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Henderson Facelift

Renovations focus on creating collaborative space


From Bell Tower - Fall 2019

When major renovations began at Washburn University’s Henderson Hall this summer, one fact became quickly apparent: The almost 50-year-old building has good bones.

“It was one of the first buildings built after the tornado occurred in 1966, and you can tell it was made to survive a lot of rough stuff,” said David Sollars, Washburn University School of Business dean. “It looks like a big brick house.”

The rest of the facility, though, was in need of a facelift. When Henderson Hall was completed in 1971, students didn’t have laptops or cell phones, and the academic emphasis on group work and collaboration was not as strong as it is today.

The renovation has focused not only on new study areas that encourage teamwork, but when this phase of construction is complete in December, the first floor of Henderson Hall will have new restrooms as well as a lactation room for nursing.

Steve and Brenda Kitchen have been two of the lead donors to the first phase of the Henderson Hall renovation project. The couple have remained involved with Washburn, though they now live on a ranch in Texas and devote their time to raising beef cattle and cutting horses. Both business school graduates, Steve, bba ’70, H ’05, and Brenda, bba ’95, credit Washburn with helping them achieve success in their careers.

“Washburn opened doors for me that otherwise would not have been opened,” Steve said. “It’s important that we keep up with the competition for strong academically-minded students. Washburn was a great help to us as we went through most of our lives, and we’d like to pass that on to attract students and faculty.”

Sollars said another key feature of the renovation includes an inspirational focal feature in the building’s central corridor: a map of the world denoting where students and faculty are from and showing Washburn’s connections with international institutions. These connections are key elements of the bachelor’s of business administration international business program and the School’s emphasis on the global mindset.

“It will demonstrate that even though we live in the middle of Kansas, there’s this whole world out there and we participate in that,” Sollars said. “That’s something we encourage our students to take every advantage of.”

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