Washburn University of Topeka
Former names
Lincoln College (1865–1868)
Washburn College (1868–1941)
Washburn Municipal University (1941–1952)[1]
MottoNon Nobis Solum (Latin)
Motto in English
"Not for Ourselves Alone"
TypePublic university
EstablishedFebruary 6, 1865; 159 years ago (1865-02-06)[2]
Endowment$155.3 million (2020)[3]
PresidentJuliAnn Mazachek
ProvostJohn Fritch
Academic staff
Students5,663 (Fall 2023)[4]
Location, ,
United States

39°02′02″N 95°41′56″W / 39.033786°N 95.698975°W / 39.033786; -95.698975
CampusMidsize city[5], 160 acres (0.65 km2)
NewspaperWashburn Review
ColorsYale blue and white[6]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIThe MIAA
MascotThe Ichabod

Washburn University (WU), formally Washburn University of Topeka, is a public university in Topeka, Kansas, United States. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as professional programs in law and business. Washburn has 550 faculty members, who teach more than 6,100 undergraduate students and nearly 800 graduate students. The university's assets include a $158 million endowment. As of 2008, Washburn also took over overseeing the technical school in the area, Washburn Tech.


Washburn University was established at Topeka, Kansas, in February 1865 as "Lincoln College", by a charter issued by the State of Kansas and the General Association of Congregational Ministers and Churches of Kansas; the land on which the college stood was donated by abolitionist John Ritchie. The institution was renamed "Washburn College" in 1868, after Ichabod Washburn pledged $25,000 to the school. Washburn was a church deacon, abolitionist, and industrialist who lived in Worcester, Massachusetts.[7]

Washburn College adopted a variation of the Washbourne arms as its emblem, substituting the school colors for the tinctures of the arms. Since becoming a university, however, Washburn has abandoned use of the family arms. Instead, the university now employs a stylized "W" as the emblem of the institution. The school mascot, "The Ichabod", is still in use.

"The Ichabod" honors the namesake and early benefactor of the institution, Ichabod Washburn. "The Ichabod" existed only in name until 1938, when alumnus (and later prominent graphic artist) Bradbury Thompson (B.A., 1934) created the studious-looking, tailcoat-wearing figure the university uses today. The athletic teams are nicknamed "Ichabods", although women's teams did not use that nickname until the 2013–14 school year.[7]

In 1913, the medical department of Washburn College closed. The medical school had become infamous on December 10, 1895, when the public discovered that some of the bodies used for anatomical study had been stolen from local cemeteries. As the news was being printed (eventually across the country), the governor, fearing riots, called out state troops to protect the school. Three of the doctors, including the dean of the school, and a student-janitor from the school were arrested, as was one man who was not a member of the school. Charges against the doctors were discharged, the janitor was convicted but had his conviction reversed on appeal, and the fifth man was convicted but later pardoned.[7]

During World War II, Washburn Municipal University was one of 131 colleges and universities in the nation taking part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program, which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[8]

On June 8, 1966, only a few days after classes were dismissed for the summer, much of the campus was demolished by a tornado, and completely denuded of trees.[9] Three months before the tornado struck, the Washburn board of trustees had reinsured every building on campus for the maximum amount. A week after the tornado struck, summer classes began at Topeka West High School. By the fall of 1966, Stoffer Hall was repaired, and trailers were in place. It took years to reconstruct the campus, with students attending classes in trailers well into the early 1970s.[7]

Formerly a municipal university, the university's primary funding was moved from city property tax to county sales tax sources in 1999, with the school retaining status as a municipal subdivision of the state.[7] Washburn is governed by its own nine-member Board of Regents.[10]


Aerial view of Washburn campus in 1948
Class of 1900 in front of Rice Hall

Washburn University is governed by a nine-member board of regents. Three, who must be residents of the state of Kansas, are appointed by the governor. Three residents of the City of Topeka, one from each of the state senatorial districts, are appointed by the mayor. One is the mayor or a member of the governing body of the city designated by the mayor. The Shawnee County Commission appoints one member, who must be a resident of Shawnee County but not of the City of Topeka. The Kansas Board of Regents annually selects one of its members to serve on the Washburn Board. Members of the board (with the exception of the Kansas Board of Regents' appointee) serve staggered four-year terms.[10]


These persons have served as presidents or interim presidents of Washburn College (1869–1940), Washburn Municipal University of Topeka (1941–1952), and Washburn University (1952–present).[11]

Title Name Years
President Horatio Q. Butterfield[12] 1869–1870
President Peter McVicar 1871–1895
President George M. Herrick 1896–1901
President Norman Plass 1902–1908
President Frank Knight Sanders 1908–1914
President Parley P. Womer 1915–1931
President Philip C. King 1931–1941
Interim president Arthur G. Sellen 1941–1942
President Bryan S. Stoffer 1942–1961
President Harold E. Sponberg 1961–1965
President John W. Henderson 1965–1980
President John L. Green 1981–1988
President John Duggan 1988
Interim President Robert L. Burns 1988–1990
President Hugh L. Thompson 1990–1997
President Jerry Farley 1997–2022
Interim President Marshall Meek 2022–2023
President JuliAnn Mazachek 2023–present
15 presidents; 3 interims 154 years

Law school

Main article: Washburn University School of Law

Formed in 1903,[13] the Washburn School of Law was one of the first in the country to have a legal clinic where students are able to actively practice the legal profession. Today, it is in the minority of law schools to employ a full-time faculty for its law clinic.[citation needed] The Washburn School of Law had the highest pass rate of the Kansas bar examination of any law school in Kansas.[citation needed] The Washbum Law Library houses over 380,000 volumes and is the largest in the state.[14] Notable alumni include Bob Dole, Roy Wilford Riegle, Dennis Moore, Kay McFarland, Bill Kurtis, and Fred Phelps.


The main buildings of Washburn University are all dedicated to someone or are an important part of Washburn's history.[15]

Building name Function of building
Living Learning Center

Lincoln Hall

Housing and dining

Housing and dining

Memorial Union Conference rooms, Dining services, Ichabod Shop (Bookstore)
Stoffer Science Hall Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Computer Information Sciences, and Physics/Astronomy
Mabee Library Library, Washburn University Writing Center
Morgan Hall Departments of Mathematics, English, Communication, and Modern Languages
Student Recreation & Wellness Center Recreation activities
Garvey Fine Arts Center Departments of Music, Theatre, Philosophy, and Religious Studies
Petro Allied Health Center Athletics Department
Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center Alumni Association
Bennett Computer Center Information Technology Department, computer labs
Carnegie Hall Department of Education, Curriculum Resource Center, Deay Computer Lab
Art Building Art Department (painting, sculpting)
Carole Chapel Open to public, classroom
International House International programs, and Study Abroad programs
Benton Hall Leadership Institution, Center for Community Service, and School of Applied Studies
Henderson Learning Resources Center School of Business, Departments of History, Mass Media, and Sociology
Law School Building Washburn University School of Law
Foundation Building Washburn University Foundation


Main article: Washburn Ichabods

See also: Washburn Ichabods football and Washburn Ichabods men's basketball

The Washburn athletic teams are called the Ichabods. The university is a member of the NCAA Division II ranks, primarily competing in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) since the 1989–90 academic year. The Ichabods previously competed in the Central States Intercollegiate Conference (CSIC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1976–77 to 1988–89; in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) from 1972–73 to 1975–76; in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) from 1968–69 to 1971–72; in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIC) from 1940–41 to 1967–68 (which they were a member on a previous stint from 1923–24 to 1932–33); as an Independent from 1933–34 to 1939–40; and in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) from 1902–03 to 1922–23.

Washburn competes in 16 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis and track & field (indoor and outdoor); while women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball.

Athletic director

The current athletics director is Loren Ferré, who has held the position since 1996.


The "Ichabods" nickname is named after the university's contributor Ichabod Washburn, who was also the founder of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Prior to the 2013–14 season, the women's athletic teams were known as the "Lady Blues". On May 24, 2013, President Farley announced that all athletic teams will be known as the Ichabods for the first time in history.[16]

Greek life

Greek Life at Washburn University has existed since 1909. Currently, the four Interfraternity Council and the three Panhellenic Council organizations are housed on or near campus.

Interfraternity Council chapters Panhellenic Council chapters NPHC chapters Multicultural Greek Chapters

Campus attractions

Notable alumni

Main article: List of Washburn University alumni


  1. ^ "The Second Era of Washburn, 1915-1965" washburn.edu; retrieved August 9, 2023
  2. ^ Martha Imparato. "Washburn University History" (PDF). Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  3. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Archived from the original on February 21, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  4. ^ "Board of Regents Announces 2023 Fall Semester Enrollment" (PDF). September 27, 2023. Retrieved September 30, 2023.
  5. ^ "IPEDS-Washburn University of Topeka".
  6. ^ Washburn Athletics Identity Standards and Style Guide (PDF). August 15, 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d e "History". washburn.edu. Archived from the original on October 31, 2016. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  8. ^ "McDonald, Billy Ray "B.R."". The Dwight D. Eisenhower Foundation. 2000. Archived from the original on December 24, 2011. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
  9. ^ "Stories of the 1966 Topeka Tornado". washburn.edu. Archived from the original on December 5, 2021. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Board of Regents, Washburn University
  11. ^ "Meet the President". washburn.edu. Archived from the original on July 11, 2016. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  12. ^ "Welcome to Washburn". Washburn University website. Archived from the original on July 11, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2016. Past Presidents 1869 – 1870: Horatio Q. Butterfield
  13. ^ "Law School History". Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  14. ^ "Washburn Law Library". Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  15. ^ "Virtual Tour". washburn.edu.
  16. ^ "Washburn Athletics". Archived from the original on January 14, 2024. Retrieved November 25, 2013.