Editor’s note: this is the third and final story in a series highlighting the history of Wright State University in the spirit of its 50 anniversary.
FAIRBORN — As the 21st century began, Wright State University began to focus on research and helping build the regional economy. It would infuse it with millions of dollars and create hundreds of jobs.
The Wright State Research Institute was created to be a front door to the university and work with local businesses, industries, academic institutions statewide, nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the NASA Glenn Research Center. The institute has since grown into a $33 million operation.
Regional summits were created to connect the university with business leaders, educators and elected officials to find out how Wright State could better serve their needs. Summit topics over the years included job-creation efforts surrounding military agencies and tips for businesses to make more effective use of technology.
Wright State’s culture of innovation was reflected by the state declaring seven Centers of Excellence at the university in neuroscience, human-factors performance, medical readiness, knowledge-enabled computing, the arts and other areas.
Wright State would also become more deeply engaged with the communities it serves.
The Dayton Regional STEM School was founded to offer high school students a relevant, real-world education that prepares them for college and the working world. The school opened in 2009 and in June 2013 graduated its first class — 52 talented seniors bound for the likes of Wright State, Emory, Purdue, Texas A&M, Ohio State, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and other schools.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching selected Wright State to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification, putting the university among just 83 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the classification for the first time. And for eight consecutive years, Wright State has been named with distinction to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, a national measuring stick of volunteering, community service, service-learning and civic engagement.
Wright State was recognized as a welcoming campus for veterans and military personnel. In 2014, Wright State opened the Veteran and Military Center, a 4,500-square-foot area designed to provide a welcoming space and support services on campus for veteran and military students. The university created a special $100,000 scholarship fund designed to help members of the Ohio National Guard attend graduate school in what is believed to be the first program of its kind in the state.
By 2015, enrollment had reached a record 18,000 students, who were watching a building boom reshape the face of the campus.
Additions included a Neuroscience Engineering Collaboration Building. The building was the first of its kind to be intentionally designed to drive research interaction across disciplines, bringing 30 researchers from seven disciplines under one roof to understand brain, spinal cord and nerve disorders and develop treatments and devices.
The Student Success Center featured a 220-seat lecture hall and large active-learning classrooms loaded with screens, laptops and other cutting-edge technology. The Creative Arts Building was expanded and modernized, and the ribbon cut by the actor himself on the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures.
What you have at Wright State is a “life-altering force for good,” Hanks said.
On July 1, Cheryl B. Schrader took the helm as Wright State’s seventh and first female president.
“This is the right time to be at Wright State,” said Schrader. “That is because it is an institution that has built up incredible momentum in the past decade and is just poised to move to that next level.”
Story courtesy of Wright State University.