Graphic: Proposed north entrance to new law school building, and thumbnails of floorplans.

New Building Opened in July 2023: Donor Stories

Kent Smith: In Honor of Delmas Hill

Smiths recognize fellow Washburn Law alumnus with gift to the building.

Photograph: Kent and Karen Smith (photo by Woodie Williams Photography, Inc.).Kent Smith, '66, clerked for the late Delmas Hill, '29, after law school. Hill was appointed to the U.S. District Court of Kansas by President Harry Truman and elevated to the 10th Circuit Appeals Court by President John F. Kennedy, serving on the federal bench for 28 years. Smith credits Hill for giving him a unique perspective on the law.

"Judge Hill and I worked well together. He gave me tremendous responsibility, which I relished," Smith said.

"I understand they're going to continue having a room dedicated to Judge Hill in the new law school," Smith said. "I've been pretty generous with Washburn financially all along, but this time I decided to make a pretty special contribution, just to help the institution that's meant so much to me. Hopefully it will do the same for others."

Read more about Kent and Karen Smith's story in Washburn Lawyer (1.3 MB PDF).

Kem, Susan, Jim, Stuart, and Lynne Lowry: Family Legacy

Siblings make gifts to new law building in memory of their father.

Photograph: Gordon and Margaret Lowry.Kem Lowry, BA '64, Susan Lowry, BSW '69, Jim Lowry, BA '70, Stuart Lowry, JD '85, and Lynne Lowry knew that Washburn University was a big part of the life and career of their father, Gordon Lowry, BA '41, JD '46, and that he wanted it to be a part of his legacy. His five children made sure it was with gifts in his and his wife Margaret's memory to the School of Law building campaign.

"We talked with Dad about what his wishes were with respect to gifts," Stuart said. "One entity he definitely wanted to recognize was Washburn Law because of the important role the school played in his life and all or our lives."

Read more about the Lowry Family Legacy story.

Linda Graves: Building a Strong Platform

Believes new building will meet technological demands of legal education.

Photograph: Linda Graves (photo by VanDeusen Photography).Linda Graves, '78, looking back on her legal education, notes the current Washburn Law building was well before the Internet age – they were dealing with hard copy books in the library, so today, she can certainly see the need for a new building and the need for a new technological infrastructure.

"That building now represents the equivalent to a rotary dial landline," she said. "We need really outstanding, creative lawyers who are fully-equipped to learn the skills necessary to deal with the issues we have today. The new building will help create the setting where that occurs."

Read more about Linda Graves' story.

Lucky DeFries: Keeping People Connected

Appreciation for education and opportunities at Washburn Law leads to new building gift.

Photograph: Lucky and Pam DeFries. (Photo by Nick Krug.)Lucky DeFries, '78, recognizes that one benefit he enjoyed as a result of attending Washburn Law is the connections he made that catapulted him into his satisfying and enjoyable career. DeFries is serving as chair of the Washburn Law board of governors and notes that "[w]e're always looking for ways we can better connect with students after they graduate and provide opportunities for them to continue to participate."

"I would hope that most graduates realize the quality of the legal education they got at Washburn was a real gift, something that has provided them many opportunities and opened a lot of doors for them," DeFries said. "We would hope that they would recognize that supporting a campaign like this is just one of the ways they can give back to the law school."

Read more about Lucky and Pam DeFries' story in Washburn Lawyer (1.9 MB PDF).

Michael Manning: Managing Success, Giving Back

Washburn Law shifted Manning's career outlook, now he's giving back to building campaign.

Photograph: Michael and Doreen Manning.Michael Manning, J.D. '77, Honorary '07, and his wife have given back to Washburn Law with a gift to the School of Law building fund. Manning knows the new building will provide the tools to mold the next generation of lawyers.

"My wife, Doreen, asked me, 'Look at your career. It's been blessed from the beginning to now. What factor was the most important in that success?' And the answer was instantaneous and it was Washburn Law," he said.

"The physical plant needs to be improved to continue to attract the level of applicants I think are crucial to a law school’s reputation," he said.

Read more about Michael and Doreen Manning's story.

Cynthia Heath: $1 Million Challenge

Donors exceed washburn trustee's building challenge.

Photograph: Cynthia Heath.Cynthia Heath, BA, '71, believes now is the time to make the commitment to build a new law building at Washburn University. To encourage giving Heath committed up to $1 million to match all new and increased gifts designated to the building. Her challenge was met, and exceeded, within 5 months.

"I couldn't be happier the challenge was quickly met by alumni and friends of the School of Law," Heath said. "This shows the momentum and excitement we have for constructing a new law school building on campus that will showcase our already prestigious programs."

Heath is senior advisor, executive compensation at Emerson Electric. She met her late husband, David Heath, BA '70, JD '76, at Washburn. Heath has served on the Washburn University Foundation Board of Trustees since 2007.

Read more about Cynthia Heath's challenge in Washburn Lawyer (326 KB PDF) and the press release (76 KB PDF) about the challenge being met.

Martin Wisneski/Lisa Hammer: Faculty and Staff Exceed Their Challenge

"Mystery Donor" challenge encourages faculty and staff giving.

Inspired by Cynthia Heath's $1 million building challenge, law school and law library staff member Martin Wisneski and his wife, Lisa Hammer, '90, took up the cause to inspire others to give as well through a "mystery donor" challenge to the law school faculty and staff. In addition to giving back to the institution that has played such a major role in their lives, they hoped to encourage more faculty and staff to give to the new building. By the completion of the challenge, more than 75 percent of the law faculty and staff had given more than $107,000, exceeding the initial challenge by 300 percent.

Photograph: Martin Wisneski and Lisa Hammer with some of the Washburn Law faculty and staff who contributed to the new building campaign.

"Times have changed," said Hammer. "The competition for law students is keen – students are more aware of law school debt now, so they are more selective. You must put a good foot forward. You have to be sharp looking. We need to sharpen Washburn Law's physical image."

In total, as of March 2018, law school faculty and staff have contributed in excess of $425,000 to the law school building campaign since it began.

Read more about the faculty/staff "mystery donor" challenge in Washburn Lawyer (4.4 MB PDF).

Judy Jenkins: Day of Giving Challenge

Photograph: Judy Jenkins.Judy Jenkins, BS '04, JD '07, and Washburn University Foundation trustee, issued a $5,000 match, with another anonymous donor doing the same, for Washburn's annual Day of Giving. In total, more than 35 donors gave to the law school building campaign and almost $30,000 in gifts were raised on the Day of Giving.

"I was happy to be in a position to both challenge and to remind my classmates to show their support for the school's building project," Jenkins said. "It was my hope my classmates would match my challenge, exceed my goal or simply begin the conversation with the Foundation or the Law School to learn about the many ways to support the college, the current and future students. I felt it was my turn to begin paying it forward."

Troy Stremming: Embracing Technology

Dynamic experiences lead to belief in importance of new building.

Photograph: Troy Stremming.Troy Stremming, BBA '91, JD '94, doesn’t view his time at Washburn as merely fond memories to occasionally glimpse in the rearview mirror. The business and legal educations he received were such huge factors in his success, that he’s committed to staying involved and supporting the school in return.

"Offering a new, state-of-the-art law school to an already strong academic foundation will allow us to recruit the best of the best for years to come," said Stremming. "Law students spend an extraordinary amount of time in the law school itself, whether that's in the library, clinics or classrooms. As we settle into a new century, students need access to classrooms that are more flexible and outfitted with the newest technology."

Read more about Troy Stremming's story in Washburn Lawyer (406 KB PDF).

Kevin Arnel: More Than a Career

A doorway to endless possibilities.

Photograph: Kevin Arnel (photo by Jeff Tuttle).Kevin Arnel, '87 uses the word opportunity frequently when talking about Washburn Law. Arnel's pledge to the new building fund is a way he hopes to repay the school for the many opportunities he has received as a student and an alumnus.

"This pledge is a way for me to give back a little and thank the law school that’s given me so much over my professional career," said Arnel. "I’m grateful to Washburn Law, and I hope to make sure that others have the same chances that I've had."

Read more about Kevin Arnel's story in Washburn Lawyer (558 KB PDF).

Ann Frigon: One Graduate's Challenge

Encouraging classmates to support the new law school facility.

Photograph: Ann Frigon.Ann Frigon, '80, looks back at her time spent as a student at Washburn University School of Law with fond memories. "I met some close friends, and we all went on to have good careers," she said.

Frigon has made a pledge to the law school building fund in honor of her family and her late ex-husband, Donald Frigon, '78.

"We had a really neat class with a great group of people. A lot of us have done really well for ourselves over the years. I'm absolutely challenging them to support future students and Washburn Law’s continued greatness."

Read more about Ann Frigon's story in Washburn Lawyer (512 KB PDF).

Katie McClure: A Big Gift, a Bit at a Time

Alumnae gives back the same way she grew her career – month by month

Photograph: Katie McClure.|Katie McClure, '02, has parlayed her Washburn Law education and connections into a 10-year career at Denver firm Sawaya, Rose, McClure & Wilhite, P.C. – where her name is on the door. McClure didn't want to wait to start putting something back into the Law School in light of what she has gotten out of it. Her solution: a recurring monthly gift to the building campaign.

"It's a recurring gift that they charge my credit card every month. It really makes it easy, so I don't need to be sending in a payment," McClure said. "And if I'm going to be giving to an organization, I really want to give to an organization that I have emotional ties to."

Read more about Katie McClure's story in Washburn Lawyer (568 KB PDF).

Jack Focht: Building Up, Paying Back

$100,000 building gift is a thank-you for his remarkable career.

Photograph: Jack Focht.Jack Focht, '60, is still actively engaged in the practice of law. He has witnessed firsthand how the profession has evolved in the last half century – and how the Washburn Law building has aged since opening in 1969.

"I went home and talked to my wife, who also spent a semester at Washburn Law, and I said, 'You know, we've been very fortunate in the practice of law. We've both done very well. I owe a lot to Washburn Law for where I am, and I'd like to repay that.'"

Service is a given, as far as Focht is concerned – led by one simple, guiding credo: To whom much is given, much is required. It's an idea he encourages fellow alumni to think about.

Read more about Jack Focht's story in Washburn Lawyer (473 KB PDF).

Jim and Linda Slattery: Law School Needs New Building

$250,000 building donation is the practical choice.

Photograph: Jim and Linda Slattery.Jim Slattery, BS '70, JD '74, has applied a practical approach throughout his career, whether running for the Kansas Legislature or serving in the U.S. Congress,

"The existing law school building was just a couple years old when I enrolled. The facility, at that time, was very nice. But that was 40 years ago. The needs of the students have fundamentally changed, given the reliance upon technology and the different methods of research today," he said. "Linda and I support this project because we believe in the law school’s ongoing mission: training lawyers to pursue justice. That's really what the new building is all about."

Read more about Jim and Linda Slattery's story in Washburn Lawyer (1 MB PDF).

Bill, Paul, and Brandon Berkley Support New Building

Three generations contribute $100,000.

Bill, BBA '72, JD '75, Paul, '56, and Brandon, '03, each had different experiences at Washburn Law, they all have found their legal foundation a valuable component of their successful careers in banking at the State Bank of Downs and a small law firm.

"An older building might keep some people from choosing Washburn if they can attend school in a better-equipped facility elsewhere," Bill said. "We think it's important to give back to an institution that has given us so much, and we think a new law school building will keep Washburn strong and able to grow in the national academic rankings."

Photograph: Bill, Paul, and Brandon Berkley.

Read more about Bill, Paul, and Brandon's story in Washburn Lawyer (1 MB PDF).

George and Theresa Barton Make New Building Gift

$500,000 committed to new law school facility.

Photograph: George and Theresa Barton.George Barton, '77, believes a new building will aid recruitment efforts by creating an innovative, inviting environment that complements the law school's student-centered, practice-ready teaching focus.

"There is a legitimate need to build a new facility," he said. "I think Washburn Law is a terrific institution that provides one of the best educations you can get. After I graduated, I realized I was well-equipped to meet the challenges of being an attorney in Kansas City. Theresa and I wanted to contribute back."

Read more about George and Theresa Barton's story in Washburn Lawyer (1 MB PDF).

Paul and Jeanne Hoferer: The Advocates

Maintaining status not an option.

Photograph: Paul and Jeanne Hoferer.Paul, '75 and Jeanne BBA '80, Hoferer view the status quo as equivalent to lagging behind, losing ground. That same philosophy spills over into their role as Washburn alumni. The Hoferers share a sense of urgency when it comes to supporting a new facility for the School of Law.

"Jeanne and I were so very fortunate as Washburn students. We received wonderful educations that helped set the path for our careers," Paul said. "We really believe that it is our responsibility to give back to the university that gave us so much."

"We believe in Washburn and its future," Jeanne said. “We believe in the vision ... for a new law school. We have to do our part to make that vision a reality – both through our own financial support and by encouraging others to join in the effort."

Read more about Paul and Jeanne Hoferer's story.

To discuss your gift please contact:

Patrick Mikesic
Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations, School of Law
(785) 670-1869

Photograph: Anne McInerney.
Anne McInerney
Assistant Director of Development and Alumni Relations, School of Law
(785) 670-2752