Professor Alan Bearman guides students

Joelle Conway

Professor Alan Bearman, Dean of Washburn University’s Libraries, was awarded by the organization ACT, known for its college readiness examination, as the 2019 Kansas ACT College and Career Readiness Postsecondary Champion.

The ACT College and Career Readiness Champions support preparing individuals for education and workplace success. These Champions are people who are honored for their dedication and impact on their university’s communities.

Joining the Ichabod family in 2003, Bearman became the Dean of Libraries in 2008. Over the course of 16 years, he has diligently advocated for increasing student success at Washburn by aiding in the implement of programs such as the First-Year Experience, the Ichabod Success Program, WU 101 and the Peer Education program.

“This award is a testimony to all the hard work being done at Washburn by lots of people to help students transition to university, succeed while they’re here, and try to graduate on time,” said Bearman.

Bearman emphasized how achieving this award was not a sole effort, but that of a team. There are many faculty and staff members who contributed to Washburn’s excellence.

“My name is on them because somebody nominated me, but really, this is an award for Washburn University and how much it cares about students and their success,” Bearman said. “It means I work at a great university that genuinely cares about students, and I have the opportunity to spend time with these students and help them achieve their dreams. My job is to find ways to help students succeed.”

Associate Dean Sean Bird attests to Bearman’s heart and dedication for the Washburn community by describing his experience working with Bearman as exceptional. When Bird was faced with a family tragedy in 2012, he spoke with Bearman about his worry.

“I will always remember him saying ‘family first’ to me while I was worrying about when I was going to return to work,” said Bird. “That phrase describes his attitude of putting the Washburn family first.”

Non Nobis Solum, Washburn’s motto, means “not for ourselves, alone.” Bird illustrated how Bearman is thoughtful about connecting with the students, faculty and staff of Washburn by referring to our motto.

“How can we be better, for ourselves and one another” Bird said. “This is a question that myself and Dr. Bearman frequently ask. Students are at the forefront of all Dr. Bearman does.”

Along with his title of Dean of University Libraries, Bearman oversees various student success programs, academic advising,  First-Year Experience program, tutoring centers within the library and prior learning and testing center. Bearman also has the pleasure of accompanying students on abroad and domestic trips.

Bearman is also a professor of history. As a part of WUmester, he is teaching a course on the separation of church and state. In a nutshell, Bearman is an ichabod of all trades.

A project Bearman and his colleagues have been working hard on this year is an upcoming app called “Navigate.” Part of “Navigate” will be utilized for academic planning through your mobile phones and tablets.

Instead of logging into MyWashburn to search and register for classes, students will have a built-in academic plan through the app. Based on your preferences, the app will create a suggested schedule at the touch of a finger-tip. The app works on all smartphones and tablets.

The academic planning portion of “Navigate” is projected to be available to students for spring 2020 enrollment in October of next semester. During September, testing mobile registration will certainly be occurring. Washburn is part of only 15 schools in America to be testing the app.

In comparison to the operating hours of the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, which is open about 90 hours a week, Mabee Library is now open 105 hours every week. During success week and finals week, Mabee will be open 24 hours per day throughout the two week period. With a staff of approximately 35, these hours of operation demonstrate the dedication the librarians and staff of Mabee have for the success of students.

“The next big push for us in the next year or two is to do a better job with transfer students,” said Bearman.

Bearman and his colleagues are wanting to create more programs and activities to benefit this portion of Washburn students.

As a first-generation college student himself, he is passionate about representing this population of students.

“Education is still the thing that levels the playing field in this country. It is absolutely crucial that we help first-generation students graduate, and graduate in large numbers,” Bearman said.

One of his favorite experiences is welcoming new students in their first year and hugging them after they walk across the stage at commencement.

“I’m fortunate that at my job I see students at both ends of the tunnel,” said Bearman.

Bearman also explained that there are few things more exciting than hugging a first-generation student when they graduate.

“There’s nothing quite like when you see a person at the beginning and watch their journey to the end. Knowing that I even had just a little bit to do with their success is a really special, indescribable thing.”