President gives WU history lesson at Friday with Farley

Charles Rankin

President Jerry Farley gave a small history lesson about Washburn University at this month’s edition of Friday with Farley April 13.

Since there was little big news to report, Farley immediately opened up the meeting to questions from those in attendance. Someone asked when Washburn was founded. Farley briefly discussed the beginnings of the university, which began in 1865 as Lincoln College, and how its first 12 students came from a rare and diverse make up, which included both men and women and an African-American student.

Abby Price, senior sociology major, asked Farley about the status of Washburn as a municipal university and what that means for the university. He gave a detailed account of how the state of Kansas works with higher education and how Washburn is unique from every other school as far as Kansas statutes are concerned.

“We’re in a category of one school,” Farley said. “It’s just us. We don’t report to the mayor. We don’t report to the city council. We have our own board of regents. In statute, we are titled a municipal university.”

Farley went on to talk about how other universities around the country, such as the University of Cincinnati and the City University of New York, began as municipal universities and then were taken over by other state agencies.

Price went on to ask if Farley ever saw Washburn becoming a state university.

“Nope,” Farley said, bluntly.

Farley returned to history mode and discussed how the private Washburn College became a public school after the city decided to help fund the school at the end of the Great Depression. He mentioned that there were a few pushes for Washburn to become a state university, which would give the school more funding from the state and ease city property taxes. All of those campaigns failed, however, and Washburn is still not a state university.

Farley also briefly discussed progress on two building projects, the law school and the indoor practice facility.

Finally, a student mentioned different union movements around the country, and asked if there were any organized labor groups on campus. Farley said that Washburn has a memorandum of understanding with facilities services employees.

“We have a great relationship with [those employees], and have had since they organized on campus,” Farley said.

While this is the last Friday with Farley for the semester, it is expected to continue next school year. They are typically scheduled for noon the second Friday of each month.