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Through the Years: Jerry and Susan Farley

Jerry Farley delivering a speechHello, Everyone: Farley carried out his grand vision for Washburn over 25 years as president

From a small town in Oklahoma and as the first in his family to graduate from college, Jerry Farley became president of Washburn University in 1997. Twenty-five years later, he built a vibrant student life, a strong residential feel, multiple campuses to meet the needs of the region, solid financial roots and a healthy endowment built by supportive alumni and donors. He is retiring in September 2022 as the longest serving president in Washburn’s 157 years.

“The support of Washburn’s family – students, alumni, faculty, staff, regents and community donors – everyone working together, are what makes this such a special place. It has been an absolute privilege to have served as president for 25 years.” - Jerry Farley


Susan Farley posingPaving Her Own Path: How Susan Farley found her place and made an impact as first lady of Washburn

When Susan Farley’s husband, Jerry Farley, took the role of Washburn president in 1997, it took her a little time to discover her role on campus. “I wanted to grow up and be a math teacher, which I was,” Farley said. “When we moved here, I was a little lost." So, Farley set to work trying to figure out how she could best contribute to the cause. And she’s done just that. For 25 years, she’s not only contributed but she’s also held a crucial role in community relations for the university.

"These relationships have enriched my life, and it is gratifying to think this may have inspired more interest in contributing to Washburn, whether with time, talent, or treasure. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to serve the university in this way.” - Susan Farley


Jerry Farley speaking at a Recycled Rides eventAdmiration and Gratitude: Colleagues and alumni share memories of Farley

Those who have worked with Jerry Farley through the years to help build Washburn's student life and academic reputation, those who have seen him in action recruiting students, those who have seen him make tough decisions and those who have worked beside him in the last 25 years share their memories.

“It was a pleasure to work with President Farley. He was a great mentor, colleague and friend. I will always remember being at Washburn at a time of historic growth and development.” - Denise Ottinger


Jerry Farley speaks in front of the school of law construction siteBuilding Washburn: A quarter century of construction and renovation

Jerry Farley led the construction or acquisition of 15 buildings during his time at Washburn and eight major building renovations. Two projects are in the fundraising and planning stages and he will leave a large mark on them as well - a new recital hall and renovation of the Henderson Learning Resource Center.

“The first thing we decided to do was increase enrollment and change our identity to a residential experience...We just happened to be at the right time and place, and the board of regents and faculty agreed with what we were doing.” - Jerry Farley


Jerry Farley at commencement clappingEnding an Era: With April announcement, Farley begins transition into retirement

Jerry Farley announced on April 18, 2022, that he will be retiring as president of Washburn University on Sept. 30, 2022, after serving in the job for more than 25 years. During his time as the longest-serving president in Washburn University’s 158-year history, Farley had a significant impact on the nature of the campus. In retirement, he will be taking on the role of president emeritus with a focus on fundraising and international student recruitment.

“It has been my great honor to serve Washburn as president. Susan has served right alongside me and we have been blessed with great colleagues and a highly supportive community.” - Jerry Farley


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