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Our Stories

Alumni, donors, students, faculty and staff

Read and hear from Ichabods who are making a difference at Washburn and in their communities. Many of these articles appear in our publications like The Ichabod, Bell Tower and Washburn Lawyer.

Memorial UnionDavidson Memorial Scholarship: Washburn Recieves Largest Scholarship Gift Ever

April 16, 2024
Washburn leadership announced a $5 million gift to establish the Thelma Ann Davidson Memorial Scholarship for Washburn. The gift, from Dick and Trish Davidson, will provide financial support for high-performing students with financial need. The endowed scholarship is the largest in Washburn’s history and is named in honor of his mother.

An eagle sculpture in front of the School of Law buildingCommemorating a Legacy: Years of service honored in naming of new law building

From Washburn Lawyer - Winter 2024
One of the School of Law’s most distinguished alumni is now immortalized in the newest building on campus. Robert J. Dole Hall is equipped with the latest advances in technology and accessibility. The stately building is also a beacon to the legal profession, boosting Washburn’s national profile and serving as a fitting tribute to Dole’s service.

Students walking across the Washburn campusA Big Boost: Campus-wide efforts lead to enrollment increases and record freshman class

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
Thanks to the largest incoming freshman class ever – 942 Ichabods – Washburn University reported its first enrollment growth in a decade this fall. “Affordability and academic excellence are always a winning combination,” said Alan Bearman, vice president for strategic enrollment management and student success and dean of libraries. 

Middle view of courtroomDouble the Courtrooms: State-of-the-art courtrooms provide educational opportunities, unique space

From Washburn Lawyer - Winter 2024
When students enter the two new courtrooms at the School of Law, they are often awestruck. With sleek wood paneling, pendant lights and the latest technological equipment, the recently dedicated Heath Family Appellate Courtroom and Michael C. Manning Trial Courtroom were used for the first time this fall. 

Nursing student in the simulation labGenerations of Care: School of Nursing celebrates 50th anniversary in 2024

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
Just like the nursing profession itself, the Washburn University School of Nursing has experienced dramatic changes to help the institution better serve the needs of students and patients. The school celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024, and since the bachelor of science in nursing program began in 1974, it has seen significant growth.

Cody Foster and David Callanan standing outside on the Washburn campus in front of HendersonAnticipating the Future: David Callanan and Cody Foster are betting on Washburn

From Bell Tower - 2023
David Callanan and Cody Foster are betting on Washburn. So this April, the pair decided to make a combined lead gift to the Henderson renovation project – their biggest philanthropic commitment to Washburn yet. Combined with other generous early donations, their investment took the project past $10 million of the $15 million goal.

Portions of two mural panelsBrown v Board: Local artist creates mural to commemorate the landmark Brown v. Board case

From Washburn Lawyer - Winter 2024
When Robert J. Dole Hall was opened, the prominent mural representing the history of the School of Law and its relationship to Brown v. Board was also unveiled. The mural was completed by Kansas City-based artist Michael Toombs. Its title, “Non Nobis Solum,” represents Washburn’s motto of not for ourselves alone. 

The soccer team holds up a trophy during a celebrationDream Season: Soccer finishes as NCAA runner-up, claiming conference and regional titles along the way

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
The Washburn soccer team had already set school records for win totals and highest national ranking before making it to the NCAA tournament this season as the top seed in the Central Region. When it all wrapped up on Dec. 9, the Ichabods finished second in the nation, falling just short of a national championship.

A student presents at the front of a classLinking Leaders: Merging popular programs ignites new era of leadership, community engagement

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
George Burdick knew he wanted to embrace leadership head-on. So, he did what any emerging leader would do: He got involved with two of the most leadership-oriented groups on campus – the Leadership Institute and Learning in the Community. Thanks to a planned merger of those two organizaions, students will have increased access to their resources.

Susan and Jerry Farley standing and being honored outside Morgan HallIchabods in All We Do: Jerry and Susan Farley expand legacy with generous gift

From Bell Tower - 2023
In a world where education is often seen as a privilege, Jerry and Susan Farley believe it should be a right. With a dedication to empowering students and ensuring access to quality education, the Farleys have already made a profound impact in their 25 years. Last year, they announced that they are donating more than $2 million to student scholarships.

Student sitting at a table studyingA Modernized Library: New law library brings cutting-edge services to students

From Washburn Lawyer - Winter 2024
The new Hon. Joseph C. Morris Library Suite, featuring a reading room named in honor of the late Hon. Delmas Hill, symbolizes a new chapter in the school’s history and recognizes the importance meeting the changing needs of students and faculty. The library was designed to foster collaboration, individual research and multi-disciplinary learning.

Jeff Kready and Nikki Daniels pose at a pianoCan You Hear Me Now?: Jeff Kready and Nikki Renée Daniels support vocal performance in Topeka

From Bell Tower - 2023
If there’s one person who can speak to vocal performance in Topeka, it is Jeff Kready, b music '04. The Broadway star has probably played every stage within a hundred miles of the capital city. He first performed at White Concert Hall when he was 6 years old and returned to it years later as a Washburn student for his senior recital.

Von Hansen at a steel drumA Masterful Rhythm: Assistant professor hits the right beat with next generation of music students

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
Von Hansen has composed a symphonic career of success. As a Washburn percussion student, he laid the foundation for his future career. Now, as an assistant professor of percussion and a composer, he credits Washburn for helping him shape the future of music – by nurturing budding talents in an institution that once encouraged him.

Daija Coleman shows off her first runner-up certificate from the Mrs. Wheelchair America competitionShining Example: Ms. Wheelchair Kansas showing capabilities of all in her classroom

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
When Daija Coleman was a kid, she didn’t have any role models who looked like her. Born with cerebral palsy, Coleman has always relied on an electric wheelchair to get around. In high school, she learned about the history of the disability community and the importance of advocacy – and that’s when she decided to become the role model she longed to see.

Two students standing outside on the Washburn campusBig Support: Finnup scholarships enhance opportunities for southwest Kansas students

From Bell Tower - 2023
In 1879, German furniture manufacturer Frederick Finnup fell in love with the vast prairie of southwest Kansas. Nearly a hundred years later, his descendants established the Finnup Foundation Family Trust with a priority to help southwest Kansas students earn college degrees. This has included, for the past 30 years, a scholarship program at Washburn.

Chris Thoreson programs a computer on a mill that makes rubber mixing equipment. Building Careers: Registered apprenticeship program underway at Washburn Tech

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
Chris Thoreson was looking for a new career that would provide excitement, solid pay and chances for growth. After hearing about the new registered apprenticeship program at Washburn Tech, he knew he found a fitting opportunity. Thoreson started his apprenticeship this fall at HF Mixing Group and in the machine/tool technology program at Washburn Tech.

Teacher at the front of a classroom speaking with a studentSchool of Law: A day in the life of the dean

From Washburn Lawyer - Winter 2024
Over the summer, the School of Law said goodbye to the longest serving faculty member in its storied history. James Concannon’s legacy will live on through his work, his mentorship, the endowed deanship in his honor at the law school and the James Concannon Dean’s Suite in the new building. The suite was made possible by an anonymous donor in honor of Concannon. Below is a preview of some of the work taking place in the dean’s suite.

Attendees reading names on a memorial stoneDisplay of Gratitude: New veterans memorial at Washburn a chance to contemplate, commemorate

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
From the beginning, Washburn had a student veteran. When the school was founded in 1865 as Lincoln College, one early scholar had fought for the Union during the Civil War. To honor the individuals who dedicated their time – and sometimes their lives – to military service, Washburn dedicated its new veterans memorial this fall.

A couple posedMaking a Difference: The Woolerys are helping students who want to help others

From Bell Tower - 2023
Paige Woolery, bs ’07, always wanted to make a broader impact beyond her hometown. While studying at Washburn, she visited New York City for the first time and got to know a whole new way of life. She was there to volunteer at a homeless shelter as part of Washburn’s Alternative Breaks Program, and she calls the experience “eye-opening.” 

Melinda Kline posing outside Benton HallAdopting Hope: Social work alumna leads national adoption program

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
As national project director for AdoptUSKids, Melinda Kline has witnessed the importance and impact adoption can have on families. Although many people have connections to adoption and foster care, for Kline, the connection is deeply personal. 

Tim Hammes and Santiago Rendon pose with their trophies after winning the national championshipWinning it All: Men’s tennis doubles team earns ITA Cup national championship this fall

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
They may have been 800 miles away from Topeka, but Tim Hammes and Santiago Rendon felt at home as they defeated two teams from their region to win the ITA Cup national championship this fall. They were the men’s tennis doubles champions in the Division II tournament played in Mount Berry, Georgia, in October.

Two individuals pose in front of a golf coursePar for the Course: Michael and Debbie Onushco take a big swing at scholarships for Washburn students

From Bell Tower - 2023
“The scholarship and support Coach (Glen) Cafer gave me changed my life. Now that I’m in a position to do so, I want to change someone else’s life in that same way," said Michael Onushco, former Washburn golfer. He and his wife, Debbie, worked with their attorney on their estate plans to create a multi-million-dollar gift to fund scholarships.

Two students at a table working on laptopsSchool of Law: Advancing the Law Clinic

From Washburn Lawyer - Winter 2024
For more than 53 years, the Washburn Law Clinic has helped underserved members of the Topeka community gain legal representation while preparing students to become practicing lawyers. Now, thanks to the new law clinic space in Robert J. Dole Hall, the clinic will be able to expand its footprint to better serve its clients and School of Law students, all made possible by alumni and friends like the Spigarelli family.

Kent McAnally posingCareer-Ready: McAnally reflects on 17 years of helping Ichabods break into chosen fields

From The Ichabod - Winter 2024
As director of Washburn Career Services the last 17 years, Kent McAnally told people the keys to the job they want are networking and getting experience in the field while a student. He also recommended mock interviews through his office. Retiring in January, McAnally reflected on serving Washburn students and alumni since 2006. 

Lance Sparks poses with his daughterTeamwork Wins: Lance Sparks pays it forward with major athletic department contributions

From Bell Tower - 2023
"Basketball was my ticket to an education. I didn't think I would end up at Washburn, but it was the best place to play." Following in the footsteps of his dad and three older sisters, Lance Sparks, bs '93, received a full-ride basketball scholarship to attend Washburn University. But his basketball career was just the beginning of his success.

A student and library worker huggingThrive at Washburn: New scholarships create long-term investment in Shawnee County students

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Although recent Highland Park High School graduate Jackie Perez applied to other Kansas schools outside of Topeka, when she learned she qualified to receive Washburn University’s new Shawnee County Promise scholarship – which will pay her tuition for all four years of her Washburn education – the decision of where to attend was an easy one.

Dignitaries cut the ribbon on the new school of law buildingAn Ideal Opening: Ribbon cut on School of Law building this summer, welcoming first students

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
The students, faculty, staff and alumni of Washburn University School of Law saw their dream of a new home become a reality. Robert J. Dole Hall was dedicated on July 21, 2023, after much anticipation and an extensive fundraising campaign that brought together more than 1,000 alumni and donors who contributed more than $14 million for the project.

Brian Thomas posing in the server roomTo the Stars: From NASA-funded research to mentoring students, Brian Thomas uncovering the cosmos

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Imagine a massive star exploding in the depths of space. The resulting supernova would be brilliant and catastrophically violent, reaching planets hundreds of light years away – yes, planets like Earth. For Brian Thomas, physics and astronomy professor, taking a closer look at these kinds of existential threats is all in a day’s work.

Two soldiers posing in front of missileVital Role: Maj. Jim Webber’s career in military service reached impressive heights

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
On the heels of the space race, Maj. Jim Webber's story seems plucked from a Cold War novel. It is a tale of humble beginnings, coupled with grit, determination and a dedication propelling him to unimaginable heights. At the height of the Cold War, he served with with 200 nuclear missiles under his charge, ready to launch if the order came through.

Beryl New posing outdoorsHer Life’s Calling: Beryl New closes the book on 35 years of serving students

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Over the summer, Beryl New retired from Topeka Public Schools, bringing her 35-year career in education as a teacher, counselor, principal and administrator to a close. In every role, she was guided by the same objective. “I enjoy helping people recognize their potential and develop it,” said New, ba ’88, m ed ’02.

Freddy Mawyin posing in from of Topeka city hallMore than Education: A series of calculated risks has led to career success for Freddy Mawyin

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
When you think of an idyllic American story, you may imagine a tale like that of Freddy Mawyin, mba ’17. Born in the U.S. by accident, Mawyin grew up in Ecuador before coming back to the States. His story is not only a testament to the American dream, but also to the possibilities for those who arrive in Topeka for an opportunity and stay for the community.

Tiffany Mack reading a bookStudying the Greats: New certificate program exposes students of all majors to value of literature, art

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
The opportunity to study great literature and works of art has always existed at Washburn. But until now, if a student wasn’t majoring in humanities, their exposure to these works was usually limited to the electives they took. A new certificate program, called Great TEXTS (Transformative, EXperiential and Team-Taught Studies), is making that easier. 

Gabriel Chinya runningQuick Work: Leaders from men’s cross country team looking for more success after breakout season

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Cross country can be a grueling sport. Athletes must run long distances in all types of weather, from late-summer heat to chilly November rains. They have to push themselves through discomfort and find the determination to be their best, not only for themselves but for their teammates. It’s not easy – which is exactly why sophomore Tommy Roehl loves it.

Students posing in front of a university signSpeak the Language: Study of modern languages opens many doors for students

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
The first time Tirzah Riddle, ba ’15, went to Paraguay, she had a transformative experience. She had never taken public transportation or been away from her mom for more than two weeks. But soon she was living and studying in a region where almost no one spoke English. As an aspiring interpreter and translator, that’s exactly what she was hoping for.

Paige Robbins posing on the softball field wearing nursing scrubsTeam Player: Sibberson Award winner brings team spirit and work ethic to nursing career

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Paige Robbins, bsn, ’23, believes in the power of teamwork, dedicating her energy to helping others and working to get the job done. She brings these three qualities to all she does, and that approach has brought her success, winning the 2023 Sibberson Award for the School of Nursing because of her academics and other work.

Lauren Frost posing in front of Yager StadiumKeeping Order: Lauren Frost following her heart and the rules as athletics compliance director

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
Somewhere within the struggles and triumphs of athletics and the rigor of completing a college degree lie the rules and regulations governing what it is to be a student-athlete. Lauren Frost, jd ’17, studies those rules as associate athletic director for compliance and senior woman administrator. Her job is a perfect combination of things she loves.



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Winter 2024 The Ichabod magazine cover with picture of the bell tower and snow fallen on campus

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Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483