Message from Dean Pratt

Dear Washburn Law Community:

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am particularly mindful of the gratitude I feel for our alumni and friends who have supported us during the pandemic. So many of you have joined us in virtual alumni events, spoken to our students virtually, taught a class, or given to our scholarship fund to help students get the technology they needed to continue their education and pay for other expenses associated with their education. Thanks to your support, no student at Washburn Law had to withdraw from law school due to the pandemic.

I also feel very grateful for our students who were extremely diligent with masks, handwashing, and social distancing this semester. Their conscientiousness got us through the semester without having a single faculty member or staff member incapacitated by the virus. Because the infection rate in Shawnee County had climbed to an all-time high and the hospital had reached its capacity for in-patient treatment of COVID-19 patients, we moved law school operations, including classes to an exclusively remote format for the last two weeks of classes. We plan to administer final exams remotely so that students will not need to return to campus for exams. We will be preparing a graduate recognition video to honor our December graduates, but we hope they will be able to participate in an in-person graduation ceremony in May of 2021. We are planning to start the spring semester with light staffing on campus and in-person classes that are socially distanced and broadcast live to remote participants via Zoom. However, if the pandemic continues to worsen, we could decide to start the spring semester in a totally remote and online format.

I am also thankful that we have exceeded our fundraising goal for the law school building campaign. At the end of October, we had the privilege of celebrating Mike and Doreen Manning's capstone gift and seeing the beautiful architectural renderings for the Michael C. Manning Advocacy Suite and Courtroom. I encourage everyone to read about Mike's amazing career in one of the several books that examine aspects of his career. My favorite book about Mike's work is: Trust Me: Charles Keating and the Missing Billions. It tells the story of Mike's role in representing the federal government in the infamous savings and loan scandal of the 1980s, and it captures beautifully the lawyer that Mike has been throughout his career. In my mind, Mike is the most accomplished trial lawyer in Washburn University School of Law's history, so we should all be proud that we can claim him as a Washburn Law alumnus.

I appreciate the generosity of all of our donors who contributed to the building campaign. We exceeded our fundraising goal by $1 million, and will be proceeding with a $34 million budget for a new law school building. The architects have designed a beautiful new building, and we expect to break ground sometime in May 2021. I am also thankful for our colleagues at the Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation who helped us meet with donors to share the vision for this project and raise the necessary funding to bring the project to reality. This past year, everyone at the Foundation was working on our fundraising project, so we owe all of them our thanks, but special thanks go to Patrick Mikesic, Karla Whitaker (now retired), and Kaitlin Alegria for their full-time work supporting the law school.

I hope you enjoy the architectural design images of the new building. This building will have integrated technology throughout including a digital donor wall with a searchable feature to search for the name of a particular donor and to see the various categories of donors. For now, you can see who has given to our project by visiting our website.

If you have not yet contributed to the project but want your name to be in the searchable digital donor wall, it's not too late. You can give online or e-mail me or Patrick Mikesic ( We would be happy to speak with you.

We stepped up our wellness efforts this semester with programming in partnership with the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program so I want to say thank you to our alumnus, Danielle Hall for providing that programming to our students to help them cope with the stress of life, law school, and the pandemic. I also want to thank Professor Janet Thompson Jackson who has been holding weekly meditation sessions for the law school community and modeling wellness for our students.

I am so very thankful for our staff who have worked tirelessly to support our students and convert operations to an online paperless format. To show our appreciation to our staff and to lift morale, we will be hosting a small virtual awards ceremony for staff members in December. Follow us on social media including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to see who has worked for Washburn Law the longest and see the recipients of other awards that convey our appreciation to staff members.

Speaking of awards, I want to congratulate each of our alumni award recipients. The accomplishments of our alumni never cease to amaze me, so I am grateful that we can recognize a few more outstanding alumni this year!

In closing, I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving and a happy and healthy holiday season!

Your dean,

Carla Pratt

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Photograph: Dean Carla D. Pratt.

Carla D. Pratt

Dean Pratt talks about the impact education has had on her life and how law has a role in shaping higher education (3:43 minutes).
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Dean Pratt talks to "TopLawSchools" about Washburn Law's student life, academics, admissions process, career opportunties, employment outcomes, and more.