- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita State University is considering a 20-year, multimillion-dollar proposal to add up to 20 new buildings and increase the size of the campus by about 50 percent.

The plan would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, with much of the money coming from the private sector or donations, along with some state funding, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1oSKAGl ).

The first project would be a $43 million “Experiential Building,” followed by a new business school and an Innovation Center, with an estimated cost of $70 million. Other parts of the 20-year plan include residence halls, a hotel, another student center and amenities such as ponds, walking paths and apartments for senior citizens who want to live on a college campus.

Wichita State President John Bardo said he couldn’t say what the total cost of the project would be, or how high student fees would be increased.

He has outlined the plan to the Kansas Board of Regents, state legislators, business leaders, the Wichita Chamber of Commerce and city and county development officials. On Friday, he met with Wichita State faculty and staff.

Bardo wants to break ground in January on an “experiential engineering” building, which he said would provide labs and offices filled with entrepreneurs, students and researchers. They would be connected with business partners, and feature high-tech 3-D printers, plasma cutters, high-tech lathes and lasers.

“So many businesses now, instead of doing research and development in-house, are finding that partnerships are more cost effective with universities and sometimes even with other companies,” he said.

Rep. Gene Suellentrop, a Republican from Wichita who controls the House Appropriations Committee, said he was eager to hear what Bardo is proposing, even though he’s seeking millions of dollars from the state in a time of declining revenues.

“Money is going to be real tight with the state,” Suellentrop said. “But the model Dr. Bardo is talking about has worked well elsewhere.”

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com