New to WU: tech school merger complete

Chris Nelson

The affiliation between Washburn and Kaw Area Technical School took place in July, and officials look forward to enhancing the availability of higher education in the community.

Management of Kaw was passed to Washburn from Topeka Unified School District 501 Board of Education. Kaw will serve as a unit of Washburn and will be governed by the Washburn Board of Regents.

Robin Bowen, vice president of academic affairs, said the affiliation is not a stretch on Washburn’s resources. Although now connected, both schools will continue to have separate budgets. Kaw will continue with their own curriculum and programs but their director will report to Bowen.

“I don’t think Washburn students will feel an impact,” said Bowen. She said, if anything, the affiliation is positive. There will be an increased number of individuals in a university setting who might not normally be.

Post-secondary education students from Kaw may continue their pursuit of education by streamlining from programs to further degrees at Washburn.

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Not only will students have a smooth transition, they will also have access to many Washburn resources. Post-secondary students will be able to make use of Mabee Library, Student Health Services and the University Bookstore. Although Kaw students will receive many Washburn benefits, they will not be eligible for Washburn financial aid. Both of the school’s police departments, as well as technical support, have teamed up to enhance services. Michael Gunter, director of Information Systems and Services, said Washburn is currently working on understanding the Kaw network in order to bring the two together. There are very few support staff at Kaw and the expansion not Washburn will benefit them.

“Dr. Farley made it clear that ISS is not to reduce Washburn availability or resources due to this,” said Gunter.

Gunter said they are currently working on student log-ins. They want students to be able to log-in to the same network on either campus.

Dean Forster, director of Washburn University Police, said the affiliation put both police forces under him. Officers are cross training so they can cover for either campus if someone becomes ill or goes on vacation.

Bowen said cross training officers will better prepare them if a major catastrophe occurs. The forces will be able to join and take care of the situation as a team.

Kaw is also facing a name change. Bowen said Washburn wants input from both schools and conversations will begin at the end of the month to discuss different possibilities. She said many technical schools have been encouraged by the state to use the term “college” in their name, but right now it is unknown what the change will be.

Bowen said the affiliation has strengthened ties and now provides one greater entity of educational services.