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Washburn University to Confer Four Honorary Degrees May 12, 2018

05/10/18 02:05 pm CDT

     Topeka, Kan. - Washburn University will give four honorary doctorates during spring 2018 commencement ceremonies May 12, 2018. The honorary degree is the highest academic recognition Washburn University can bestow. These recipients have demonstrated high standards of excellence in their life and work as evidenced by scholarship, public service, and in commitment to the development of Washburn University.

J. Thomas Marten, doctor of law

     J. Thomas Marten was born in Topeka, graduated high school in Onaga, Kan. and returned to Topeka to attend Washburn University. He received his Bachelor of Arts in 1973 from Washburn University and his Juris Doctor in 1976 from the Washburn University School of Law (Washburn Law).

     He worked his way through college and law school by working at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. After graduating from Washburn Law, Marten served as law clerk to then Associate Justice Tom C. Clark of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. He then spent 19 years practicing law, with an emphasis in litigation, in Nebraska, Minnesota and Kansas, including 14 years as a member of Bremyer & Wise, P.A. in McPherson, Kan.

     President Bill Clinton appointed Marten as United States District Judge for the District of Kansas in 1996 - his great uncle, the late Judge Delmas Hill, once held the same position. Marten hung his uncle’s photo, along with those who held that post after Hill, on the wall next to where his black robes hang to remind him of those who came before him. He served as Chief Judge of the District of Kansas from April 2014 until May 2017, taking senior status in May 2017.

     Marten’s contributions extend beyond the courtroom. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Sedona Conference, and he has completed terms on the Information Technology Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States and the Board of Directors of the Federal Judges Association. Marten has taught/lectured at Harvard Law School, Wichita State University, the National University of Ireland and the Department of Justice Trial Advocacy center. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars throughout the country, including ALI-ABA’s Antitrust and Employment Law Litigation and Antitrust.

     Marten, also a musician, has composed numerous songs. His three-piece string band, The Shoes, performed at the 2007 inauguration of Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius. 

     Marten is a founding member of the Wesley E. Brown American Inn of Court in Wichita, named after a former colleague and friend. He served on the School of Law Board of Governors and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washburn University School of Law Alumni Association in 2016.

John H. Stauffer Sr., doctor of humane letters

     John H. Stauffer, Sr., a native of Arkansas City, Kan., received a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas (KU) in 1949. While at KU, he served as managing editor of the University Daily Kansan and was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Following college, through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), the Department of the Army commissioned him as a second lieutenant in the infantry. He served in Korea with the 27th Infantry, 25th Division and he was discharged from active duty as a first lieutenant.

     He began his career in publishing with Stauffer Publications, Inc., first serving as a copy boy and then interning at the Topeka State Journal and Daily Capital. He spent five years as a reporter for the Topeka State Journal before being named editor of the Newton Kansan, where he worked from 1954-1957. Stauffer was editor and general manager of the Kansas City Kansan from 1957-1972. He then served as editor, general manager and then publisher at the Topeka Capital-Journal until 1986. He served as president of Stauffer Communications, Inc., and retired as chairman of the board with the sale of Stauffer Communications, Inc. He continues to serve on the editorial board of the Topeka Capital-Journal.

     Stauffer has served in numerous capacities with many trade and community-focused organizations, including the American Red Cross, ASNE (American Society of Newspaper Editors), the Easterseals Capper Foundation, the Inland Press Foundation, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Chamber, the KC Press Club and the William Allen White Foundation. He served on the boards of the American Newspaper Publishers Association, the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Association for Commerce and Industry, the Kansas Development Credit Corporation, the Kansas Foundation for Private Colleges, the Kansas Newspaper Foundation, the Kansas/Missouri Associated Press Editors, The Salvation Army, Stormont-Vail Regional Medical Center and the Topeka Community Foundation.

     He has received numerous awards for his contributions, including the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame, Jayhawk Area Council - Distinguished Citizen Award, the Junior Achievement Topeka Business Hall of Fame Laureates Award, the Topeka Community Foundation Philanthropist of the Year and the Washburn University President's Award.

     Stauffer joined the Washburn University Foundation Board of Trustees in 2007, and served as a director from 2008-2012. He and his late wife, Ruth, supported the John and Ruth Stauffer Fund for Kansas Studies, a scholarship fund for single parents, and the Carole Chapel project. Stauffer and his wife Barbara have supported the Welcome Center and the Mulvane Art Museum.

Jacki Summerson, doctor of commerce

     Jacqueline (Jacki) McQuillan Summerson grew up outside Clearwater, Kan., graduating as valedictorian from Clearwater High School in 1964. She attended Kansas State University for two years before transferring to Washburn University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and physical sciences in 1968. In 1967, she married Frank T. Summerson, who passed away in 2010, and together they established roots in the Topeka community.

     During her senior year at Washburn, Summerson began her career in computer science.  After graduation, she taught an evening computer class at Washburn University, from 1969-1970. For two years, she worked in the computer department at Hallmark Cards, Inc. in Kansas City, Mo. Summerson returned to Topeka as project leader of Medicare systems in the computer department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas. In 1980, she took a job with Ken Orr & Associates, a systems design consulting firm, and was a vice president until 1988.

     She and Frank purchased the Manpower franchise in the Topeka area in December of 1987. In 1993, Summerson was instrumental in forming AMIC (AMFO Members Insurance Company), a captive insurance company for all U.S. Manpower franchises to self-insure themselves for workers’ compensation. They expanded the business adding additional franchise operations in Wichita, Kan., Springfield, Mo. and East Texas, owning more than 40 offices. In 1990, they started Professional Security, Inc. and in 1995, PSI Armored, Inc. After a successful career, they sold Professional Security, Inc. and PSI Armored, Inc. in 2006 and Manpower franchises in 2008.

     Summerson is the past president of AMIC and served as a board member. She also served on the Human Resources Committee of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry for many years.

     Summerson joined the Washburn University Foundation Board of Trustees in 2011 and serves on the investment committee. She created an estate gift to support professorships and chairs across all academic units at Washburn, in addition to the Jacqueline Summerson Fund for Excellence and the Frank & Jacqueline Summerson Athletic Business Scholarship Fund.

Dale Pond, doctor of commerce

     Dale Pond was born in Spokane, Wash. and resided briefly in Seattle, Wash. and San Diego, Cal. before settling in Prairie Village, Kan. Pond received his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1969 from Washburn University. He is also a graduate of Stanford University's Graduate School of Business Executive Program.

     After graduating from Washburn, he served as a regional director of sales for an NBC affiliate in Topeka and formed a Topeka advertising company, Peabody and Pond. Pond enlisted in the United States Marine Corps (USMC). He served six months active duty, remained in the USMC Reserves and was honorably discharged in 1975.

     Pond excelled in the field of merchandising, marketing and strategy development. He is credited with creating the McDonald's Happy Meal concept, in use since 1979, during his tenure with Bernstein/Rein Advertising, Inc., where he managed the agency’s McDonald's nine regional offices. In 1981, Pond joined Payless Cashways in Kansas City as vice president of advertising and marketing, and in 1986, he became senior vice president of chief merchandising and marketing.

     In 1989, Pond joined a management-led buyout of the Montgomery Ward Company and moved to the company’s Chicago headquarters as the chief marketing officer and member of the company’s executive committee. He also served 12 years with Lowe's Companies, Inc., retiring in 2005 as the senior executive vice president of merchandising and marketing. During his tenure with Lowe's, Pond served on the executive management committee, the real estate committee, the strategic planning committee and the board of directors for the Lowe's Educational & Charitable Foundation.

     After his retirement, Pond remained an active member on company boards as lead director of Family Dollar Stores, chairman of organization, compensation and nomination for Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc., Scripps Network (includes HGTV, The Food Network, Travel Channel, etc.) and consulted with Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Automotive Group. His interests also include humanity-focused initiatives, like the Home Safety Council, the Harvard MIT Joint Center for Housing, Kansas City Arts Council, State Ballet of Missouri, Texas A&M Center for Retailing Studies, Colorado Special Olympics, The National Center for Small Communities and the Home Improvement Research Institute.

     In 2005, Pond received a Washburn University Alumni Fellow award and was a “Wake up with Washburn” speaker in April 2001. Pond endowed the Dale and Susan Pond Scholarship. The large bronze sculpture in front of Morgan Hall on the Washburn University campus, Confluence of Love and Learning by artist Rita Blitt, was made possible through his generous support.

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