsey Hall, a new building for the Frank W. Barton School of Business;[37] a new residence hall; commercial offices; "creative collision" facilities; two mixed-use developments and a hotel.[38]

Wichita Biomedical Campus


In October 2022, President Richard Muma announced that Wichita State University, WSU Tech and the University of Kansas were moving forward with plans to build an approximately 470,000‑square‑foot, $300 million shared biomedical campus in the heart of downtown Wichita.[39] The project, later dubbed the Wichita Biomedical Campus, would create a centrally located corridor where health care services, education, research and technology can be established near existing private hospitals and health care providers. The project, expected to break ground in 2024, received a boost in April 2023 when the Kansas Legislature set aside $142 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds.[40]

Student life

Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity[41] Total
White 60% 60
Hispanic 14% 14
Asian 7% 7
Other[a] 7% 7
Black 6% 6
Foreign national 5% 5
Native American 1% 1
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 36% 36
Affluent[c] 64% 64


  • Shocker Hall - freshman coed dorms (by suite), D-shape four five-story buildings (800 bed) with attached dining hall and coffee shop, located between Cessna Stadium and Morrison Hall, opened in 2014.[42]
  • The Suites - freshman coed dorms (by suite), L-shape four-story building (225 bed), located southeast of "The Flats", opened in 2019.[42]
  • The Flats - upperclassmen coed apartments (by suite), two four-story buildings (286 bed), located between Eck Stadium and Woolsey Hall, opened in 2017 as privately owned.[42]
  • Brennan Hall I - men's dorms later coed (by floor), four-story building, located at southwest corner of 17th and Yale, opened in 1953, repurposed as WSU offices in 2014,[43] WSU is planning to demolish it.[44] In 1986, part of 1st floor was remodeled into a dining hall. Public restroom was on 1st floor. 2nd to 4th floor each had one large restroom and showers per floor. 2nd floor was women only, 3rd & 4th floor was men only.
  • Brennan Hall II - men's dorms later coed (by suite), three-story building, located at southwest corner of 17th and Yale, opened in 1962, repurposed as WSU offices in 2014,[43] WSU is planning to demolish it.[44]
  • Brennan Hall III - women's dorms (by suite), three-story building, located at southwest corner of 17th and Yale, opened in 1962, repurposed as WSU offices in 2014,[43] WSU is planning to demolish it.[44]
  • Fairmount Towers - coed dorms (by floor, half floor, suite), two five-story buildings in L-shape (600 bed) with unattached dining hall, located at northwest corner of 21st and Hillside, opened in 1966 as private owned, purchased by WSU in 1977, demolished in 2018.[43] Fairmount North was parallel to 22nd street. Fairmount South was oriented north/south on the south side of Fairmont North in an L-shape. The commons dining hall was next to Hillside. A swimming pool was in the middle of the three buildings. Each building had an elevator in the middle, and stairs on both ends. Next to the elevator on each floor (except 1st) was a large TV room / RA bedroom / service room, most of each floor was a series of suites, each consisting of two bedrooms (each with two beds, two closets, one sink/mirror) and a shared restroom (between bedrooms) with a toilet and shower. Fairmount South: 1st floor was men only, 2nd floor was coed by suite, 3rd & 4th floors was coed by half floor (men north half, women south half), 5th floor was women only.
  • Grace Wilkie Hall - women's dorms, three-story building with attached dining hall, located between Ablah Library and Heskett Center, opened in 1953, repurposed as WSU offices in late 1970s.[45]
  • Wheatshocker Hall - coed apartments, U-shape six-story building, located on north side of 17th (where GoCreate and John Bardo Center is currently located), opened in 1965 as privately owned, later purchased by WSU, gutted and remodeled in 1994, demolished in 2014.[43]
  • Fiske Hall - men's dorms, four-story stone and brick building, located south of McKinley Hall, opened in 1905 as dorms until 1926, repurposed as various WSU departments and offices, currently the oldest building on WSU campus.[46]
  • Holyoke Cottage - women's dorms, two-story wood house, located at northwest corner of 16th and Holyoke, built in 1887 as home of Rev. J.H. Parker, sold to Fairmount College in 1897 to be used as women's dorms until 1933, student apartments in 1960s and 1970s, sold in 1987 as a privately owned home then resold again in 2005, might be the oldest former WSU building that still exists.[47]
  • Holyoke Hall - women's dorms, three-story wood building, located next door to Holyoke Cottage, built in 1915 as dorms until 1933, housed Army Air Force cadets during World War II, demolished in 1946 after the war.[47]

Fraternities and sororities


Recognized fraternities and sororities at the university include:[48]

Interfraternity Greek Council Multicultural Greek Council National Pan-Hellenic Council Panhellenic Council
Beta Theta Pi fraternity Chi Sigma Tau fraternity Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority Alpha Phi sorority
Delta Upsilon fraternity Kappa Delta Chi sorority Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Delta Delta Delta sorority
FarmHouse fraternity Lambda Pi Upsilon sorority Delta Sigma Theta sorority Delta Gamma sorority
Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity Mu Delta Alpha sorority Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity Gamma Phi Beta sorority
Phi Delta Theta fraternity Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity Omega Psi Phi fraternity Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority
Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity Sigma Psi Zeta sorority Phi Beta Sigma fraternity
Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity Sigma Gamma Rho sorority
Zeta Phi Beta sorority



The Wichita State (WSU) athletic teams are called the Shockers. The university is a member of the NCAA Division I ranks, primarily competing in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) since the 2017–18 academic year. The Shockers previously competed in the D-I Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) from 1945–46 to 2016–17; as an Independent from 1940–41 to 1944–45; in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIC) from 1923–24 to 1939–40; and in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1902–03 to 1922–23.

WSU competes in 15 intercollegiate athletic teams:[49] Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, tennis and track & field (indoor and outdoor); while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, softball, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball. Also, it offers club sports such as crew, bowling, shooting sports, and other intramural sports.



The name for WSU's athletic teams is the Shockers and students are also collectively referred to as "Shockers." The name reflects the university's heritage: Early students earned money by shocking, or harvesting, wheat in nearby fields. Early football games were played on a stubbled wheat field. Pep club members were known as Wheaties. Tradition has it that in 1904, football manager and student R.J. Kirk came up with the nickname Wheatshockers.[50] Although the Wheatshockers name was never officially adopted by the university, it caught on and survived until it was later shortened to Shockers. Until 1948, the university used a nameless shock of wheat as its symbol. WuShock came to life when junior Wilbur Elsea won the Kappa Pi honorary society's competition to design a mascot typifying the spirit of the school. Elsea, who had been a Marine during World War II, decided that "the school needed a mascot who gave a tough impression, with a serious, no-nonsense scowl."

Once Elsea's mascot was adopted by the university, which by that time was known as the Municipal University of Wichita, all that was needed was a name. The October 7, 1948, issue of The Sunflower, the student newspaper, ran an advertisement urging students to submit names for the school's new mascot. It was freshman Jack Kersting who suggested the winning name, "WuShock."

During the 1980s, WuShock briefly had a sidekick named WeeShock, that was introduced as an attempt to make the mascot more appealing to children.[51]

In 1998, WuShock, also referred to as "Wu," marked his 50th birthday by undergoing a redesign and getting a pumped-up physique and revved-up attitude. The mascot's costume has changed over the years, as well. With the redesign, a new costume was introduced in fall 1998. In fall 1999, the head of the new costume underwent another redesign after a number of supporters suggested the mascot needed a more intimidating look. In 2006 it was decided to once again update the Wu costume. The general consensus was that many wanted the costume to more accurately reflect the depiction of WU in the school's logo. The new WuShock now has the ability to run, jump, and walk up stairs without help. Many officials feel that a more professional and intimidating mascot on the field will certainly bolster WSU's image.[52]


Charles Koch Arena is home to the Wichita State Shockers men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball teams. (2016)

The men's basketball team has played in the NCAA tournament 16 times since 1954, advancing to the Final Four in 1965 and 2013, the Elite Eight in 1981, and the Sweet Sixteen in 2006 and 2015, and also entering the 2014 NCAA tournament unbeaten. The team also won the 2011 National Invitation Tournament Championship, beating the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Shockers have three alumni currently playing in the NBA in Fred VanVleet, Landry Shamet and Craig Porter Jr. Other Wichita State products who have played in the league include All-Star Xavier McDaniel, power forwards Antoine Carr, Cliff Levingston, Cleanthony Early, two-time All-American Dave Stallworth, centers Gene Wiley and Jaime Echenique, guards Gal Mekel, Toure' Murry, Ron Baker, and Greg Dreiling. Four-time All-American Cleo Littleton joined the Shocks in 1951, breaking the unofficial color barrier in the Missouri Valley Conference.


Tyler Field in Eck Stadium is home to the Wichita State Shockers baseball team. (2005)

The men's baseball team is college baseball's highest winning team for the past 31 years, with numerous conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances. The baseball team won the national championship in 1989 and was runner-up in 1982, 1991 and 1993. They play at Eck Stadium.



The men's and women's bowling teams have won 23 combined USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships,[53] including the men's 2003, 2008, 2009 and 2010 title and the women's 2005, 2007 and 2009 title.

Track and field


Shocker Track and Field History: Seven Olympians. Two National Champions. 60 NCAA All-Americans. Under Steve Rainbolt (2001–2012): 14 Missouri Valley Conference Championship Teams. 29 NCAA All-Americans.

Cross country


Men's Cross Country: Established in 1947. Eight Missouri Valley Conference titles, five consecutive (1971–75). Five NCAA All-Americans. Nine Missouri Valley Conference Champions. 46 All-MVC award winners.

Women's Cross Country: Established in 1983. 10 Missouri Valley Conference titles, six consecutive (2005–10). Four NCAA All-Americans. Six Missouri Valley Conference Champions. 56 All-MVC award winners.


Cessna Stadium west bleachers (1978)

In 1897, Fairmount College played its first football game. In 1905, the Coleman Company set up gas-powered lighting for a night game against Cooper College (now Sterling College), which became the first night football game played west of the Mississippi River.[54] In 1905, there was an experimental game against Washburn College (now Washburn University) that had three new rules: 1) increase first down requirement from 5 yards to 10 yards, 2) allowing forward passes (suggestion came from President Theodore Roosevelt), 3) varying points (4/5/6) for a field goal kick based on the distance.[55]

The school discontinued its football program following the 1986 season due to financial red ink, NCAA recruiting violations, and WSU students voting against raising fees to pay for higher football expenses. It had never fully recovered from losing 16 starters, its athletic director, football coach and many others critical to the WSU program in a plane crash in 1970 (see below). Legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells was a linebacker at WSU in 1962 and 1963 before serving as a graduate assistant in 1964. Wichita State University was also the first Division I-A school to hire a black head coach in college football, Willie Jeffries, in 1979.[56][57]

1970 plane crash


On October 2, 1970, a plane carrying players and staff of the WSU football team took off from a Colorado airport after refueling and was bound for Logan, Utah for a game against Utah State University. It flew into a mountain valley too narrow to enable it to turn back and smashed into a mountainside, killing 31 of the 40 players, administrators, and fans near a ski resort 40 miles (64 km) away from Denver. It was the first, or "gold" plane, the twin to a second black plane. President Richard Nixon sent the president of the university a note which read, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to you in this time of sorrow." A monument exists to the south of Memorial Drive on the Wichita State Campus to commemorate those who died.

Notable alumni and faculty


Wichita State University has produced multiple notable businessmen, including the founders of Pizza Hut Dan and Frank Carney,[58] and Garmin founder Gary Burrell.[59] Notable scientists include Mona Nemer, who served as the Canadian Chief Science Advisor.[60] Notable engineers include Harold G. White,[61] lead in NASA's Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory, and Dwane Wallace,[62] President and Chairman of Cessna. In the arts, graduates included opera stars Joyce DiDonato and Samuel Ramey, actor Shirley Knight and Broadway performer Karla Burns. In athletics, notable individuals include basketball players Antoine Carr and Fred VanVleet, as well as Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells. Notable politicians include U.S. Representative Garner E. Shriver,[63] the U.S. diplomat Robert D. Blackwill[64] and Indonesian politician Sandiaga Uno.[65] U.S. Army captain Riley L. Pitts, who graduated with a degree in journalism, was the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor.[66]


  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.


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Further reading

  • History of Fairmount College (1895-1926); John Rydjord; 251 pages; 1977; ISBN 978-0700601547. (abstract) (download)
  • An Act of Faith (1955-1984); Melvin H Witrogen, Dennis Duell, Jimmy Skaggs, WSU Board of Trustees; 90 pages; 1984. (abstract) (download) - history of the struggle to bring the University of Wichita into the state university system
  • Uncloistered Halls : Centennial History of Wichita State University (1895-1995); Craig Miner, WSU Endowment Association; 360 pages; 1995. (abstract) (download)
  • Standing Proudly on the Hill : Pictorial History of Wichita State University (1895-1995); WSU Centennial Committee; 48 pages; 1995. (abstract) (download)
  • History of the College of Engineering at Wichita State University (1920s-1990s); Melvin Snyder; 66 pages; 1996. (abstract) (download)
  • History of the Psychology Department at Wichita State University (1940s-1990s); David Herman; 52 pages; 1992. (abstract)