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2017 Washburn Alumni Awards


Distinguished Service Award

This award recognizes alumni who have made personal and professional contributions to society, demonstrated exemplary support to the Washburn University Alumni Association and the community, been of service to humanity, distinguished themselves in their careers and brought honor to Washburn through their accomplishments.

Jeanne Hoferer, bba '80, h '15

Jeanne HofererJeanne Hoferer retired in 2008 as director of government relations for the Federation of State Medical Boards. Prior to that, she had an eight-year career at Washburn University, directing University Relations and the Alumni Association and serving as assistant to the president. She also served in the Kansas Senate from 1984-89 and was regional representative for Senator Nancy Kassebaum from 1980-84. Hoferer is a Washburn University Foundation Trustee and was chair of the Board of Trustees from 2012-14. She and her husband, Paul, are lead volunteers for the Washburn Law School capital (building) campaign. She is a board member of the Kansas Foundation for Excellence in Education.

On Washburn: Washburn has been an important part of my life since Paul and I moved to Topeka in 1972. In addition to receiving an outstanding education, I have represented Washburn in many ways in my career. Those experiences helped me grow as a person and made my life much more satisfying. We are so very proud to be part of the Washburn family.

Richard Ross, ba '71, jd '75

Richard RossRichard Ross retired in 2016 as reporter of decisions for the Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, a position he held since 1977. In his career, 132 volumes of official court decisions bear his name as reporter. He was a charter member and president of the international Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions and was editor and co-author of “Judicial Opinion Writing Manual” for the American Bar Association. Ross earned the Ruth Garvey Fink Award from the Washburn Alumni Association in 2007. He serves as a trustee and director for the Washburn University Foundation and was president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Mulvane Art Museum Board of Directors. He created and chaired the Mulvane Art Fair in 1993 and served on the steering committee for 23 years.

On Washburn: The education I received at Washburn University and Washburn School of Law are directly responsible for my 40-year career at the Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Perhaps the biggest contribution to my life’s fulfillment was the opportunity Washburn afforded me to study abroad. That experience led to exploring more than 30 European countries, including a 10-week backpacking trip with fraternity brother Paul Stuewe. It opened my eyes to the world, and I’ve never stopped exploring it.


Lilla Day Monroe Award

This award honors women who have distinguished themselves as teachers, instructors, administrators or benefactors at Washburn and also have given service to the community and/or their chosen professions. The award is named after suffragist, lawyer and publisher Lilla Day Monroe.

Belinda McPherson

Belinda McPhersonBelinda McPherson was instrumental in the development of physical education and athletic programs for women at Washburn during the early implementation of Title IX, guaranteeing equal access to such programs for women. She coached the women’s basketball team from 1970-75 and taught dance classes. McPherson has volunteered as a choreographer and director for Washburn modern dance concerts and a choreographer for Washburn musicals. She has coordinated dance projects for Dance Arts of Topeka and still serves on the Topeka Community Foundation’s community investment committee. She has volunteered with USD 437 on committees and as a dance teacher.

On Washburn: I remember the challenges of the early programs for women’s athletics at Washburn. In the first years, the basketball program included walk-ons and volunteer recruits to help with practice drills and scrimmages. We shared the “Tin Gym,” one full court, with the gymnastics team. I might have been asked to run down and help with choreography for floor or beam while practices were going on, but we all learned to wear many hats and coach several sports in those early years.


Col. John Ritchie Award

This award honors men who have distinguished themselves as teachers, instructors, administrators or benefactors at Washburn and also have given service to the community and/or their chosen professions. The award is named after Col. John Ritchie, who donated the land on which Washburn is built.

Richard Shermoen

Richard ShermoenRichard Shermoen came to Washburn in 1967 and served as chair and professor of the mathematics, statistics and computer information sciences department for 26 years, retiring in 1993. During that time, he served as chair of the Kansas section of the Mathematics Association of America. He also taught at North Dakota State University and the University of New Mexico and was director of the National Science Foundation Summer Institutes for Mathematics Teachers. Shermoen has been a volunteer tax preparer for the past 23 years for the American Association of Retired Persons and has served on the board of directors for Doorstep. He is a member of the Mathematics honorary society, Kappa Mu Epsilon, and the honorary scholastic society, Phi Kappa Phi. He helped initiate the Annual Math Day for area high school students.

On Washburn: One of the best things I experienced at Washburn was the comradery of the department chairs. Working toward having better graduates with chairs like Floyd Hedberg, Helen Hocker and many others was a rewarding experience.


Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award

This award honors recent Washburn graduates who demonstrate leadership in career or civic endeavors and loyalty to Washburn. Recipients of the award must have graduated within the past 10 years.

Angel Romero, Jr., ba '10, jd '13

Angel RomeroAngel Romero is senior director of resource development at United Way of Greater Topeka where he coordinates workplace fundraising throughout the area. Prior to that, he was a project specialist for the Kansas Board of Regents. Romero serves as a board member for Topeka Civic Theatre and Capital Area Crime Stoppers. He’s the inspire committee chair of Forge Young Professionals, a member of the Washburn Alumni Association Young Alumni Council and a volunteer with the Washburn Leadership Institute. He’s a member of the Kansas Bar Association.

On Washburn: What really made my Washburn experience was the people I met and the friendships I formed. I have so many fond memories, from living in the residence halls on campus, to traveling for alternative winter and spring breaks to chasing presidential candidates around the state of Iowa in 2008 (for a class assignment). Washburn really allowed you to "choose your own adventure," so I was able to take on many different things and meet awesome people along the way who are still great friends to this day.

Lora Westling, bba '05, mba '07

Lora WestlingLora Westling is in her first season as head women’s basketball coach of NCAA Division II Western State Colorado University. Since finishing her all-conference basketball career at Washburn in 2005, she has coached at Washburn, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Truman State (Missouri) and Illinois College before going to Western State. She has coached numerous all-conference selections, had many student-athletes excel in the classroom and has helped with fundraising for her programs. She started a free youth clinic in her current position and has been a volunteer for Special Olympics and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She has raised more than $12,000 for the Kay Vow Cancer Fund during her coaching career.

On Washburn: I remember the incredible people I watched transform a great university into one of the premier institutions in the region. From President Jerry and Susan Farley, to Loren Ferre, Coach Mac and our awesome athletic training staff, to my incredible advisor Stacy Woltje, professors like Gary Baker, Jennifer Ball, Rosemary Walker, and Michael Stoica (to name a few), to the incredible facilities staff that greeted students with a smile. They all exuded a contagious passion for what they did, were willing to serve students in a considerate way and worked to make Washburn a place students could be proud of.


Honorary Ichabod Award

This award is given to individuals who are not graduates of Washburn University, but whom we recognize for their steadfast support of Washburn by way of their time, talent or treasure.

Carl Nuzman

Carl NuzmanCarl Nuzman retired from a career in hydrology engineering with Layne Christensen Company, ultimately serving as chief hydrologist/engineer. He conducted water well pumping tests, aquifer modeling projects, well field designs and construction throughout the world. He invented or co-invented numerous products including a pump intake strainer used on emergency core cooling systems in nuclear power plants. Prior to that career, he served with the Air Force. Nuzman has published works in hydrology engineering and is a life member of the American Society of Biological and Agricultural Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He became involved in Washburn through his late wife, Jan Nuzman, a pioneer in women’s athletics and physical education at Washburn, and he honored her with an athletics scholarship in her name.

On Washburn: My favorite memory of Washburn begins with all the women's PE equipment in my basement salvaged from Thomas Gym after the 1966 tornado, to helping Helen Hocker and the PE department plan the layout of Petro Allied Health Center, to Washburn University taking over Kaw Tech since I am a graduate of the former Topeka trade school. Washburn enriched me through the employment of my late wife, Jan, and through the varied cultural and athletic activities I enjoy.

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Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483