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End of an Era

Bayens plans retirement after rewarding 25-year career at Washburn

Gary Bayens posing in a hallway at Washburn Tech

(Gary Bayens, ba '90. Photo by Jeremy Wangler)

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
By Annie Flachsbarth

Although Gary Bayens, ba ’90, has had a multitude of exciting jobs over his career, it’s his first eight years as a Washburn University faculty member he said were the best.

“The fact that I’ve had a hand in the success of some of the students in the criminal justice department and they’ve gone on to do great things – it’s one of the things I’m most proud of,” Bayens said. “That’s why I left being a practitioner and came to teaching – to contribute.”

Bayens recently announced his retirement at the end of 2021 after 25 years at the University. He has served Washburn in several capacities, most recently as dean of Washburn University Institute of Technology. He has also been associate dean of the School of Applied Studies and chair of the criminal justice and legal studies department.

“I enjoyed engaging with students and mentoring them to help them network and be successful in their careers. And it was particularly rewarding to help those who went down the same path as I did in law enforcement,” Bayens said. “It’s great when you see hard work pays off.”

“Dr. Bayens is well respected by faculty and staff,” JuliAnn Mazachek, vice president for academic affairs, said when he announced his retirement. “His leadership and dedication to Washburn University, its faculty, staff and students is evident in the accomplishments of the departments, programs and people he has mentored through the years.”

A Career Built in Service

After graduating high school in Valley Station, Kentucky, in 1973, Bayens passed up college baseball scholarships to enlist and serve in the U.S. Marine Corps as a military police officer.

“I had several close cousins serving in Vietnam, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps,” Bayens said. “My time in the service established where I was going with my career – there was no better training than trying to police a bunch of Marines.”

After leaving the Marines, he came to Kansas for a job as a special agent with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. He graduated from Washburn in 1990 with a degree in criminal justice and a minor in psychology and then worked in the criminal justice field for 22 years – first as a practitioner in law enforcement for seven years and then in corrections for 15 years. Prior to joining the Washburn faculty in 1996, he served as the director of juvenile corrections and intensive supervised probation for Shawnee County.

Guiding the Next Generation

When Bayens was offered the opportunity to teach at Washburn, he thought a lot about the future. He went back to school, got a doctorate, took a full-time position at Washburn and got to work. Through the years he’s helped a lot of students in the criminal justice field – and he attributes their success to Washburn’s partnerships and lots of hands-on work.

“Once you’ve got the book learning down, you have to go out and apply it. This is the case for criminal justice as well as many other programs in applied studies,” he said.

In fact, while it wouldn’t appear so on the surface, there are a lot of similarities to technical education and the fields in the School of Applied Studies – making the role of dean of Washburn Tech a good fit for Bayens.

“Many fields in both areas require advanced, hands-on training and certifications to get jobs, like social work or welding.” he said.

Former student, Captain Jana Harden, bs ’98, ma ’20, of the Topeka Police Department also appreciated his guidance in the field – having worked with him on a special assignment during the downtown Topeka revitalization project.

“He had so much on his plate, but he never seemed overwhelmed. He always gives time to every person as though you’re the only person and project that matters,” Harden said. “I don’t know how a person like that ever truly retires.”

Award-winning Career Leading to Retirement

During his career, Bayens authored nearly 30 books, journal articles and government reports. He also received multiple awards including the A. Roy Myers Excellence in Research Award, the Kansas Correctional Association Leadership Award and the Kansas Association of Law Enforcement Planners Award. In 1993, he was honored as a Washburn University Alumni Fellow.

Even with all those accomplishments, Bayens won’t be resting on his laurels in retirement. Instead, he’s taking on a full-time role as grandfather. He and his wife, Joan Bayens, bs ’80, recently moved to Lawrence, Kansas, to be closer to the grandchildren. The couple also has four adult children.

“We have a very close family, so I’m excited to have more family time in particular. Joan retired several years ago to help with the grandkids, and I’m looking forward to being able to give her a hand,” Bayens said.

And even though he’ll technically be retired, he’ll continue to teach for the criminal justice department.

“They asked me to stay on board and teach a class each semester,” he said. “I enjoy teaching immensely, and I will continue to do that for as long as I’m able to contribute.”

Spring 2022 The Ichabod cover. Sculpture on the lawn north of Memorial Union

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