From CEO and Dean Ben Wolfe: Launching the Next-Gen K-State Olathe Strategic Plan

Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023

Dear colleagues,

We are excited to share how Kansas State University Olathe is moving forward and helping to achieve the university’s Next-Gen Strategic Plan. Yesterday, we launched our campus-level plan, which we developed alongside the university's planning process to ensure alignment. We were intentional about listening to internal and external stakeholders’ input and embedding engagement to ensure our plan’s foundation is solid.

During that process, I placed before the Olathe campus four ambitious campus goals focused on growth that also align with the Next-Gen K-State strategic plan. Over the next five years, K-State Olathe will:

  • reach an enrollment of 500 students and help K-State meet our shared total enrollment goal of 30,000 learners,
  • increase the yearly-awarded research revenue to an average of $3 million per year, contributing to the university’s goal of $300 million in annual research expenditures,
  • diversify campus revenue streams to ensure greater campus sustainability and viability, and
  • enhance our campus engagement and outreach to strengthen the pipeline of industry and community partnerships.

We are One K-State and together we are taking bold actions to improve the lives of the people in Kansas and around the world through teaching, research and service.

As we continue looking forward, I am excited to share two new campus initiatives that will help us reach our ambitious goals.

First, we are kicking off an initiative to build a strong education and research program to meet the needs of the advanced manufacturing and supply chain industries in the Greater Kansas City area, the State of Kansas and throughout the nation. We recognize that to meet these training and educational needs we will need to think differently how we deliver content and knowledge and meet learners where they are.

We will do this by breaking the traditional mold. This means operating as a 12-month campus, which means offering 8-week course schedules, rolling admissions and hands-on learning with flexible delivery to fit into students’ work and family life. Newly designed advanced manufacturing bachelor completion degrees will be developed to accept up to 75 credit hours and have a seamless transition from community colleges. By Spring 2025, in partnership with K-State Salina, we also will be offering bachelor’s degree completion programs in engineering technology with an emphasis in robotics and automation, electrical and computer, and mechanical.

Plans are already underway to renovate 7,500 square feet of unfinished space on our campus to build state-of-the-art teaching laboratories for students in our engineering technology and advanced manufacturing degree programs, as well as to support research efforts. Part of the unfinished space design will include a raw materials handling research center, which will provide applied research and industry-sponsored projects to help solve manufacturing and raw material problems for companies. This center will be used for research and development, and also for teaching degree-seeking students and upskilling current employees.

Our second initiative is to elevate our existing research activities and partner with researchers across the university to become a leader in Food as Medicine and Community Health. When thinking about the role of a next-generation, land-grant university, the Olathe campus is uniquely positioned to tackle grand societal challenges by focusing on community health and wellbeing, sustainability, global food security and enabling technologies. It’s no secret that K-State Olathe, supported by the Johnson County Education Research Triangle, has a long-standing, strong research program in urban food systems, food safety, 1Data and consumer and sensory research. We also know the impact food— from access, affordability and nutrition — has on health, which is why we are excited to announce this effort. Food as Medicine, as a new focus area for the campus, directly aligns with K-State's opportunity agenda and will transform how we prevent and treat diseases in the future.

To support these new initiatives, I am excited to announce an investment of $3.5 million to support the Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chain initiative, and we are committing an investment of $4 million to establish a hub for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research focused on Food as Medicine and Community Health. We are able to move forward with these intiativesinitiatives due to the funding received from the Johnson County Education and Research Triangle.

I encourage you to visit the Olathe strategic plan website to learn more about our efforts. We are proud to be One K-State, and together we are taking bold actions to improve the lives of the people in Kansas and around the world through teaching, research and service.

Ben Wolfe, Ph.D.
Dean and CEO
K-State Olathe