Newman receives $1.2 million for southwest Kansas partnerships

Apr 04, 2024
Senator Jerry Moran talks with GCCC President Ryan Ruda and NU VP Alden Stout
Kansas Senator Jerry Moran talks with GCCC President Ryan Ruda and Jessica Bird while Alden Stout discusses Newman's SW Kansas partnership with a reporter.

Newman University’s goal to provide residents in southwest Kansas with new higher education opportunities has received a big financial boost.

President Kathleen Jagger, Ph.D., MPH, made an announcement to the Newman community March 28.

“Thanks to the hard work of many and support from Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, we have just been awarded a $1.2 million grant to help fund the launch of the Newman University Higher Education Access for Western Kansas Initiative.

Garden City, Kansas

“I believe this initiative is a testament to our commitment to expanding educational opportunities and bringing transformative change to the underserved areas of southwest Kansas,” Jagger added.

Newman was one of more than 450 institutions to be awarded congressionally directed spending, commonly referred to as earmarks, in the fiscal year 2024 budget that passed last month. According to Inside Higher Ed, congress is funding more than 700 projects overall, with price tags ranging from $20,000 to $36 million.

(left-right) Ryan Ruda, Jessica-Bird, Senator Moran, Alden Stout at announcement last month on the Garden City CC campus.
(left-right) Ryan Ruda, Jessica Bird, Sen. Moran, Alden Stout at announcement last month on the Garden City CC campus.

Under the leadership of Vice President of Academic Affairs Alden Stout and Dean of School of Education and Social Work Jessica Bird, Newman has been actively pursuing an initiative to fill an urgent need for higher education options in southwest Kansas. Deans David Cochran (School of Business & Technology) and Geri Tyrell (School of Healthcare Professions) have also played a major role in developing partnerships in the region for the project.

Why This Matters

The southwest Kansas region has historically faced significant educational challenges, notably the absence of four-year degree-granting institutions within a 100-mile expanse encompassing Garden City and Dodge City. This initiative is Newman’s response to that challenge, introducing bachelor’s degree programs enhanced by cutting-edge technology, with a special focus on agribusiness, to meet the specific needs of these communities.

Key Highlights

Partnerships for Progress: By forging strong partnerships with Garden City Community College, Dodge City Community College and Seward County Community College, Newman will ensure a seamless transition for students pursuing their associate degrees to continue their education with bachelor’s degree programs, all within their local area.

Innovative Learning Environments: With the aid of this funding, Newman aims to revolutionize classroom environments by incorporating advanced technology and facilitating hybrid learning models. This approach is designed to make higher education more attainable for everyone, particularly for those balancing work and family responsibilities. The creation of “smart ag labs” will introduce a practical learning experience in fields such as data analytics, enhancing productivity and exploring the frontiers of precision agriculture.

Seward CCCC Agriculture Program Liberal, Kansas

A Future in Agribusiness: This initiative not only prepares students for careers in nursing, teaching, and business but also pioneers in agribusiness, aligning education with the future of agriculture and Internet of things (IoT).

Building Local Leaders: By focusing on a curriculum that mirrors local business needs and offering unique work-study experiences, Newman is paving the way for students to become industry leaders and world changers.

“Meeting community needs is in Newman’s DNA,” Jagger said, “The example of the Sister Adorers of the Blood of Christ have paved the way for this latest work — a collaborative effort and a shared vision to empower the students and communities of Southwest Kansas.

“I believe we are setting a new standard for higher education accessibility and industry-relevant learning.”

Newman’s SW Kansas initiative

Bachelor’s programs are available in business, nursing, accelerated education and agribusiness.