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Washburn University to Confer Four Honorary Degrees May 13, 2017

05/11/17 10:05 am CDT

Topeka, Kan. - Washburn University will give four honorary doctorates during spring 2017 commencement ceremonies May 13, 2017. 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.

Kerry E. McQueen, doctor of law

Kerry E. McQueen was born in Kirwin, Kan. He received a Bachelor of Science in business from Fort Hays State University in 1961, and earned his Juris Doctor from Washburn University School of Law in 1965.

McQueen is an accomplished civil litigator and stockholder and president of Sharp McQueen, P.A., with offices in Liberal and Overland Park, Kan. He was admitted to the Kansas and U.S. District Court, District of Kansas in 1965; the U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit in 1969 and the U.S. District Court Northern District of Oklahoma in 1976. McQueen has devoted the majority of his practice to civil litigation, antitrust, collective bargaining agreement arbitration, education, health, and workers’ compensation law and has served as the firm’s managing stockholder since 1991.

He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, where he served on the State Committee from 1993-98, and an Associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates, where he served as president of the Kansas Chapter from 1985-86. McQueen is past chairman of the Kansas Board of Examiners of Court Reporters served from 1998 to 2013 and was elected to the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission from 2006-14. He is a member and past president of the Seward-Haskell County Bar Association. McQueen is a member of the Kansas Bar Association and served as past secretary and past member of the Board of Governors. He is a member and past board member of the Kansas Association of Defense Counsel. McQueen is a member of the Southwest Kansas Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Kansas Bar Foundation, the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys, the Kansas Association of Hospital Attorneys, the American Academy of Hospital Attorneys, and a past member of the Defense Research Institute, Inc.

McQueen is listed in Best Lawyers of America and the Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers Top 100. McQueen received the William Kahrs Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kansas Association of Defense Counsel in 2010.

Ben Coates, doctor of public service

Ben Coates was born in Sparrow’s Point, Md. Coates served in the U.S. Air Force for four years, much of it in South East Asia, and his military service brought him to Topeka, Kan. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Washburn University in 1969. He received a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Kansas in 1972 and engaged in graduate work in public administration from the University of Southern California from 1982-85.

Coates is a respected criminologist and sociologist who taught sociology and criminal justice at Washburn University for more than 40 years. Coates began his career at Washburn as an adjunct instructor in sociology from 1970-74. He was one of the founding members of the Department of Criminal Justice at Washburn, and was an assistant professor from 1974-80 in the sociology and criminal justice departments. In 1983, Coates returned as an adjunct instructor and continued to teach until 2015.

Beyond Washburn, Coates is known for his pioneering research in prison reform, which led to more effective, fair and humane sets of policies and practices in the system of incarceration and parole.  He conducted two national studies of violence in prisons and the effectiveness of parole for the U.S. Department of Justice. Appointed by Kansas Governor Robert Bennett, Coates served as a member of the Kansas Adult Authority Parole Board from 1975-78. Perhaps his most important work was the development of the criminal sentencing guidelines still used today. He served as director of Children and Family Services for Catholic Community Services from 2000-04. During a long career at SRS, Coates served as deputy commissioner of Economic and Employment Services from 1997-99, chief of staff for Youth Services from 1993-97, executive director for Kansas Sentencing Commission from 1989-93 and director of the Juvenile Offender Program from 1982-86.

Coates was honored with the Distinguished Service Award for Contributions to the Field from the Washburn Department of Sociology and Anthropology in 2015. Coates received the Presidential Award from the Kansas Correctional Association in 1994 and the Distinguished Service Award from Kansas Association of Court Service Officers in 1991.

B. Kent Garlinghouse, doctor of humane letters

B. Kent Garlinghouse was born in New York City, N.Y., and raised in St. Louis, Mo. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., in 1963. He earned his Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, Boston, Mass., in 1965.

Garlinghouse began his career as an investment analyst at Irwin Management in Columbus, Ind., from 1965-70. He joined M-C Industries, Inc. as president and chief executive officer in 1971 and moved the company’s headquarters to Topeka, Kan. Under his creative, entrepreneurial, low-key leadership style, Garlinghouse took M-C Industries from $1 million to $30 million in sales in 1997, when two divisions were sold to a competitor. Since 1997, sales for the remainder have grown from $15 million to $40 million. M-C Industries (now Polo) manufactures custom industrial products and employs 350 associates with factories in Monticello, Iowa, Louisville, Miss. and an affiliate in China.

As an integral part of the Topeka community, Garlinghouse and his wife, Susan, founded Topeka Collegiate School, an independent preschool through eighth grade college preparatory school. When Topeka Collegiate School opened in 1982, it was only the second independent school in Kansas.

Garlinghouse was the founding board chairman of the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center and co-founder of Heritage Bank in Topeka. He served as chairman of St. Francis Health Center and served on the boards for Merchants National Bank and Kansas Policy Institute.

He was inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame in 2009 and was named Executive of the Year by Sales and Marketing Executives of Topeka in 2004. Garlinghouse taught as an adjunct instructor at the Washburn University School of Business. He joined the Washburn University Foundation Board of Trustees in 1994 and has served on the executive and finance committees.

Grace Sawyer Jones, doctor of humane letters

Grace Sawyer Jones was born in Topeka, Kan. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Washburn University in 1960. She received her master’s degree in community recreation with group work method from George Williams College, Downers Grove, Ill., in 1965 and her doctorate in organizational behavior from the Union Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio in 1985.

Jones had a distinguished career in higher education. She most recently served as president of Three Rivers Community College, Norwich, Conn., retiring in June 2014. During her 13-year tenure, Three Rivers became one of the most technologically advanced community colleges in New England. She also led the merger of two college facilities into one – Thames Valley Technical College and Mohegan Community College to create Three Rivers Middle College.

Jones began her career in Chicago, Ill., where she taught secondary physical education and science. Jones entered higher education's community college environment in the late 1970s as a faculty member at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Mass. During her 10 years at Berkshire, she served as a faculty member, coordinator of the recreational leadership program, coordinator of student activities and the college union, and as director of personnel services.

In 1990, Jones joined the State University of New York, Oneonta, and served as vice president for multicultural affairs in addition to serving as a tenured professor. In 1996, she became Utah's first black college president as she joined the College of Eastern Utah, Price, serving as president from 1996-2001.

Jones received the Citizen of the Year award from the Chamber of Commerce of Southeastern Connecticut in 2012. She was awarded “The 100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut” by the Connecticut State of NAACP in 2009. In 1997, she was recognized as a Distinguished Kansan in Education. 

Jones received Washburn’s Distinguished Service Award in 1986 and was named an Alumni Fellow in 2014. In 2011, Jones created the endowed Sawyer Family Multicultural Leadership Scholarship Fund at Washburn University.


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