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Washburn University Faculty and Staff Honored as Emeriti

05/12/17 08:05 am CDT

     Topeka, Kan. – Washburn University faculty and staff members were recently honored with the status of emeritus and eminentes universitatis. The title of emeritus is given to faculty who have taught at Washburn for ten years or more and retire in good standing. “Eminentes universitatis” can be loosely translated to “outstanding ones of the university” and is an honor given to staff members who have been employed at Washburn for ten years or more, and retire in good standing.

     Washburn faculty honored as emeriti are:

Tom Averill- Averill has been a member of the English department for more than 36 years. Over the years, he has developed and taught a range of courses, not only various writing courses within the major, both beginning and advanced, but also the capstone publishing course and several special topics courses. Many of these courses have been cross-listed, team-taught, inter-disciplinary, and/or honors courses. Tom has been a constant mentor to both students and faculty, freely sharing his expertise and practical wisdom when it comes to all things writing and all things Kansas. Tom has published a number of books of fiction, both novels and short story collections, along with many articles, poems, and public talks.

Frank Chorba- During the last 33 years as a faculty member of the mass media department, Chorba established "The Journal of Radio Studies," which became the "Journal of Radio and Audio Media," and was chosen as the official journal for the National Broadcast Education Association. For more than 30 years he has been involved, reviewing articles, presenting at the national BEA conference, and organizing panels for presentations both regionally and nationally. Dr. Chorba founded the Radio and Audio Media Division of the Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association and has served as a chair for this division for 35 years, chairing numerous panels and presenting research.

Iris Craver- Craver has been a member of the Washburn human services department for 37 years. She played a key role over many years to merge separate certificate and technical credit programs into one academic department that now offers three degrees and four certificates. She was one of the earliest adopters of online education at Washburn and strongly advocated for the development of online programs and for support for distance-education students. Craver helped to start the Learning in the Community (LinC) program, which has grown to provide community service opportunities for students and the Community Service Transformational Experience.

Barry Crawford- Crawford has been a professor of religious studies and philosophy for 38 years at Washburn. He has often taught well above the required teaching load of faculty and has team-taught courses with faculty from other disciplines. He regularly offered special studies courses not only to religious studies majors, but to others interested in learning Greek and Hebrew. He advised countless students and helped guide many in preparation for postgraduate work or seminary. Despite maintaining a consistently heavy teaching load, Professor Crawford has been a productive scholar, authoring many articles and scholarly presentations.

Bill Gahnstrom- Gahnstrom has been a member of the mathematics and statistics department for more than 18 years. He has taught a wide variety of courses, never failing to maintain high standards for his students. Gahnstrom has served as course coordinator for Applied Calculus I, which involves writing final exam reviews and courses, and has been on several textbook selection committees. Although not required, Gahnstrom served as adviser to more than half a dozen senior Capstone projects since 2006.

Nancy Gray- Gray began her career at Washburn School of Law more than 20 years ago as the circulation and faculty services librarian. As the first point of contact for students and library patrons, Gray make their needs and requests a priority and smoothly assists with finding research and information.

Russ Jacobs- Jacobs has been a member of the philosophy department for more than 40 years. He was the founding president of the faculty senate as well as the faculty representative to the Board of Regents on two separate occasions. For the past five years, Jacobs has been the chair of the philosophy department. He regularly teaches five philosophy courses and has been the recipient of the Morrison Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching Philosophy on two occasions.

Diane McMillen- McMillen has been a faculty member in human services for more than 26 years. She was an integral part of helping the department grow from a technical credit program to an academic department with three degrees and four certificates. McMillen helped to build and professionalize the department’s internship program, as well as the pi chapter of the National TUA Human Services Honor Society. She has played a pivotal role as the department’s liaison to the National Organization for Human Services and the Midwest Regional Organization for Human Services, regularly taking students to conferences and working with them on national and regional presentations. Dr. McMillen has served as the faculty advisor for over two decades for the WU Human Services student coalition, working with the students on a variety of service projects in the community.

Sam Newland- Newland has been a member of the Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Department since August 2007. Newland has worked as the Military Studies Program Coordinator for the last four years. In that time, he has chaired the Military Studies Advisory Board, guided adjuncts in the area, and served as a valuable liaison for the department and the Reserve Officer Training Candidate (ROTC) School. Newland has made numerous contributions to the department and the university.

Paul Prece- Prece has worked full-time at Washburn for 35 years. He has directed over 150 plays and musicals at Washburn and other Topeka theatres. In addition to the usual semester courses, Paul has organized and escorted four groups of students to London. Prece founded the Washburn Children’s Theatre and has served as chair of the theatre department for 21 years. In addition, he has been the director of the Bachelor of Integrated Studies program for the last three years, where he has helped countless students to finish their degrees and graduate.

Tom Schmiedeler- Schmiedeler joined Washburn in 1996 as a geography professor. In addition, he has seved as the university’s Director of the Center for Kansas Studies. Under Schmiedeler’s leadership, the center has transformed from a small group of scholars to a vibrant organization with an annual Kansas Day event and an established academic minor for students. Schmiedeler has made geography a significant and relevant element of general education and the liberal arts curriculum. His dedication to the state of Kansas and the education of its residents is a testament to his effectiveness in the classroom and his dedication to the core values of his calling.

Curtis Waugh- Waugh joined the the Washburn University School of Law in 1998 and has been a faculty member for 18 years. A graduate of the School of Law himself, Waugh has served students in many roles through the years. Waugh was on the Washburn Law Journal in 1985 – 1987 and was the Associate Editor from 1986 – 1987.

Penny Weiner- As a faculty member of the theatre department, Weiner has written, directed, and acted in numerous productions in her 15 years at Washburn. She has attended and presented in a number of national intensive programs for playwriting and has also escorted students to the ACTF Regional Festival on several occasions where she also served as a new play mentor/director. Weiner has directed a number of very successful productions and has worked to include both students and community members. She has served continuously on the committee for Apeiron where she also was mentor to a number of Playwriting students who read original work.

David Winchester- David began his career at Washburn University as the institution’s Serials Librarian in 1982. In 1985, David played a founding role in the creation of the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG). Through his work with NASIG, he was equipped to bring Washburn libraries into the digital age. Largely through the implementation of his vision, the libraries were transformed into a nonstop hub of activity and learning. Winchester’s helpfulness and attentiveness to the needs of others made him a pleasant and valuable resource for anyone visiting the libraries at Washburn.

     The recipients of the eminentes universitatis designation are:

Mary Allen- Allen began her career at Washburn in 1988 as a part-time nursing advisor, bringing her own personal nursing experience and also her experience working with nursing students at the collegiate level. She later became a full-time nursing advisor, and since 2007 has served in her current position as Director of Student Academic Support Services. Allen plays an integral role in student admissions, progressions, retentions, and recruitment. She has served on several School of Nursing committees throughout the years and volunteered her services as representative on Staff Council. Allen’s counsel and guidance have benefited thousands of nursing students at Washburn.

Peter Bonnell- Bonnell started in the Facilities Services Department as Mechanical Systems Supervisor in 2006. During this time, he has provided a high level of expertise and dedicated leadership to the facilities services area in the utility distribution and mechanical systems operation. During Bonnell’s tenure, several new buildings were brought on line for which he was responsible. Bonnell was an integral part of many new energy efficient intiatives which will continue to benefit the university for many years.

Bob Chipman- Chipman 38 seasons at the helm of the Ichabods basketball team. He is the MIAA's all-time winningest coach with 569 wins. Chipman’s overall win total of 808 wins makes him 16th in all-time NCAA coaches at all levels and he is third in all-time coaching victories in active NCAA Division II coaches. Chipman led the Ichabods to the NAIA National Championship in 1987 and was inducted into the Washburn Hall of Fame in 2004.

Alan Doolittle- Doolittle began his service to Washburn University in 1985 as manager of the service area. He led the department in providing mimeograph machines, collating by hand, and later digital printing and mailing. Doolittle was instrumental in negotiating with the US Postal Service to maintain a postal substation on campus. When the University partnered with Washburn Institute of Technology, Alan pursued the opportunity to create a learning laboratory there, providing hands-on experience for students. He enjoyed working with students and created intern opportunities within his operations.

Judy Liesmann- Judy began her career in the University Registrar’s Office in February 1999 and quickly became invaluable, completing extra training to be more effective in her job. She spent the summer of 2003 building a module for the upcoming implementation of a new student data system. When Washburn decided to implement a more robust degree audit system, Liesmann was called upon to lend her expertise to the Degree Works implementation. In her tenure at Washburn, Liesmann has persisted through three degree audit systems, three declaration of major systems, three office moves, and three University Registrars. During this time she has checked and posted degrees for thousands of Washburn graduates.

Marsha Madl- Madl has served Washburn since 2002 in the institutional research department. Madl has served many roles, as a business intelligence analyst, creating reports, reviewing work for accuracy and clarity, and serving internal and external constituents. She has helped transition Institutional Research through three system changes. Anyone who has asked the department - and in later years Information Technology Services – for data or a report has somehow been aided by Marsha, whether she completed the request, reviewed others’ work before releasing it, or helped get the requests to the right developer.

Becky Shaffer- Shaffer has worked in the Art Department since 2009, when she transitioned from the Memorial Union, and has been with Washburn for nearly 16 years. Shaffer has played a tremendous role in the art department’s success. She handles the often hectic demands of the department with a positive demeanor and has developed and maintained relationships across the campus, the community, and with vendors that facilitate and enhance the department needs. She has provided much guidance for students and student organizations, resolving problems while still in the early stages.

Karen Simpson- Simpson has been employed at Washburn since 1993, providing administrative assistance in the Kinesiology Department, Center for Learning and Student Success, and the English Department. She always went beyond what was required for students, faculty, and the university. Simpson was appointed to the first Staff Council and to the inaugural B.E.S.T class, and received the Outstanding Service Award in 2001.

Delene Van Sickel- Van Sickel has been with Washburn since 1993 and has served the university in many roles, most recently as the administrative assistant for Washburn University’s Mulvane Art Museum. In the last nine years, she has provided support for staff administratively at the Mulvane Art Museum. That support has included updating the Museum’s website, working with staff to provide accurate and current information on programs and exhibitions, assisting the Friends of Mulvane with the organization and planning of the Mulvane Art Fair, and coordinating museum memberships.

Lyle Waring- Waring began his work as a Facility and Systems Technician II at Washburn in August of 1996. In that capacity, his chief responsibility has been to the management and usage of the sound, lighting, and equipment required for all groups that utilize White Concert Hall. Waring serves as a liaison with public officials as well as with university administration in his role, assisting with production of many performances, concerts, and events. Without fail, he is professional, pleasant, and is always willing to help find solutions when problems arise. He has assisted many students with producing quality audition CDs and DVDs for graduate school submissions, musical competitions, and contests. In addition to the needs of our students, Waring’s expertise is essential to the various community groups that use White Concert Hall regularly.

Alan Whitford- Sergeant Whitford began his 29 year career at Washburn in 1988 being hired as a security officer. He was promoted to police officer in 1997 as one of the five original state certified officers in the newly created Washburn University Police Department. In 2002, he was one of the first three people in the department to be promoted to the rank of sergeant. During his career at Washburn, Sergeant Whitford has established a reputation of reliability as evidenced by his five perfect attendance awards. He has been responsible for vehicle maintenance, department inventory, officer scheduling, and special event planning. Whitford has received numerous commendations for his actions in the field and he has dedicated his career to protecting the Washburn community and the citizens of Shawnee County.

Henry Williams- Williams joined Washburn University in October of 2006 and most recently worked as a custodian in Morgan Hall. Williams is known to many at the university to keep a smile on his face and a “fish story” at hand. His work ethic and positive attitude made him a valuable asset to Washburn and a delight to work with.

     Congratulations to all who were honored with the status of emeritus or eminentes universitatis.



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