K-State Polytechnic CEO says name change will generate more prestige

Jonathan Berroa, a senior in professional piloting, washes a plane at K-State Salina on Sept. 19, 2013. Washing the planes not only makes them look nice, but it also keeps the leading edge clean, which makes for a smoother flight. (File Photo by Emily DeShazer | The Collegian)

K-State Salina’s name officially changed to K-State Polytechnic Campus after it was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents on Oct. 14.

In order to achieve the university’s goals set for 2025, a decision was made to rename the campus in a way that will help create more prestige, according to Verna Fitzsimmons, CEO of K-State Polytechnic and the dean of the College of Technology and Aviation.

There are three aspects of a polytechnic model: learning theory through application, connecting active-classroom learning with the outside world through integrated studies and focusing on professional programs. These three aspects prepare students for careers. Each are incorporated into the campus, which was a reason for the proposed name change.

“We’re looking at polytechnic to describe how and what we teach on this campus, not where we are,” Fitzsimmons said.

According to Fitzsimmons, eliminating “Salina” from its campus name will help staff at conferences generate more prestige of the education than just a location. She said it’s also an advantage for potential students to see what the college consists of.

“When recruiting students, as well as faculty and staff, we want to focus on who we are and the great experiences people will have on our campus,” Fitzsimmons said.

While Fitzsimmons said the name change will help students, some are still on the fence about the changing of the name.

“Although a lot of work was put into hearing our opinions,” Koltin Howard-Talbott, senior in airport management, said. “A lot of students are concerned about people focusing on the technic part of the name and assuming we are a technic college.”

Elias Peterson, senior in aeronautical technology and flight instructor, said his program follows the polytechnic model in providing connections that help students gain experience in the professional world.

“I can’t remember one aviation class where we didn’t have at least one professional visit us during the semester,” Peterson said. “In Intro to Aviation, a control tower operator visited us and gave us perspective into how they manage aircraft in their airspace. All of these interactions help student pilots get a sense of ‘the big picture,’ which ultimately makes us better pilots.”

The flight students are also presented with internships to experience their field of work.

“Our students are well prepared to start their professional careers upon graduation,” Fitzsimmons said.

Fitzsimmons said she believes this name change will produce various benefits for the college.

“We will always be K-State University,” Fitzsimmons said. “Of course, we are located in Salina and always will be.”