Washburn University President Jerry Farley and Vice President of Academic Affairs Randy Pembrook expressed high hopes for Washburn’s future at the general faculty meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
“It will be an important and eventful year,” said President Farley.
The meeting started off with Farley discussing the various new and exciting things going on around campus. A proposal to the Topeka Legislature has been put together to request $1.2 million in additional funding for the Forensics department, whose new building is currently under construction. This funding would go towards providing the department with the various supplies required to give students in the field the best education possible.
“The governor has been very supportive of this,” said Farley.
One of the biggest announcements involved the problem of a waiting list for the residency halls at Washburn. The growing demand for on-campus housing, which helps cut commuting costs and allows students to grow together, was addressed. To allow more students the benefit of on campus residency, plans are in place for the construction of new student housing. It would be built on the east side of campus, near Stoffer Hall and would include an estimated 350 beds, as well as its own cafeteria. The building would have a somewhat different concept than the Living Learning Center, however, as it would be open to all classes, not just freshmen. The new residence building is expected to be completed in time for the Fall 2016 semester.
Farley also congratulated the faculty on their hard work ensuring that students who had attended Washburn in previous semesters reenrolled. Over the summer, many faculty members called students to remind them that Washburn works for the students and encouraged them to continue pursuit of their education. Approximately 400 students reenrolled, thanks to their efforts.
Farley then urged faculty to continue reinforcing the idea that Washburn will do anything it can to help the student body. He also made remarks about the incoming freshmen class.
“This looks like a really good class of students. They seem to be eager and we have the opportunity now to mold them, educate them and make them productive citizens,” said Farley.
To help with continuous enrollment, the debt limit for enrollment was also raised from $500 to $1000.
Following Farley’s discussion of plans for the college, Associate Professor of Biology Matt Arterburn was unanimously elected as secretary.
Pembrook then took the stage to talk about transfer students, give survey results and present awards to some of the departments.
Wa s h b u r n ’ s students were surveyed, and their answers were compared to colleges around the country. Higher levels of diversity and reflection on diversity were reported. Healthy student-faculty interactions were perceived, as students feel recognized by their professors, and report the size of the classrooms are just right. Students report that they feel Washburn is a supportive environment, in general. 84 percent of freshmen and 83 percent of seniors said they would pick Washburn again if they could start over.
The amount of work students are doing off campus was reported as higher than average at Washburn. Pembrook discussed finding ways to employ more students on campus.
“That’s problematic,” said Pembrook. “All that time they’re gone, they’re not thinking about the issues we want them to [think about].”
The departments of Nursing, Communication Studies, Education, Mass Media, Psychology, Allied Health, Criminal Justice Legal Studies, Social Work, Biology and English were each awarded $500 for maintaining or increasing online grading in their classes. This money will go to help support each program in various ways. The Rising Star Assessment Award, made for areas for doing outstanding work all around in their programs, was given to the departments of Intensive English and Mathematics.
New faculty members were also introduced and a presentation was given by the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning on electronic integration and apps to assist teachers in the classroom.