Washburn Tech retains employees throughout COVID-19


Glorianna Noland

Turnover remains stable at Washburn Tech. Lacey Roberts, former human resources manager at Washburn Tech, had not noticed an increase in resignations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Kansas grapples with the ongoing teacher shortage, one technical school in the state has kept many of its faculty and staff on board during what many refer to as the “Great Resignation” brought on by the pandemic.
Washburn University has seen recent resignations in faculty, administration and staff. However, Washburn Tech has not noticed a dramatic increase in resignations, before or throughout the pandemic.
Lacey Roberts, now the associate director of human resources at Washburn University, had not seen large amounts of resignations during her time at Washburn Tech as the human resources manager.
“On the staff side especially, there hasn’t been huge resignations,” Roberts said.
Of the resignations that Washburn Tech does see are in its faculty, not its staff.
“We at Tech see several resignations a year,” said Michael Strohschein, interim dean at Washburn Institute of Technology. “When I came in, we replaced more than 12 instructors, and we continue to replace 10 to 12 new instructors every year.”
Many instructor resignations that come across human resources are because of retirement and are often announced toward the end of the school year. This was the case for the recent retirement announcement of Washburn University’s president, Jerry Farley.
“It may feel like it because there may be little pockets where we have a few people that resign within a few months or a few weeks of each other, and that makes it feel like that number is actually going up,” Roberts said. “But we see a standard towards the end of the year. We’re going to have instructors that choose to retire, that’s going to happen every year.”
But not all resignations are equal, as career related opportunities factor towards resignations that Roberts sees every year.
“It’s always going to be the nature of the beast. There’s obviously people that are leaving, and there are other companies that have a greater means to provide,” Roberts said. “So really, there’s normal turn and churn that we see in any organization that the university sees as well. I don’t think there’s been any spikes or any turnover that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”
Although, the phenomenon of the “Great Resignation” stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic is also worth considering as people retire or change jobs.
“What we’re seeing nationwide is a lot of people in roles who are transitioning,” said Steven Bryant, assistant dean and director of student services at Washburn Institute of Technology. “Folks who have been in higher ed for a long time are saying, ‘You know what, I’m ready to retire or I’m ready to change paths.’ So those will be positions that we will have to fill as well.”
Washburn Tech hopes that resignations will remain stable as they move forward with initiatives and new programs, such as the new plumbing technology program beginning in the fall at the east location.
Edited by: Ellie Walker, Simran Shrestha