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The Farley Years: A video tribute to President Jerry and Susan Farley

(Click above to watch the short version and click here for the full version)

Current and former staff members and alumni who have worked closely with Dr. Farley and consider the Farleys friends shared their memories of Jerry and Susan Farley. They also reflected on some of the contributions to Washburn that Dr. Farley is most proud of - revitalizing campus and student life, bringing on Washburn Tech, enhancing community relations and prioritizing international programming.

"Dr. Farley has made Washburn part of the community. When you think of Topeka you think of Washburn. When you think of Washburn you think of Topeka." - John Pinegar


Hello, Everyone: Farley carried out his grand vision for Washburn over 25 years as president

President Farley giving a speech outside Morgan Hall

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


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

Susan Farley and her dog, Hershey, posing in the presidential residence

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


Washburn President Jerry Farley Farewell Speech at Public Retirement Reception

Washburn President Jerry Farley was honored on Oct. 1, 2022, after his retirement. A governor's proclamation claiming that day to be Dr. Jerry Farley Day was read. There were also honors and recognition from Kansas State Senator Brenda Dietrich on behalf of the Senate, Topeka Mayor Michael Padilla on behalf of the city and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Dr. Farley gave his farewell speech and brought his wife, Susan Farley, up to join him in the final ovation. (Not included from the event are the Gov. Laura Kelly recorded remarks and a tribute video. Those are available on this page.).

"I hope that you feel good about what's happening at Washburn, about the state of the University. Washburn is a good place. It will continue to thrive. Thank you for the opportunity to serve these few years. Thank you for coming out today. We treasure you as friends." - Jerry Farley


A Special Retirement Message to Dr. Farley from Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly thanked retiring Washburn University President Jerry Farley for 25 years of tireless work to improve Washburn and the state of Kansas. She mentioned turning Washburn into a destination university for people all around Kansas and beyond, the physical improvements to Kansas and how so many alumni are leaders in all industries throughout the state.

"His impact on Washburn is clear. No longer is Washburn a quiet commuter campus. It is now a destination for students throughout Kansas and beyond. Every industry in Kansas includes experts and leaders with a Washburn education." Gov. Laura Kelly


A Special Retirement Message to Dr. Farley from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt congratulated Washburn University President Jerry Farley upon his retirement after 25 years. Farley and Schmidt worked together to build the KBI Forensic Science Center on the Washburn campus, and Attorney General Schmidt thanked him for that effort. He also thanked Dr. Farley for his leadership in constructing a new law school building to help train the next generation of lawyers in Kansas.

"I'm especially proud of the work we did together to build the KBI Forensic Science Center on campus, bringing together a much-needed new space for our state's premier crime lab and a new academic program in Kansas to train future scientists. It took a real team effort." - Attorney General Derek Schmidt


Presidential Send Off Outside Morgan Hall

Jerry and Susan Farley during their presidential send-off outside Morgan Hall

Video | Photo Gallery  There were smiles, cheers and a few tears as President Jerry Farley made his final walk from his office, alongside Susan Farley, on the day of his retirement. Their final minutes in the office included family photos, last-minute prep with staff for Saturday's events and a costume change. As they walked out onto Ichabod Plaza, guests, the band, Dancing Blues and cheerleaders greeted them. Dr. Farley then ripped off his bow tie and they both revealed Hawaiian shirts under their top layers and went out in casual style - an ironic twist fitting of Dr. Farley's sense of humor he's kept during his 25 years.


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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