Friends University making positive strides

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

I had the good fortune of attending a “State of the Organization” breakfast this week at Friends University in Wichita. Friends President Amy Bragg Carey updated a gathering of community leaders, faculty and boosters on major milestones hit by the University in the past year. It was an informative look at the pressures facing higher education today, including competition for students,  quality job placement for graduates, concerns about costs and rising student debt. It was these pressures, along with declining enrollment and a challenging financial outlook, that faced President Carey when she took over the helm in 2015.

The entire University community has responded well to this challenge, evidenced by the two-year Revitalization & Growth Plan adopted on campus. The plan focuses on Friends’ mission, focuses on the University’s strengths and proactively addresses the organization’s bottom line. Dr. Carey was quick to point out that the past year included some tough financial decisions, but has laid the groundwork for a turnaround at Friends University.

Of course, the success of any educational institution depends greatly on its ability to meet marketplace demands. Friends has a history of that and is nationally recognized for programs like zoology and spiritual formation. In the last year, they have also launched the first cyber security program in Wichita to meet the need to defend information infrastructure of business, government and the military. Friends also launched an innovative special education program that allows teaching licensure within a year, helping Kansas meet the increasing demand for special education teachers. Quality programs and affordability landed Friends at No. 44 on LendEDU’s 2016 College Risk-Reward Indicator. The indicator ranks institutions in terms of average student loan debt (risk) and average early career salary (reward). Friends was the highest ranking college in Kansas on the list.

At the conclusion of the presentation, one member of the audience summed up what everyone in the room was thinking: President Carey’s leadership in her first year has been the key to this turnaround at Friends. Dr. Carey deflects that credit to a supportive board and engaged team, but she certainly has built a tremendous culture on campus and is having an impact through her involvement in the Wichita Metro Chamber and other organizations. We are delighted to have Amy and Bryan as new members of the Wichita community!

 

 

 

Promoting Wichita’s superior workforce and supply chain

The Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC) is promoting Wichita’s exceptional workforce and world-class aviation supply chain this week during the 2014 NBAA Business Convention in Orlando, FL at Booth #2067.  The Wichita Airport Authority, National Center for Aviation Training, National Institute for Aviation Research, Wichita AeroClub and the Kansas Department of Commerce are partnering with GWEDC as well as five local private sector companies:  Capps Manufacturing, CE Machine, Harlow Aerostructures, Impresa Aviation, and Image Resources Group.3col_vert_with_tag

GWEDC President Tim Chase said, “Wichita has the strongest pro-aviation business environment in the world and we have a unique story to share with NBAA participants about the breadth and depth of our capabilities.We will be promoting the fact that Wichita has the number one workforce for aviation engineering knowledge and advanced manufacturing skills.”

This year GWEDC and its partners will be promoting some of Wichita’s key differentiators:

  • The world’s top general aviation OEM’s – Textron Aviation’s Cessna and Beechcraft as well as Bombardier’s Learjet
  • More than 350 of aviation’s top suppliers
  • A world-class, skilled aviation workforce
  • The world’s largest aerospace R&D academic institution
  • Aviation training curriculum that sets global standards
  • Multiple options for general aviation air service and the state’s largest commercial airport

Trade show participants can attend GWEDC’s Talent Central Celebration on Wednesday, October 22, from 3:30 to 4 p.m. to meet Wichita City Council Representative Pete Meitzner. Meitzner will discuss the pro-business climate in the Air Capital that has fostered innovation and investment in Wichita.