The Wildcat Way: Innovation

Kansas State University Olathe's doors may have opened nearly three years ago, but we still have our sleeves rolled up to tackle what's next. At the university's third campus, we are building an innovation hub for learning and discovery and changing the way we engage in graduate and executive education.

In 2007, talk of a Kansas State University presence in the Greater Kansas City area turned into action. The city of Olathe donated land to establish a campus that would focus on education and research for workforce development and economic growth. A year later, Johnson County voters approved the first tax of its kind — a one-eighth-cent sales tax to finance higher education initiatives including the K-State Olathe campus, which opened on April 26, 2011.

"The Kansas City metro area is thriving and there are growing needs for talent, entrepreneurship and innovation. Our workforce needs to be ready to meet the needs of our diverse industries in this increasingly competitive and globalized world," said Prema Arasu, CEO and vice provost of the campus. "Kansas State University Olathe was created to fill the gap between the opportunities available for professional growth and what industry demands."

The campus's original focus was on applied research and technology transfer. While this foundation remains an important pillar, university leadership has continued to expand the vision to include what Kansas City industry is demanding — more talent, more innovation and workforce-relevant executive education.

Arasu said Kansas State University Olathe is integrating its approaches for research, education and training opportunities to help individuals achieve greater potential in their skills, earnings and career opportunities. Employees will gain the added technical and professional skills needed to contribute to their organization's success. Companies will in turn also partner with the campus in a multitude of educational and research opportunities, and these linkages will extend to the Manhattan and Salina campuses. With an integrated approach to education and research encompassing food, health, water, energy and environment, the campus is fulfilling its mandate for the citizens of Johnson County, bridging K-12 to K-State's many opportunities and experts.

"Kansas State University Olathe is dedicated to building more talent, enhancing the capabilities of working professionals and increasing economic opportunities for the Kansas City metro community," Arasu said. "Whether an individual is looking for a specialized workshop or a graduate degree suitable to their career development, Kansas State University Olathe will provide choices. Our challenges today and in the future increasingly require new and different ways of thinking and doing. The K-State Olathe campus will provide integrated and interdisciplinary opportunities for learning and discovery."

The campus is establishing certificate programs, professional development events, courses, degrees and more that will not only accelerate careers, but also will energize businesses in the Kansas City area and beyond.

It doesn't stop there. Kansas State University Olathe collaborates with government, industry and university partners to ensure that its programs and opportunities are filling the right need at the right time. Some of these partnerships take shape as centers and institutes located on campus.

Kansas State University Olathe recognizes that when true innovation is a top priority, the work is never finished. Always considering new ways of thinking can open doors you didn't know were there.

That's the Wildcat Way.

Wildcat Way: Lauren Bishop