Message from Dean Pratt

Dear Washburn Law Community,

We are emerging from the pandemic and returning to normal operations. All law school employees will return to campus by June 1, and we will resume normal summer operations at that time.

Photograph: Pedro Irigonegaray receiving honorary doctorate of law degree at May 15, 2021 Washburn Law commencement.The CDC's new guidance came in time for us to host a beautiful in-person Commencement ceremony for our 2020 and 2021 law school graduates on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Watch on Facebook.) It felt so good to be able to resume this tradition of celebrating our graduates in Lee Arena. Pedro Irigonegaray, from the Washburn Law class of 1973, delivered a moving and inspirational commencement address to our graduates (see video at 31:20). Pedro was also awarded the honorary doctorate of law degree from the university (see video at 53:20). For those of you who don’t know Pedro, he is a nationally well-known trial lawyer who has dedicated his career to representing individuals from marginalized backgrounds. He has fought to protect the civil rights of victims of sexual abuse, victims of police brutality, medical patients, and gay and transgender individuals. I was delighted to see this legal giant of the post-modern civil rights movement receive the highest honor that a university can bestow upon an individual—the honorary doctorate degree.

Washburn not only survived the pandemic, we thrived. Applications to the law school were up 30% this year. Washburn Law 2020 graduates ranked number 1 in the region and in the top quarter of law schools nationwide for securing full-time, long-term, bar exam required employment. This accomplishment is in large part due to the dedication of Dean Tammy King and Cindy Moyer in our Professional Development Office.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently devoted an issue to the jobs lost in higher education due to the pandemic. More than half a million people in higher education lost jobs due to the financial difficulties imposed by the pandemic. Thanks to the leadership of our president, Dr. Farley and vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Mazachek, I am proud to share that Washburn University did not have to resort to employee furloughs or lay-offs during the pandemic.

I am also thankful that sound fiscal leadership at the university means that the law school building project will proceed as planned. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new law school building is less than a month away. If you follow me on Twitter @Washburnlawdean, you saw my photos showing the contractors preparing the site to begin construction. I look forward to welcoming many of our donors to this project to campus on June 11 as we celebrate the launch of this building project. I again want to thank each of you who contributed to the new building campaign. You made the dream for a state-of-the-art "smart building" a reality and helped us position Washburn to be a leader in technology-supported legal education.

Now that Covid-19 infections have subsided here in the U.S., we are planning to resume in-person alumni events for the upcoming academic year. Nonetheless, we will continue to host some Zoom alumni events as well. One thing that we have learned from the pandemic is that Zoom events allow us to connect with alumni around the world, and we very much want to maintain those connections.

The next upcoming in-person event is a retirement celebration for our 2020 and 2021 retirees: Jim Concannon, David Pierce, Bill Rich, Aida Alaka and Tom Romig. Please join us on the South Patio at the law school on June 4 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to celebrate these outstanding colleagues.

Photograph: Aida Alaka, Jim Concannon, David Pierce, Bill Rich, and David Pierce.

Please also mark your calendar for our next summer CLE excursion. This summer, August 3 to 7, we will meet in the Ozarks for continuing legal education courses, communing with nature and fellowship with each other. Learn more and register for this fun in the sun event. I hope to see you there!



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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.