Message from Dean Pratt

Dear Alumni and Friends,

As the spring semester draws near a close, we are working to help support our Ukrainian colleagues. We are launching a fundraiser to raise the funds needed to host at Washburn Law at least one student who currently or previously lived in Ukraine or attended school in Ukraine. We would like to be able to cover all expenses including housing on campus and a meal plan for the student. Every dollar donated will be used to support the student, and if we raise more than needed for one student, we will offer support to more than one student. I want to thank Professors Craig Martin and Tonya Kowalska for their support of this effort as co-directors of our International and Comparative Law Center. If you can support this effort, please visit and select "Washburn Law Ukraine Scholarship" from the Designation options to donate. Thank you in advance for your support.

Thankfully, we are again planning for an in-person commencement ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates next month. This year we are permitting students to wear cords to signify honors and stoles to signify membership in a national law student organization. We owe thanks to Shelby Grau, our new director of compliance and administration for coordinating the commencement celebration and creating the rules that will permit our graduates to wear celebratory cords and stoles.

We are also planning for several leadership transitions at Washburn. With Dr. Farley’s upcoming retirement, we are preparing to say farewell to a president who transformed Washburn from a small commuter school to a residential university that attracts students worldwide. I am so grateful to Dr. Farley for affording me the opportunity to lead the law school. I have enjoyed working with the law faculty to continue to deliver outstanding legal education to students from diverse backgrounds at an affordable cost. My departure is now a month away. I start a new journey in my home state at OU Law in June. I hold dear the many friendships that I have made during my time at Washburn. I will always have a special place in my heart for Washburn so don’t be surprised if you see me showing up at events from time to time. I will especially be looking for the date of the ribbon cutting on the new law school building. It is exciting to see walls being constructed and the rooms in the building come into existence. It is going to be a beautiful space supporting student learning and faculty and staff work. This month we selected the upholstery, flooring, and counters for spaces in the building, and we have been working with our technology experts on campus to make sure that the building has the integrated technology that we will need to teach students and upgrade our production of online course content.

Next month we will also say farewell to Dr. JuliAnn Mazachek who has been appointed president at Midwestern State University in Texas. While I know that many of us hate to see Dr. Mazachek leave Washburn, we should be proud that Washburn produced a leader who will be among the elite group known as university president. I also want to thank Dr. Mazachek for affording me the opportunity to lead the law school, and for sharing her wisdom and experience with me as we grappled with the many challenges confronting higher education and the pandemic. I also want to thank all of you for your support during my term as dean. Those of you in Topeka welcomed me with open arms when I started as dean in 2018, and those of you outside of Topeka extended support in the form of kind words, teaching expertise, and financial generosity. You made my deanship a successful one, so for that I say—thank you.

The leadership changes at Washburn present a unique opportunity for the university and the law school. The departure of Dr. Mazachek and the retirement of Dr. Farley leave big shoes to fill, but these changes also afford the opportunity to bring new insight and new energy to the university. Likewise, my departure as dean of the law school brings the opportunity to bring someone with the energy and enthusiasm to keep up the grueling pace of the deanship that is necessary to continue to move an institution forward. Washburn Law has a respected and collegial faculty as well as alumni who are devoted to their law school. These two facts alone will draw strong dean candidates nationwide. The law school will end this fiscal year with a surplus, so it is also in good financial position. Next year, the law school will hire several tenure track faculty members, it will occupy one of the most beautiful and technologically sophisticated buildings on campus, and it will have the employment and bar pass outcomes of Third Year Anywhere™ – one of the most innovative programs in legal education. The future of Washburn Law is bright, and I look forward to seeing the law school continue to thrive.

To afford me the opportunity to say goodbye to many of you, the Foundation is hosting a farewell reception on the South Patio of the law school on Monday, May 23, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Please RSVP to let us know you are attending. I hope to see you there!

With warm regards,

Dean and Professor of Law

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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.