VIDEO: Board of regents discuss ‘Penn State’ issue

The Washburn University Board of Regents held their monthly meeting on last Wednesday, in the Forum Room of the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center. All but one member of the board were present, including Jerry B. Farley, president of the university. Even the Ichabod mascot was in attendance.

On the consent agenda were revisions to the Washburn University Policies, Regulations and Procedures Manual, announcement of Honorary Degree candidates and several new degree proposals.

Farley gave some good news in his report, stating that students from Washburn Tech competed in the Kansas Skills USA Competition, which includes technical institutes from around the country, placed first place in the design contest in two states. Farley then mentioned that two Washburn seniors, Shawn Bryant and Blake Bryant, and Richard Liedtke, executive director of enrollment management, had been accepted into the 2012 Leadership Greater Topeka.

Farley then spoke briefly about other recent Washburn related events, such as students who had volunteered in Costa Rica and New Orleans over Winter Break and the “Alternative Spring Break” program, a donation to Washburn Tech from the Kansas Contractors Association and the finishing of the Mulvane Art Museum.

A few more reports were given before the board moved on to the agenda item: the first one was the revision to the sexual harassment policy of Washburn. Parts were added to the policy to fine-tune the responsibility and action needed to be taken by Washburn staff in sexual harassment situations.

David Moses, a board of regents member who sat next to Farley, spoke up about the policy revisions concerning the language.

“I’m curious by what we mean by the language ‘must take steps to prevent its continuation,'” said Moses. “It could be misinterpreted.”

Moses said that he assumed that the revision was driven by the Penn State situation, in which Jerry Sandusky, Penn State’s former assistant coach, was accused of sexually abusing children and a few school officials were sanctioned for not reporting the alleged abuse. Moses said that he was curious if the chosen language of the revision meant requirement to physically break up any sexual harassment and violence that is witnessed. The writers of the revision said that the language had been suggested prior to the Penn State situation.

“I’m not so sure we want to mandate that,” said Moses.

The discussion over the issue went on for some time before the chair of the board decided that the revision should be dropped from the consent agenda and discussed more closely by a subcommittee at another time.

The two candidates for Honorary Degree were announced and approved by the board, including the honorable Christel E. Marquardt, Doctor of Law, and Brigadier General Deborah S. Rose, Doctor of Public Service. Marquard graduated from the Washburn School of Law in 1974, has served on the board of regents from 2007 to 2011 and has remained a supporter of Washburn and the Washburn University School of Law in numerous ways. Rose graduated from Washburn in 1982 with a bachelor of science in nursing, before beginning a career in the military. She has also been a big supporter of Washburn, and will receive an honorary degree along with Marquardt at the May 2012 commencement ceremonies.

Next on the agenda was the proposal for a new degree: a doctorate of nursing practice. Packets of information were handed to the members of the board and a PowerPoint presentation was shown. This has been in the works for several years and is finally coming into action. After the presentation, the board approved the new degree and a short round of applause commenced.

A revision to the bachelor of science in nursing curriculum was then proposed and approved. Along with that was the proposal of two more new degrees, including the master of arts, human services degree for addiction counseling and the master of health sciences in health care education degree.

Lastly, the discussion turned toward the department of labor, who in October of 2011 awarded Washburn University with a $19.6 million grant to expand on Washburn Tech and create and build six more technical schools and community colleges.

A proper site for the project was found and work will begin on it as soon as possible. The board approved and shortly after granted the meeting adjourned.