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Purposeful Change

Washburn, Mazachek unveil vision for premier campus learning experience

An arial view of Washburn University

(An arial map of Washburn University's main campus looking southeast)

From The Ichabod - Spring 2023

Washburn University leaders unveiled a seven-year plan at the board of regents meeting in March, and creating the region’s premier student learning environment was the focus of the new campus vision.

When the Washburn University School of Law moves into its new building this summer, many other buildings will see their purpose change as part of this plan.

“Every dollar spent in this plan puts students first,” said JuliAnn Mazachek, president, Washburn. “Washburn and our community can wholeheartedly support and be proud of what this means for best serving our students.”

The current law school building, 1731 Plass Ave., will be renovated to house the Center for Student Success and Retention, Washburn Libraries, Leadership Institute, honors programs and the department of education. Carnegie Hall, the oldest building on campus, will be repurposed once the education department moves.

“Every undergraduate on campus will learn in the facility at 1731 Plass, so this is an important investment,” said Laura Stephenson, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This renovation allows us to transform the current building housing Mabee Library into a modern health care education facility that will bring together our signature nursing and allied health programs, along with Washburn Tech’s health care programs.”

Mazachek said 38% of students are studying a health care-related field at Washburn.

“We'll be able to bring all of our health care programs together to learn in an environment resembling an interprofessional workplace,” Mazachek said.

Significant changes are also planned for Henderson Learning Resources Center, the largest and most utilized classroom building on campus. Henderson is the primary home to the School of Business and many College of Arts and Sciences departments. The $35 million renovation project has a fundraising goal of $15 million. Of that, more than $10 million has been raised thanks to several donations already, including a lead gift in April from Advisors Excel Co-Founders David Callanan, bba ’98, and Cody Foster, ba ’99.

Marshall Meek, mba ’17, president, Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation, said he’s excited to work with Mazachek to connect additional donors with these impactful changes.

“Henderson is going to be transformational,” Meek said. “It’s our main academic building and every undergraduate student will likely take a class there at least once. If you want to change the experience for our students, Henderson has the greatest impact.”

The recital hall will connect to the northern edge of White Concert Hall to provide a smaller, more intimate artistic setting. Upgrades are planned for Lee Arena, home to graduation celebrations and the basketball and volleyball programs. Nearby metal buildings housing Facilities Services will be removed to make way for more green space, including an outdoor gathering space. Facilities Services' equipment will move to the southeast corner of 21st and Washburn Ave., property Washburn currently occupies. A new manufacturing institute is in the planning stages for Washburn University Institute of Technology. A new president’s residence will be built on the northwestern edge of campus thanks to a donor’s generous gift.

The plan also includes the removal of several buildings, including Benton Hall.

“Benton was a great residence hall, and it's served a good number of students, but it does not meet the needs of today's students, and the learning environment is not ideal for how we need to teach our students,” Mazachek said.

Funding for these projects will come from several sources including reserves, debt financing, donors and State of Kansas grants. A timeline and budget for this plan have not been finalized although Mazachek projects a seven-year window.

Washburn leadership will host several town hall meetings on campus to share ideas and receive additional input from students, faculty and staff. Support from alumni and local business leaders also will be key to moving Washburn forward.

“Growth is our top priority at Washburn, and research shows prospective students choose a particular university based on the look and feel of campus. It is more important than ever,” Mazachek said. “As the higher education landscape changes, Washburn’s landscape will change, too, and provide the best campus learning experience for all students.”

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

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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