Washburn University

Washburn University
Former names
Lincoln College
Washburn College
Washburn Municipal University
Motto Non Nobis Solum
Motto in English
Not for Ourselves Alone
Type Public
Established February 6, 1865 (1865-02-06)[1]
Academic affiliation
Endowment $156.48 million (2015)[2]
Chairman William Sneed
President Jerry Farley
Provost JuliAnn Mazachek (interim)
Academic staff
Students 6,615 (fall 2015)[3]
Location Topeka, Kansas, U.S.
39°02′02″N 95°41′56″W / 39.033786°N 95.698975°W / 39.033786; -95.698975Coordinates: 39°02′02″N 95°41′56″W / 39.033786°N 95.698975°W / 39.033786; -95.698975
Campus Urban, 160 acres (0.65 km2)
Colors Yale Blue & White[4]
Nickname Ichabods
Mascot The Ichabod
Sporting affiliations
Website washburn.edu

Washburn University (WU) is a co-educational, public institution of higher learning in Topeka, Kansas, United States. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as professional programs in law and business. Washburn has 550 faculty members, who teach more than 6,100 undergraduate students and nearly 800 graduate students. The university's assets include a $152 million endowment.


Washburn University was established in February 1865 as Lincoln College by a charter issued by the State of Kansas and the General Association of Congregational Ministers and Churches of Kansas on land donated by abolitionist John Ritchie. The school was renamed Washburn College in 1868 after Ichabod Washburn pledged $25,000 to the school. Washburn was a church deacon, abolitionist and industrialist who resided in Worcester, Massachusetts.[5]

Washburn University’s mascot, The Ichabods, honors the school’s early benefactor, Ichabod Washburn. The original design of the studious-looking, tailcoat-clad figure was created in 1938 by Bradbury Thompson (B.A. ‘34), who became an internationally acclaimed graphic artist.[5]

In 1913 the medical department of Washburn College closed. Previously the Kansas Medical School had become infamous on December 10, 1895, when it was discovered that some of the bodies used for anatomical study had been stolen from local cemeteries. As the news was being printed (eventually across the country) the governor called out state troops to protect the school in fear of a riot. Three of the doctors, including the Dean of the school, and a janitor/student from the school were arrested as well as one man not a member of the school. Charges against the doctors were discharged, the janitor was convicted but had his conviction reversed on appeal and the final man was convicted but later pardoned.[5]

During World War II, Washburn Municipal University was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[6]

On June 8, 1966, only a few days after classes were dismissed for the summer, much of the campus was demolished by a tornado, and completely denuded of trees.[7] Three months before the tornado struck, the Washburn Board of Trustees had reinsured every building on campus for the maximum amount. A week after the tornado struck, summer classes began at Topeka West High School. By the fall of 1966, Stoffer Hall was repaired and trailers were in place. It took years to reconstruct the campus, with students attending classes in trailers well into the early 1970s.[5]

Formerly a municipal university, the university's primary funding was moved from city property tax to county sales tax sources in 1999, with the school retaining status as a municipal subdivision of the state.[5] Washburn is governed by its own nine-member Board of Regents.[8]

President and the Board

Aerial view of Washburn campus in 1948
Class of 1900 in front of Rice Hall

The president of Washburn University is Jerry Farley, who has served as president since 1997 and taken an active approach in improving academics and student life. Washburn University is governed by a nine-member Board of Regents. Three, who must be residents of the state of Kansas, are appointed by the Governor. Three residents of the City of Topeka, one from each of the state senatorial districts, are appointed by the Mayor. One is the Mayor or a member of the governing body of the city designated by the Mayor. The Shawnee County Commission appoints one member, who must be a resident of Shawnee County but not of the City of Topeka. The Kansas Board of Regents annually selects one of its members to serve on the Washburn Board. Members of the Board (with the exception of the Kansas Board of Regents' appointee) serve staggered four-year terms.[8]


These persons have served as presidents or interim presidents of Washburn College (1869–1940), Washburn Municipal University of Topeka (1941–1952), and Washburn University (1952–present).[9]

Title Name Years
President Horatio Q. Butterfield[10] 1869–1870
President Peter McVicar 1871–1895
President George M. Herrick 1896–1901
President Norman Plass 1902–1908
President Frank K. Sanders 1908–1914
President Parley P. Womer 1915–1931
President Philip C. King 1931–1941
Interim President Arthur G. Sellen 1941–1942
President Bryan S. Stoffer 1942–1961
President Harold E. Sponberg 1961–1965
President John W. Henderson 1965–1980
President John L. Green 1981–1988
President John Duggan 1988
Interim President Robert L. Burns 1988–1990
President Hugh L. Thompson 1990–1997
President Jerry Farley 1997–present
16 presidents; 2 Interims 147 years

Law School

Formed in 1903[11] the Washburn School of Law was one of the first in the country to have a legal clinic where students are able to actively practice the legal profession. Today, it is in the minority of law schools to employ a full-time faculty for its law clinic. The Washburn School of Law had the highest pass rate of the Kansas State Bar Exam of any law school in the state of Kansas. The Washburn Law Library houses over 380,000 volumes and is the largest in the state.[12] It has been ranked as one of the top 20 law school libraries in the country.[13] Notable alumni include Bob Dole, Roy Wilford Riegle, Dennis Moore, Kim Phillips, Bill Kurtis and Fred Phelps.


The main buildings of Washburn University are all dedicated to someone or of are important part in Washburn's history.[14]

Building name Function of building
Living Learning Center Housing and dining
Memorial Union Conference rooms, Dining services, Ichabod Shop (Bookstore)
Stoffer Science Hall Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Computer Information Sciences, and Physics/Astronomy
Mabee Library Library, Washburn University Writing Center
Morgan Hall Departments of Mathematics, English, Communication, and Modern Languages
Student Recreation & Wellness Center Recreation activities
Garvey Fine Arts Center Departments of Music, Theatre, Philosophy, and Religious Studies
Petro Allied Health Center Athletics Department
Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center Alumni Association
Bennett Computer Center Information Technology Department, computer labs
Carnegie Hall Department of Education, Curriculum Resource Center, Deay Computer Lab
Art Building Art Department (painting, sculpting)
Carole Chapel Open to public, classroom
International House International programs, and Study Abroad programs
Benton Hall Leadership Institution, Center for Community Service, and School of Applied Studies
Henderson Learning Resources Center School of Business, Departments of History, Mass Media, and Sociology
KTWU Building KTWU-TV, newspaper
Law School Building Washburn University School of Law
Foundation Building Washburn University Foundation


Main article: Washburn Ichabods

The athletic teams are known as the Ichabods. Prior to the 2013–14 season, the women's athletic teams were known as the "Lady Blues". On May 24, 2013, President Farley announced that all athletic teams will be known as the Ichabods for the first time in history.[15] Washburn is a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II.

Campus attractions

Notable alumni


  1. Martha Imparato. "Washburn University History" (PDF). Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  2. As of June 30, 2015. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2014 to FY 2015" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. 2016.
  3. "Board of Regents Announce 2015 Fall Semester Enrollment" (PDF). Topeka, Kansas. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  4. Washburn University Logo Use & Licensing Guidelines (PDF). 2016-10-14. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "History". washburn.edu.
  6. "McDonald, Billy Ray "B.R."". The Dwight D. Eisenhower Foundation. 2000. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
  7. "STORIES OF THE 1966 TOPEKA TORNADO". washburn.edu.
  8. 1 2 Board of Regents, Washburn University
  9. "Meet the President". washburn.edu.
  10. "Welcome to Washburn". Washburn University website. Retrieved 3 May 2016. Past Presidents 1869 – 1870: Horatio Q. Butterfield
  11. Law School History
  12. Washburn Law Library
  13. "Welcome to the Law Library". washburnlaw.edu.
  14. "Virtual Tour". washburn.edu.
  15. "Washburn Athletics". Washburn Athletics.
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