‘This university has been changed forever’: Colleagues remember President Bardo


An innovator. That’s how many remember Wichita State President John Bardo.

He died Tuesday after complications from a chronic lung condition.

Dr. Bardo’s passing hit the Wichita State community hard after the news of his passing was released.

But during this time of mourning, many are remembering his leadership, his kindness, and most importantly his efforts to create positive change.

“President Bardo was a giant,” said Lou Heldman, WSU Vice President for Strategic Communications.

“Approachable, warm, kind, generous,” said Deanna Carrithers, a grad student at WSU. 

Colleagues and students at the university have good words to say about Dr. Bardo.

“He’s a transformational president, and this university has been changed forever by his work that he’s done here over the last seven years,” said Rick Muma, Wichita State Provost and acting president.   

Dr. Bardo began his career at WSU as an assistant professor of sociology. He left the university for years but came back as president in 2012.

Colleagues say he was not afraid of implementing change. 

“Our priorities have been growing enrollment, innovative programming, new degree programs, growing our research,” said Muma.

“He appointed the first African-American female vice president in the 123 year history,” said Carrithers. “That is something that will never be done again.”

It was this willingness to look to the future, that students say really motivated them. 

“It gives us hope and inspiration that we can do better within ourselves to continue to grow,” said Marco Binford, a graduate student. “And, just absorb some of the ideas he had.”

The administration promises to carry on his legacy.

He believed in the greatness of Shockers,” said Heldman. “He would end all of his speeches ‘it’s a great day to be a Shocker.’ And, he believed it.”

Dr. Bardo’s office at Wichita State will be open until Friday if anyone wants to share a note or memory.

His funeral services will be private.

But there will be a public celebration on campus later this spring. 

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