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Our Stories

Alumni, donors, students, faculty and staff

Read the latest feature stories from people who are making a difference for Washburn. Many of these articles appear in our publications like The Ichabod and Bell Tower.

Jerry Farley delivering a speechEnding an Era: With April announcement, Farley begins transition into retirement

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
Jerry Farley announced that he will be retiring as president of Washburn University on Sept. 30, 2022, after serving in the job for more than 25 years. “It has been my great honor to serve Washburn as president,” Farley said. “Susan has served right alongside me and we have been blessed with great colleagues and a highly supportive community.”

International Programs participants holding a globeAbroad Approach: International travel programs resuming flight   

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
Studying abroad is an essential experience for students in several majors, but during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the thought of international travel felt like a foreign concept. As restrictions eased in recent months, more students have expressed interest in traveling. Eighty-five already signed up to study outside the U.S. in summer and fall 2022.

Susie Hoffmann poses with Bob DoleMemories of Dole: Washburn alumni share recollections of the iconic senator 

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
Washburn alumni whose careers and lives were influenced by Sen. Bob Dole shared their stories. He passed away in 2021 at the age of 98, but his legacy lives on in the memories of those who knew him and seek to emulate his trademark graciousness, humor and humility.

Ron McHenry coachingOff the Bench: Ron McHenry, ba '85, Washburn’s winningest coach, retiring after 22 years

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
Ron McHenry has been a mainstay in the athletic department for most of the past 40 years, first as a basketball player, then as men’s golf head coach, men’s basketball assistant coach and for the past two-plus decades, the leader of a winning women’s basketball program. Now, he’s moving into an unfamiliar role with the Ichabods: a fan.

Jeannette Wood, her son and her teacher, Shirley Waugh pose at a playgroundHonored to Teach: Shirley Waugh, msn '09, guided and mentored many through nursing honors program

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
Entering college later in your life can be a daunting experience. Having mentors along the way can make a big difference. Shirley Waugh has been providing mentorship to students as an associate professor in the School of Nursing and director of the nursing honors program. Retiring this May, Waugh taught at Washburn for 13 years. 

Sheronika Simeon posing on campusA Whole New World: Miss Teen Bahamas International pursues joy and passion at Washburn

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
For winning Miss Teen Bahamas International, Sheronika Simeon was awarded a college scholarship. After looking at many options, Simeon chose to attend Washburn and major in kinesiology with plans to become a physical therapist. “Helping someone heal and preventing them from having to have surgery – that would bring me so much joy," she said.

Men's basketball team and team impact player posing in the locker roomHope and Belonging: Basketball teams connect with children facing serious and chronic illnesses

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
For a child with genetic disorders and complications at birth that gave him a stroke in utero, Cash is the real winner. He was connected with the Washburn men’s basketball team four years ago through Team IMPACT, and Cash, his family and the team have all benefited from the experience. The women's basketball team adopted Mallorie with similar results.

Kaydee Emperley advising Yler Clark-ChiapparelliAdvising Matters: Students find success with academic advising 

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
When Tyler Clark-Chiapparelli started college, he thought he could figure everything out on his own and didn’t need to ask for help. Turns out, he needed all the help he could get. Washburn’s Center for Student Success and Retention has been critical to helping him hit required academic benchmarks as well as achieve overall college success.

Juli Mazacheck posing on campusA True Honor: Mazachek, longtime leader at Washburn, named president at Texas university

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
In March, JuliAnn Mazachek was named president of Midwestern State University. “I have enjoyed working with students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and the community, to make a difference for the future," she said of her 30 years at Washburn. "It's been a true honor."

Melissa Tovar posing on campusCreating the Change: Melissa Tovar, bcj '20, begins her pursuit of justice for refugees

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
When Melissa Tovar started at Washburn, she was ready to create the change she wanted to see in her community. She now works at the Office of Refugee Resettlement at The Villages in Topeka, helping family members of children separated at the border. She plans to attend Washburn Law and work in immigration law for refugees.

Chelsea Armstrong posing on campusNew Perspectives: African American and African diaspora studies minor now available

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
The African American and African diaspora studies minor has its first graduate this spring. This minor is significant to senior Chelsea Armstrong as a mixed-race person. “Seeing how each (parent) was treated by society, and then also how people reacted to them being a couple and toward myself and my two siblings – it is an important part of who I am.”

The three 2022 data analytics majors posing on campusData is the Future: Three Ichabods become first graduates of data analytics program 

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
With a new data analytics program, the School of Business is looking toward the future. This forward-thinking curriculum not only benefits businesses, but also helps graduates get hired. When Cate Moody interviewed for an internship, she mentioned she was considering majoring in data analytics, and the company said they would have a permanent job for her.

James and Mary Baker wedding photoHelping Hand: Baker makes historic gift to Ichabods Moving Forward

From The Ichabod - Spring 2022
Long after the kids were grown and the Bakers no longer needed the income from his retirement accounts, Jim and Mary started talking about ways they could give back. Jim could still remember being a struggling Washburn student and the help he recieved, so he decided to create a fund which will assist Ichabods Moving Forward.

Sen. Bob Dole bronze statue on campusSoldier, Statesman: With humble beginnings in Kansas and at Washburn, Sen. Bob Dole lived life of service 

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
Washburn University joined Kansas and the United States in mourning the loss of one of its most decorated and celebrated alumni, Sen. Bob Dole, who died Dec. 5, 2021, after being diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2021. He was 98. “Sen. Dole made America a better place for all Americans,” said Washburn University President Jerry Farley.

Bob Dole and the Farleys at Homecoming paradeWashburn's Own: Respected worldwide, Sen. Bob Dole was an American leader

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
Washburn alumnus and Kansas Sen. Bob Dole often named a fellow Kansan, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, as one of the most effective leaders in American history, saying Eisenhower not only did great things for his state and country, but his leadership touched the world. The same could be said for Dole.

Rick Ellis with Kris Hart and recent graduate Hayley WynneInto the Sunset: Caring and accepting, Rick Ellis always worked to bring out the best in students

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
Rick Ellis projected a rugged cowboy persona. Perhaps comfort in his own skin inspired others to find their true personalities. “Rick saw people for their potential,” Becca Spielman, bas ’05, said. “But also saw them for who they could be." The professor and director of Washburn’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement died on Sept. 22, 2021.

Volleyball trophyDigging Every Minute: Faith Rottinghaus finishes senior year strong as Bods finish second in the nation

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
Faith Rottinghaus came to Washburn University because of its winning culture. She wrapped up her time at Washburn, graduating in December after the volleyball team finished second in the nation and played in the national championship match. She's a two-time Academic All-American, All-American and four-time all-MIAA player.

Gary Bayens posing at Washburn TechEnd of an Era: Gary Bayens, ba '90, plans retirement after rewarding 25-year career at Washburn 

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
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. 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 Tech.

Pamela Hollie posing in front of various flagsA Journalist's Journey: The Washburn Review led to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times for Pamela Hollie, ba '70, h '04

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
In her junior year at Washburn, Pamela Hollie received a letter from The Wall Street Journal offering her an internship, and that was the beginning of a 20-year career in journalism. She returned to Washburn recently to share her story with mass media students. 

Michael Odupitan posing in the new building for Omni CircleCircle of Change: Michael Odupitan, bs '11, encourages development for minorities through his nonprofit

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
When Michael Odupitan moved to Topeka in 2002, he didn’t know how that decision would impact the rest of his life – along with his new community as a whole. In 2019, Odupitan moved back to Topeka and founded Omni Circle Group, a nonprofit dedicated to personal and professional development with an emphasis on minorities.

Fanny Hand with a veteran baseball cap and her Quilt of ValorWarm Hearts: World War II veteran and Washburn alumna Fanny Hand, b ed '68, celebrates 103 years

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
Family members, caregivers and others surrounded Fanny Hand to celebrate her 103rd birthday as she sat outside her home, bundled up with a blanket on a seasonably cool day last fall. The gift she was about to receive would literally and figuratively give her additional warmth.

WUmester logoTelling Your Truth: Fourth-annual WUmester will study truth as the theme

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
There is data. There is information. There are beliefs. There are opinions. Some of them are subjective. Some are not. And then there’s truth. Washburn students, faculty and staff will be studying the theme of truth this spring during the fourth-annual WUmester, a semester-long dive into a topic related to social justice.

Arlene Wahwasuck posing in the Memorial UnionA Nursing Life: Arlene Wahwasuck, bsn '76, finds no such thing as retirement when you have passion for your craft

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
Arlene Wahwasuck always wanted to be a nurse. As the youngest of six children, she often felt left out and looked to her imagination to fulfill her nursing fantasies. Her dreams became a reality, and she’s spent the past 67 years nursing and educating fellow Native Americans.

Track and field athletes posing in the Indoor Athletic FacilityLeap of Faith: Move to Washburn brings high-flying track and field athletes closer to international goals

From The Ichabod - Winter 2022
Proving they were among the country’s best wasn’t enough to satisfy two members of Washburn's track and field team. After earning All-America status at last year’s NCAA Division II outdoor championships, the two student-athletes followed up the 2020-21 collegiate season by returning to their native countries to compete on an international stage.

Martin and students from both Washburn Law and Osaka University, at Osaka University, June 2018. Photo submittedInternational and Comparative Law Center: Connecting students to international law practices

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
When Professor Linda Elrod, ba ’69, jd ’72, traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, as a Washburn undergraduate in 1967, she experienced what she called “an awakening.” During her journey, she came to understand how foreign legal systems could inform her point of view on family law. As a professor, she returned to Denmark more than a decade later.

Jerry Seales, ’88. Photo submitted Singing Judge: Multitalented attorney Jerry Seales lays down the law and the beats in Grenada

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
When Jerry Seales retired as chief magistrate judge in Grenada in 2018, news sites described him as a “thorn in the side of traffic violators” for his “strict sentencing” and “hard adherence to the law.” With a reputation for harsh punishments, the results that come up when you type his name into YouTube may come as a surprise.

John Shoemaker, ’04, and his wife, Kelli, show off their fun lifestyle in Singapore. Photo submittedStaying Active from Afar: John Shoemaker working to connect with, support others who work internationally

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
When the pandemic hit, John Shoemaker, ’04, was looking for a lifeline as he found himself distanced from friends and colleagues. It was during this time he began to reconnect with faculty and fellow alumni while attending online happy hours. The virtual format was essential for Shoemaker, who has lived and practiced law in Singapore since 2015.

The Jessup Team in DenverThe Fraternity of Jessup: Students compete to develop advocacy skills

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
Each year, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition lets law students expand their international law knowledge and develop their advocacy skills by arguing a dispute between fictional countries. Prof. Craig Martin said the Jessup “develops advocacy skills like no other competition can.”

Matti Asino, ’91. Photo submittedReturning Home: Matti Asino went back to Namibia, Africa to put legal training in practice

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
When Matti Asino, ’91, first moved to Omaha, Nebraska, from his home country of Namibia, Africa, in 1981, it was the middle of summer. His family was pleased to find the weather warm and the landscape lush and green, which reminded them of the rainy season back home. A few months later, though, Asino’s first Midwestern winter came as a surprise.

Laura Ice, ’84. Photo submittedTaking Off: Laura Ice helps lead effort to take Wichita-based company global

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
As general counsel at Textron Financial Corporation, Laura Ice, ’84, has traveled all over the world – but she conducts most of her international business from her office in Wichita, Kansas. Her successful career serves as a prime example of how a lawyer’s influence can span the globe while staying anchored in the Midwest.

John WesterhausEducation After Law School: Graduates are inspired to seek further education abroad

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
As many Washburn Law graduates can attest, a successful international career often starts in Kansas. For John Westerhaus, jd ’12, curiosity about the world began long before law school. His inquisitiveness influenced his decision to pursue his LL.M. at University College London in the United Kingdom after graduating from Washburn.

Cas-en-Bas Beach, St. Lucia. Photo submitted Digging in From Afar: Law students take on special project to protect ancient burial site in St. Lucia

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
While many students could have used the COVID-19 pandemic as a time to not take on new endeavors, two law students did just the opposite. Elizabeth “Kinsella” Brunetti, jd ’21, and Deisy “Pam” Saenz, jd ’21, worked on an international law research project to assist with litigation in St. Lucia to protect indigenous rights and preserve indigenous cultural heritage. 

Paul Maricle with an intern from Germany in the Honorary ConsulateGerman Immersion: Studying abroad leads to successful career and honorary consul position

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
Paul Maricle has maintained a passion for Germany, the German language, and German culture since he was a high school foreign exchange student. He wasn’t formally trained in the German language before he went abroad, but was immersed in the language and the culture immediately – an experience that shaped his career today.

Lori Callahan, BBA ’80, JD ’83, and Linda Parks, BA ’79, JD ’83.Life Down Under: Lori Callahan finalizes fulfilling career in Australia

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
Since Lori Callahan, bba ’80, jd ’83, moved to Sydney, Australia, two decades ago, she jokes she became an amateur tour guide for visitors from the Midwest. Originally from Olathe, Kansas, Callahan moved to Australia to pursue a job opportunity, and now her family spans the globe along with her career.

Kurt Kerns, ’91, with his legal assistant and clientA Home in The Hague: Wichita lawyer fulfills goal first established during studies overseas

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
Kurt Kerns, jd '91, is one of just 26 American lawyers authorized to appear before the International War Crime Tribunal at The Hague. Kerns eventually achieved his goal, but the journey to practice overseas was far from direct. He maintains a successful record in murder trials and has been featured as a legal commentator on national TV networks.

Jim Slattery, BS ’10, JD ’74,  Photo by Jeremy WanglerRep. Jim Slattery: Taste of international law in school leads to lifelong career

From Washburn Lawyer - 2021-22
Jim Slattery, bs ’70, jd ’74, is well known as one of the most prominent Kansas politicians of his generation. He ran his first campaign while a first-year law student at Washburn Law. He served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1973-79. He later served in the U.S. Congress from 1983-95 and ran for Kansas governor and the U.S. Senate.

Recital Hall RenderingBuilding for the Future: Anonymous gift will be a catalyst for change on campus

From Bell Tower - 2021
This past July, Washburn announced it had received the single largest gift in the university’s history: an incredible $10.2 million commitment from anonymous donors. The gift, which will go toward several capital projects and scholarships, was appropriately heralded as transformative. 

Members of Ichabods Moving Forward posing on and around the Ichabod statue benchPhilanthropy in the Age of COVID: Nimble, responsive giving becomes a lifesaver in times of uncertainty

From Bell Tower - 2021
Given the outside factors created by COVID-19, it wouldn’t have been a big surprise if the 2021 Day of Giving endured a temporary dip in contributions. Instead, the day was the most visible example yet of a theme that’s been present on campus since the pandemic began: donors offering a helping hand to fellow Ichabods in need.

School of Law eagle statueThinking Ahead: George Barton plans his philanthropic legacy at Washburn

From Bell Tower - 2021
Over the last four decades, George Barton, jd ’77, h ’15, has established himself as a philanthropic leader at Washburn University School of Law. By including the law school in his estate plan, Barton ensures his alma mater will receive ongoing support for years to come. He made Washburn a beneficiary because it has been essential to his success.

Redbud Success Scholars in Mabee LibrarySeeding Success: The Redbud Foundation helps make achieving an education possible

From Bell Tower - 2021
As a first-generation college student, Kevin Alvarez didn’t know what to expect. College seemed out of reach not only because of the expense, but also because his family members lacked the practical experience to provide guidance and direction when it came to academic life. That’s when Washburn's Ichabod Success Institute stepped in. 

Mulvane Art Museum building frontGenerosity on Display: The Mulvane’s growth continues thanks to gifts-in-kind

From Bell Tower - 2021
The Mulvane Art Museum is home to more than 6,000 works of art, but curating pieces requires more thought than simply throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. A growing number of donors have approached the museum in to help expand the collection. These gifts are transformative for a museum that will soon celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Berenice Calva-Morales posing outdoors on campusOpening Doors: A new scholarship helps advance minorities in STEM

From Bell Tower - 2021
Before Berenice Calva-Morales received a scholarship to attend Washburn, going to college was a “maybe." She was interested in higher education, but the financials didn’t quite line up. However, when one of her high school teachers and her advisor recommended that she apply for a new STEM scholarship, everything seemed to fall into place. 

John, ba ’76, and Renee Arnett Staying Involved: Becoming major donors, one gift or trip at a time

From Bell Tower - 2021
When John Arnett, ba ’76, retired, he looked back on his career and looked ahead to his future – and Washburn University was a big part of both. After retiring, he and his wife, Renee, decided it was important to give back to ensure other students are able to find the same kind of success.

More stories

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

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. View the current and past editions


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Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483