WSU Mourns Death of President

A Kansas college is mourning the loss of its leader. The president of Wichita State University has passed away.

According to the school, John William Bardo, 13th president of Wichita State University, died March 12, 2019 at Wesley Medical Center. He was 70 years old.

Dr. Bardo was an innovator, nationally recognized scholar and deep believer in the value of public research universities.

Dr. Bardo first entered the hospital in late November 2018, suffering complications from a chronic lung condition. After spending several weeks in rehabilitation and at home, he returned to Wesley last weekend.

He is survived by Deborah Bardo, his wife of 44 years, and their son, Christopher.

Funeral services will be private, but a Celebration of Life event for the entire WSU and Wichita community will be held later this spring on campus. Wichita State would like to extend an invitation to anyone wanting to share their memories, bring cards or sign notes of remembrance to come by the President’s Office, Morrison Hall, Room 203 during office hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) this Wednesday through Friday.

Dr. Bardo became president in July 2012. He transformed the vision of the university, leading it through a period of rapid growth focused on applied learning for students and the economic growth of the region.

Dr. Bardo began his career at Wichita State as an assistant professor of sociology and also taught and conducted research in the Hugo Wall Center for Urban Studies. During his time at WSU, he obtained a Fulbright Scholarship to Australia where he and his wife Deborah studied Americans as migrants and had a sabbatical appointment at the University of Wales at Swansea in social policy.

After leaving WSU, Dr. Bardo held appointments of growing leadership responsibility at Southwest Texas State University, the University of North Florida, Bridgewater (MA) State College and Western Carolina University, where he served as chancellor from 1995 to 2011 before returning to Wichita State.

He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1948. He grew up in that area and graduated from Oak Hills High School. After high school, Dr. Bardo attended the University of Cincinnati, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics (1970). He also studied economics and social policy at the University of Southampton, England, during his junior year.

After graduating from Cincinnati, Dr. Bardo received a master’s degree in sociology from Ohio University (1971) and a Ph.D. in sociology (1973) from Ohio State University. He also attended the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard.

Richard Muma, Provost and Acting President released the following message:

President Bardo had a profound positive impact on Wichita State and the community. Future generations of students will benefit from his foresight and leadership. He will be greatly missed. In coming days, the university will schedule a memorial event to honor him.

Even during his illness these last few months, Dr. Bardo remained keenly interested in the work of the university. The strategy, vision, mission and goals developed under his leadership will continue to guide us as we move forward, together.

Our thoughts are with John’s wife, Deborah, and their son Christopher.

The university is collecting tributes to Dr. Bardo. If you have thoughts or recollections to share, please send them to [email protected].

Wichita State University Photo