Page 1

Gracia Burnham Missionary shares her story of captivity Story by Cindy Rose


he Washburn Student Government Association and Christian Challenge sponsored an event at White Concert Hall with an address given by Gracia Burnham in the spring of 2012. Burnham gave a compelling and inspirational speech about her experience in captivity in the Philippine jungle that began in 2001 and lasted for more than a year. Burnham and her husband, Martin, had served as missionaries in the Philippines for 17 years while raising three children. They were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at a resort when they were kidnapped by a terrorist militant group, the Abu Sayyaf. During their ordeal, they were marched through jungles, slept on the ground with only the clothes on their backs or old dirty rice sacks. They suffered from exhaustion, illness and had little to eat. They saw some of their fellow hostages set free and others murdered. “As the days grew on and on, as we got hungrier and dirtier, as we suffered from lack of sleep because we could not get comfortable on the jungle floor, as we got dysentery and diarrhea, when there was no place to take a bath and no clean clothes to change into, I started feeling more like an animal than a human being,” said Burnham. In the end, during a skirmish between the Philippine military and the Abu Sayyaf, Burnham was wounded and her husband was killed. Since that time, Burnham has written two books and traveled around the country and other parts of the world telling her story. “[My husband] always knew what to say,” said Burnham. “I didn’t know what sort of man I was

married to. I knew he was a neat Christian guy, but I never understood, before our captivity, his Christlikeness, his thinking through things in a godly way.” Burnham also spoke about how her relationship with her captors changed over time. “I thought we were the good guys and the Abu Sayyaf were the bad guys at the beginning,” said Burnham. “It’s hard to forgive when you think you’re the good guy. When (we) finally realize we’re all the same, we can start to forgive others.” Burnham gave an update on some of her captors, who are now being held in a maximum security prison in Manila. “The Martin and Gracia Burnham Foundation are working with them, doing projects like fixing the roof of their barracks to show them love,” said Burnham. Burnham said her former captors send her letters and that her latest letter from a captor asked her to raise his two children. However, Burnham’s captors have not officially apologized. “I don’t know that he’d say he was sorry,” said Burnham. “He’s sorry he’s in jail. I’m not sure he’s sorry about his Jihad, but he wants more for his children.” The story about the Burnhams made headlines in the United States after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Burnham has been interviewed on several television programs since her return and continues to make appearances to spread the word of her story. She has written two books: “In the Presence of My Enemies” and “To Fly Again.” Both books are available at the Washburn University Bookstore.

Missionary 71

Mulvane Art Museum: More art friendly than ever Story by Tanner Ballengee


fter almost three months of being closed for renovations, the Washburn’s Mulvane Art Museum finally reopened to the public in February of 2012, with four new exhibits on display. The Mulvane, which is an accredited museum with the American Association of Museums, underwent roughly $300,000 worth of renovations that needed to be made to accommodate conditions required by the association for the artwork. The main renovations made were changes to the temperature and humidity control. “In a museum setting with a variety of mediums there is concern for temperature, so damage isn’t caused,” said Carol Emert, curator of collections and exhibitions of the Mulvane. “Temperature levels are very important to museums because if they are not maintained properly, damage can be caused to the artwork. The temperature needs to be around a constant 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with no spiking up or down. Humidity is important as well because too much or too little can cause damage. Humidity levels should be around 40 percent. If humidity is too high, mold can grow on the paper and paintings, and if it’s too low, artwork can expand or become brittle. It’s really important with borrowed art. In fact, they ask

for facility reports, telling them what we keep the temperature and humidity at.” To help control of humidity levels, a new boiler was installed, enabling the museum to produce steam all year round instead of just during the winter. Cindi Morrison, director of the Mulvane Museum, said a lot of the renovations that were made would not be seen in the museum since much of it will be in piping above the ceiling tiles. Managers of the Mulvane felt that winter break was the best time to start this project, since summer is typically the busiest season for the museum. “We have a show coming from the Charles Shultz Museum in California, so we’re having a family friendly show with lots of art camps and lots of stuff going on. We didn’t want to cancel that,” said Morrison. Morrison expressed how important these renovations were to the museum, to keep it accredited with American Association of Museums. “We’re extremely fortunate that the Board of Regents and Washburn believes how important this museum is to the university and the community,” said Morrison. “It’s showing how much we are a part of what happens here for students and faculty and people of all ages.”

Temporarily out of service. The Mulvane Art Museum was closed for renovations at the start of the 2012 spring semester. Since summer is typically the busiest time of year for the Mulvane, management decided winter break would be the ideal time for the renovations. The museum was finally reopened the first week of February with much improved environmental controls.

Photo by Kelly Andrews

s ic

m de ca A

No Name-Calling Week: Students and faculty take a stand against bullying

Story by Tanner Ballengee and Neil Thompson


ational “No Name-Calling Week” is a special event that takes place annually, and Washburn celebrated it in 2012 with an assortment of events, sponsored by OPEN. OPEN stands for open-minded, positive, equality and non-discriminated. OPEN is a LGBTQ friendly club in the sociology/anthropology department. For “No Name-Calling Week,” OPEN sponsored a presentation by Robert Minor, professor emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, entitled “Bullies, Name-callers & Their Victims” in the Henderson Learning Center. Then the film, “Cyberbully” was shown in the Kansas Room of the Union. “Cyberbully” is an ABC Family movie about a teenage girl who falls victim to harassment and abuse through social network sites. The movie shows how cyber bullying can really damage someone’s life. Resa Boydston, Social Justice League secretary and senior in sociology, helped bring the event to Washburn. “No Name Calling Week” is an event inspired by the James Howe book “Misfits,” said Boydston. “We felt it was a very important issue because of the continuing suicides of victims of bullying, whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or not, young people are taking their lives, and we feel this is unacceptable. No one should be tormented while they

are at school. One goes to school to learn, not become a victim. If these events can help just one student, then I feel like it’s a success.” OPEN has been a student organization for more than 10 years and is heavily involved in the Topeka community. Boydston believes events like “National No NameCalling Week” are important because they raise awareness in the community and show that words really do hurt. “That’s what hurts my heart so much,” said Boydston in regard to those who feel they have been tormented to the point of suicide. Washburn University also offers a “Safe Zone” program, which works to provide information about LGBTQ issues and raise awareness on campus. Professors can make their office a “Safe Zone” and become an “ally” by completing a threehour basic training session. Rizki Aljupri, junior business finance major originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, was able to attend some of 2010’s National “No-Name Calling Week” events, including a presentation by Faisal Alam, an openly gay Muslim. Aljupri said he liked the way that the speaker approached the controversial topic. “He presented his topic from a social perspective, not a religious one,” said Aljupri. “It’s good to raise awareness.”

“If these events can help just one student then I feel like it’s a success.” –Resa Boydston


No Name-Calling Week


es yT



a str

Illu t




HJ Template

Job # x12249

School xWashburn University

Special Instructions

7 01

MICS31001R Š2009 Herff Jones, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Odd Page Black Ink

Includes Spot Color(s)

Process 4-Color (CMYK)

Study of humanity Student anthropologist gets an early start Story by Rob Burkett

A Scholar in the making. Junior anthropology student, Beth Nech assembles field notes for her research. Nech was inspired by her trip to Prague, Czech Republic to begin studying Americans who identify as being of Czech descent, and comparing them to the native Czechs she encountered during her travels.

Photos by Rob Burkett


n the melting pot that is the United States, heritage started to plan out a study plan. With a large amount is an important component of how people identify of Midwestern towns containing populations that themselves. Understanding these different ethnic identify themselves as being of Czech descent, the and social groups is something that one student and two began the process of traveling the highways and professor have tried to come to terms with. back roads of the surrounding region, attending a Beth Nech, junior anthropology student, and Karen phenomena known as “Czech festivals.” Kapusta-Pofahl, lecturer in the sociology department, “They are really fascinating events, in which towns decided toward the end of the Spring 2010 semester take some of the more selective traditions of Czech to travel to Prague, Czech Republic, as part of a study culture and build entire celebrations around them,” abroad group. Exposure to the culture there had an impact on Nech and gave the two women an idea. “After having an awesome time there, we decided that we could use our experiences as part of a study,” said Nech. “We wanted to see how people who identify themselves as Czech back home compared to the native people of the mother country and what kind of traditions had carried over.” After returning to the United States, the two began the process of applying for a grant to conduct research. The process proved to be a trial in itself. “It’s just a lot of work that you have to put in to write a grant proposal,” No easy feat. Nech’s assortment of research materials illustrate just how deeply an anthropological researcher said Kapusta-Pofahl. “It must delve into the documents a culture. requires you to articulate what exactly you want to do said Kapusta-Pofahl. “They have all kinds of different and what kind of results you are hoping for. It’s worth ethnic foods and even Czech pageants where young doing after you figure out if there is something that women are judged on who is more Czech than the you really learn from a study.” other.” After submitting the grant proposal, Nech had to While the two spent most of the summer traveling take the next step in becoming qualified to participate around, the two haven’t come close to finishing yet in in the research project. Field school, as it is known, their process. The two are looking at being published is the process of becoming trained in the process in academic publications and even presenting at a of conducting anthropological research outside the conference in the spring. classroom setting. As a result, Nech spent part of the “It’s an exciting opportunity for Beth,” said Kapustasummer studying outside at excavation sites, while Pofahl. “It’s not common for a student to get published becoming adept at the process of taking ethnographical while they are an undergraduate study, so I think it field notes. will yield a lot of good results for both of us.” “It’s fun going out in the field, but the notes take a while to put together,” said Nech. “It’s not like taking notes in class and involves a lot more detail and work making observations.” After going through the field school, the two



Reviving Downtown Topeka. Washburn students, alumni and supporters from the Topeka area gathered at The Break Room for the Jayhawk Theatre Revival in Spring 2011. This event was sponsored by student media every year to help raise funds to restore one of Topeka’s most-treasured landmarks, the Jayhawk Theatre.

Photo by Josh Rouse

Creative Fundraising Making a difference on and off campus Story by Michelle Boltz


ashburn student organizations have a long history of finding creative ways to raise funds for their departments and various charities. The Athletic Training Student Society sold concessions on Washburn’s campus during the Sunflower State Games for three weekends in July to help their members attend national symposiums and seminars. In 2012, they went to the National Athletic Training meeting in St. Louis, and raised more than $2,000. “The challenge with fundraising is to find ways for the work that is equal to the amount of effort you put into it,” said John Burns, the director of the Athletic Training program. “Invest your time and finances well.” The Washburn Wind Ensemble and Washburn Student Government Association helped organize a one-time fundraising event that helped rebuild the sheet music library at Joplin High School after a tornado nearly wiped out its entire sheet music collection. A benefit for the Joplin High School Band took place at White Concert Hall in November 2011. “Everything they play is the curriculum, bands build up sheet music over the years,” said Mark Norman, director of bands at Washburn. “It’s very valuable and hard to value and replace.” Norman dressed up as John Philip Sousa to match the special theme of the benefit. A silent auction was also held during the event. Three-thousand dollars

were raised to put in a special account at Shattinger Music Company, who also donated to Joplin High School. “Other college and high school bands can also contribute, as well,” said Norman. “This gives Joplin High School the opportunity to choose which sheet music they need. The students at Washburn really wanted to help Joplin, and we were glad to do it.” Student Media was involved in two major fundraisers every year. The second annual Night of Media Merriment was held Dec. 7, 2011, at the Ramada Inn Downtown. Local musician Jake Hodge and local band Slow Ya Roll provided entertainment for the evening. Several area businesses donated items for gift baskets for the silent auction. This event was usually held just before Finals Week in the fall. Seniors Elisa Gayle and Autumn Kirchner helped organize both of Student Media’s fundraising events. Night of Media Merriment raised $900 in 2010 to help equip what was once the photo darkroom into a new digital media lab in the Student Media office, with new computers and software. The second event student media sponsored was the Jayhawk Theatre Revival, which helped restore one of Downtown Topeka’s most treasured landmarks. “This year’s theme is ‘The Biggest Washburn Party Ever,’” said Kirchner. “It’s a good bonding experience for Student Media and it’s another way to create awareness.”

Creative fundraising


The Sociology of Art Story by Jordan Loomis and Cody Lohse e


s students begin to get back in the swing of school every semester, several events happen like clockwork—students meet up with old friends, catch up about their breaks and discuss their classes. Then follows the important question, “Who are you taking that with?” Students who have spent several semesters on campus have probably heard one name come up on several occasions: John Paul, associate professor of both sociology and art. While Paul was in high school, he had no intentions of being a professor, going to college, or even graduating high school. His high school counselor told him he wasn’t college material and should become a refrigerator mechanic. “Of course I got pissed off and flipped over his desk,” said Paul. After high school, Paul finally found his inspiration for college. He was working maintenance when his boss asked him what he was doing there. Paul simply replied, “I’m weed-eating like you told me to.” His boss said he should be in college because this kind of work will make him “an old man” before his time. “His words meant more to me than probably anyone else. His words I trusted,” said Paul. He later received a Master of Art from Goddard College and eventually a doctorate in sociology from Oklahoma State University, and is now teaching both sociology and art at Washburn. Paul believes his Drawing One course is a great way for beginning artists to delve deeper into their major. “It’s great to be in an environment where one can be inspired by the work of another and this, in turn creates a cycle of development, stimulation and encouragement that grows throughout the semester,” said Paul.


John Paul

Teaching two different courses can be difficult, but Paul was well practiced in both matters of academia and artwork before taking on the challenges of a second department. “This is my third semester teaching Drawing One, and across these semesters I’ve had the students work in replication,” said Paul, during the spring semester of 2012. “While this is helpful in learning drawing, I’ve found it can quickly become repetitive for students who aren’t stretching their own creative imaginations by altering the image and producing their own works,” said Paul. During his second semester teaching Drawing One, Paul had to adapt his teaching tactics. “I added more individualized projects that challenged students to come up with their own ideas, and they did not disappoint,” said Paul. The course is divided into equal parts of experimentation in drawing techniques, replication and personalized creative projects. With the class meeting two times a week, Paul’s students tend to move quickly through the material. “Our first major assignment is approaching rapidly,” said Paul, “We’re doing a large-scale portraiture.” Having helped with many departmental changes already, Paul still had a few new ideas he was waiting to unveil. Throughout his time in the art department, Paul has drawn inspiration from his students, and has high hopes for the future of the department. “Hopefully, there will be more experimentation and the continued production of creative work,” said Paul. “I hope to revive a ‘sociology-of-art’ course in the future as a way to ‘blend’ my core department with my secondary one in art.”

The best of both worlds. John Paul is a professor of both sociology and art at Washburn, and has created for himself an environment where he can enjoy being inspired both academically and artistically. The spring of 2012 marked his third semester teaching in both departments.

Photo by Mike Goehring

Michael McGuire Story by Sam Sayler

Photo by Cody Lohse


or Michael McGuire, the mind is a puzzle. Human behavior and its conditions are difficult to understand at best. Since coming to Washburn University in the fall of 2002, McGuire, an associate professor of psychology, passed a unique understanding of the human condition to his students and the university honors program to help solve these puzzles. “If I have to teach something, I have to re-learn it,” said McGuire. “I like re-learning and imparting that knowledge onto students, helping them solve puzzles with critical thinking.” Growing up in the small town of Lawrence, Ind., with his father and brother, McGuire never imagined psychology as a possible career path. While going to

Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., McGuire had initially studied math, before moving onto theatre and, eventually, the study of human behavior. “I lost interest [in math] after my first year,” said McGuire. “Plus, I had other things going on. I was on the wrestling team, I was in a fraternity and I was taking these other courses by fabulous professors that really interested me, like theatre.” Despite feeling that acting came more naturally to him than math, a financially uncertain future and the demanding requirements of Wabash College led McGuire to settle on psychology as a major. “I was thinking about how successful I would be afterwards,” said McGuire. “At the same time, I was taking a bunch of psychology courses. I can’t think

Professor specializes in introspection of any moment in my waking day that I’m not using some aspect of psychology. For a lot of people, there’s something intrinsic about psychology that draws them to it.” After receiving his bachelor’s degree at Wabash, McGuire studied for his master’s at Idaho State University and received his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. Along the way, McGuire changed his field from clinical psychology to experimental cognitive psychology “Clinical psychology is, I think, the standard perception of a psychologist as one who tries to help people by talking to them and using some kind of therapeutic approach,” said McGuire. “Cognitive psychology is basically a sub-discipline of psychology in which investigators try to understand how the mind works, with an emphasis on learning, memory and higher cognitive processes.” Once he received his Ph.D., McGuire worked on a post-doctoral teaching fellowship at Northern Michigan University. The program allowed McGuire to teach 75 percent of a professor’s load with instructors in the classroom to provide feedback. Despite meeting his wife there, McGuire had trouble handling the frigid Lake Superior temperature. Nonetheless, McGuire sees the experience as integral in helping his teaching process. After applying for teaching positions, Washburn was one of the first universities to respond to and indicate interest in McGuire. With Lawrence, Ind., being a relatively-small town, McGuire felt Topeka was a calm shift. “I was really scared about getting a job,” said McGuire. “I jumped right on it. I grew up in the Midwest, so I felt very comfortable when I came to Topeka.” As a specialty, McGuire is interested in metacognition, which he describes as cognitions about cognitions, studying people’s introspection and reflection abilities. “At a very superficial level, it’s thoughts about thought,” said McGuire. “How well do I think about things? How well do I memorize things?” In the past few years, McGuire lead Washburn’s honors program. With an interest in honors culture, McGuire felt his experience as an undergraduate might

make him a suitable candidate to head the program when he applied. “When I went to college, we didn’t have an honors program,” said McGuire. “Wabash College was a private, all-male institution and they had high standards to get in. I thought that I might have a good idea about honors based on my undergraduate experience.” Since coming to Washburn, McGuire gained the admiration of his many peers and superiors, including Dave Provorse, chair of the psychology department. “He was very knowledgeable in his subject area,” said Provorse. “I’ve always seen him as very invested in his teaching and invested in his research. Invested in his students, in general.” In addition to his work at Washburn, Provorse is impressed by McGuire’s activities and deeds done outside of the classroom. “I think another strong quality at the university is his commitment to service,” said Provorse. “He’s been involved in lots of committee work, faculty senate, all sorts of extra things in addition to being a professor.” Beyond that, Provorse also held McGuire’s ability to balance work and time with his wife and four daughters—Mary, 9; Molly, 6; Maggie, 3; and Mallory, 1—in high regard. “Anyone who can manage that is a special person,” said Provorse. Grace Hildenbrand, senior communications major and honors student, appreciates McGuire for helping her figure out a course schedule with the honors program and getting people involved in the community and conferences. “A lot of times, it’s hard to know which courses to take, and he’s very good about coming up with a plan, making sure you’re on track, etc. in order to make sure you complete the honors program on time,” said Hildenbrand. Hildenbrand also values how McGuire allows the honors students to carve their own paths in the program. “Whenever we have meetings, he is there to lead them, but he also allows some of the student officers to take in leadership roles,” said Hildenbrand.

Michael Mcguire


The Washburn Experience Class equips freshmen for life at WU By Tricia Peterson


ashburn designed a new class in the fall of 2011 to further introduce freshmen to what the university has to offer, and help get them involved in campus activities as part of the First Year Experience program at Washburn. The course, The Washburn Experience (WU-101, formerly IS-110), aims to help new students to develop plans that lead to graduation and offers a success team to help them along the way. The success team consists of five people: the lead faculty professor, a personal librarian, a personal academic advisor and two peer educators. At Washburn’s FYE page,, there’s a list of course requirements and more information on becoming a peer educator. “We offer input when needed and we kind of help to stimulate class discussion,” said Shelbie Konkel, a double major in history and political science who was a peer educator in the spring 2012. “If students are being reserved about sharing an experience or giving an answer to a question, we will maybe share our opinions, experiences or our thoughts on the matter to kind of let them know that there are other students thinking similar things.” Alan Bearman, the interim dean of libraries, was part of developing WU-101 and taught the first semester of the class in the fall of 2011. “We know the transition from high school to university is very difficult,” said Bearman. “I think that Washburn wants its students to succeed, and we recognize the transition as a big deal. One of the


Job # x12249

things that makes Washburn a great place is that we want everyone to graduate and this program has been shown to work across the country.” Common themes in the class include avoiding plagiarism, the exploration of study skills, wellness and technology. In addition, each student is required to attend a minimum of seven events around campus, called passport activities. These events could be plays, civic activities, lectures, athletic events and other activities. This portion of the course was designed to enrich the college experience, introduce students to new things and help students establish connections with their peers. “This class is really focused on helping students succeed in all aspects of their collegiate life,” said John Dahlstrand, assistant dean of student success and retention. “We want them to get connected to the resources to help them academically, and we want students who start at Washburn to graduate from Washburn and be successful along the way. We can equip them with skills to help them with that with WU-101.” Dahlstrand taught the course in spring 2012, and believed the feedback had been positive to that point. He and Bearman looked forward to further developing WU-101 and the FYE at Washburn. “The student responses were overwhelmingly positive,” said Bearman. “GPAs were stronger and it was a good semester, but there are a lot of ways we can make it better next year.”


School xWashburn University

Special Instructions



MICS31001L ©2009 Herff Jones, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Even Page Black Ink

Includes Spot Color(s)

Process 4-Color (CMYK)

Washburn in nutshell. John Dahlstrand, assistant dean of student success and retention, taught The Washburn Experience in the spring of 2012. The class was designed to equip incoming students with the knowledge and experiences necessary to thrive at Washburn.

Photo by Cody Lohse

Outstanding achievement. Recipients of the Who’s Who Among Students award stand on the steps in the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center. The award was created in 1934 by a student, Pettus Randell, at the University of Alabama. Randell was so heavily involved on his campus that he was nominated for several honors. But he couldn’t pay the entry fees, so he created an award that wouldn’t require a fee.

Ph Photo Pho courtesy cou ourtesy Washburn Washb bur bu ur Review archives

Who’s Who Among Students Students uden honored by award with long history udent

By Fatima Oubaid


ashburn held its annual Who’s Who Among Students award ceremony in the spring of 2012. The awards helped recognize students who not only kept a decent GPA, but also those who were active around campus and throughout the community. Over time, the award has become one of the most highly-regarded and longstanding honors program in the nation. A student at the University of Alabama, Pettus Randall, created the Who’s Who Among Students award in 1934. He was so involved with campus organizations and academically successful that he was nominated for many different honors, but due to his financial situation, couldn’t pay entry fees for all of his nominations. So he created a program to recognize students for their success that wouldn’t require an entry fee. A Washburn University faculty or staff member makes nominations for the award each year. A student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and have completed 88 credit hours to be nominated for the award. The nominated student must then fill out an application and résumé. “I think the most important part of being academically successful is just making time to get your work done,” said Raul Guevara, a senior graduate and a Who‘s Who recipient. “If you don’t find time to do your own work, you’ll never get it done because no one’s going to find it for you.”

This year, there were over 70 nominations that were submitted and reviewed by the Who’s Who selection committee. Only 44 of those student nominations were selected to receive the award. “We’re not just looking for students who have excelled academically, but also students who truly have given back to the community,” said Jessica Neumann, director of Student Activities and Greek Life and member of the Who’s Who selection committee. “Students who not only participate on campus but throughout the community, as well, are most likely going to be chosen.” The Who’s Who Among Students award became a symbol of excellence and determination. Students who were presented the award were examples of success and leaders of the community. They not only do their best academically, but they also give back to their community, wherever they can. The committee looked for students who they believed would apply what they had learned in their experiences at Washburn toward their everyday lives. Getting involved in some of the many activities and student organizations at Washburn helped in building those connections and life skills for the future. “Learning is for a lifetime,” said Billie Jean Graham, the speaker at the Who’s Who ceremony and a former Washburn graduate. “What a person chooses to learn from their mistakes and how they let failure affect them determines whether or not they will be successful.”

Who’s Who


Debbie Wagner Local artist, cancer survivor paints thousands of sunrises Photo courtesy of Debbie Wagner Story by Jordan Loomis


ife as an artist is meant to be one of complete passion. So what happens when life gets in the way of that passion? As local artist Debbie Wagner put it—one must simply start over. Wagner, from Bennington, Kan., is a loving mother of three, with her youngest daughter, Audrey, currently studying at Oklahoma City University for a BFA in acting. Her older son, Grant, works as the executive chef for the Plaza, and her oldest daughter, Melissa, worked as a visual manager for the Gap. Before her surgeries, Wagner was an avid reader and a doting wife... but life unexpectedly changed everything in 2002, when she was diagnosed with two pear-sized brain tumors. Months later, Wagner underwent surgery—once in September and then again in October. Deb Wagner said that upon recovery, she recovered an old part of herself. “I woke up one morning in early December of 2005, looked out the window and just was in awe of just how beautiful the sunrise truly was,” said Wagner. Wagner decided that, because of her loss in the ability to read full novels, balance a checkbook, and sleep throughout an entire night, she would instead begin a new diary—a diary of sunrises. That diary, as Wagner described, consists of an estimated 19,000 sunset paintings—one for almost every day since she recovered from her surgeries. “I felt invigorated again,” said Wagner. Wagner’s husband, Don, was by her side throughout the entire ordeal. This year marked their 30th anniversary. “Life throws curve balls sometimes, and even though we have experienced some trauma, the stories Deb has received, along with the request for her sunrises, have shown us how lucky we have been to be able to have a life together without tragedy,” said Don Wagner. Years later, Wagner was still waking every morning to the vibrant colors of the sunrise, and a gallery in Salina, Kan., took notice. “They contacted me and wanted to do a show on my sunrises,” said Wagner, “so I picked three sunrises from each season.” She then matted and framed each sunrise and submitted the 12 that represented the year of 2006.

“I hadn’t realized how the sunrise was moving back and forth along the horizon,” said Wagner. “It was just beautiful.” When Wagner was first approached about the sale and purchase of her sunrises, she was welcoming. “People have asked me ‘How can you sell these?’ and I’m like, ‘Why would I keep them?’” said Wagner. “I’ve gotten my benefit by creating the sunset, once I’ve done that, it’s done what’s needed for me.” With time, however, Wagner’s greatest assurance in her sunrises was the stories she was graced with. “My story is finished for the day with every new sunrise that I create,” said Wagner. When someone wished to purchase one of her sunrises, Wagner describes the transaction as the sunrise becoming a new story—whether it was a wedding or a burial. “There’s just too many reasons people would want them,” said Wagner. “It changes the meaning for me every time as lives merge together, its how life goes on. A sunrise takes on a different meaning for everybody.” With Wagner’s publicity and success (MSNBC, the Today Show and Hatteberg’s People), her optimism for the future only grew with time. “It’s an honor and its humbling,” said Wagner, “but it is also a great responsibility.” With Wagner’s heartfelt story of surviving her brain tumors inspiring hundreds, Wagner felt a responsibility to respond to each and every request, email or “thank you” note she received. “I want to do it right, that’s the only thing I’m sure of” said Wagner. She spent a portion of every day dedicating her time to responding to as many voices as she could. “It’s difficult for me to handle all of these requests, but I want to,” said Wagner, “Each story is incredible, a book itself unfolding for me, and I’m so inspired that I know others would be, too.” To Wagner, a woman whose time and dedication to a diary she started in the wake of her rediscovery has inspired many, such a simple act has become a daily routine. “I never think ‘should I do this?’ I just need to,” said Wagner. “If I have a busy day and can’t accomplish any other kind of art, at least I know that I’ve accomplished my sunrise.”

Ben Coates Professor retires after 42 years of teaching Photo courtesy Washburn Review archivves Story by Sarah Roth


very university has certain professors that everyone seems to like. Ben Coates was among those in the Washburn sociology department. However, after nearly 42 years of teaching, Coates retired from Washburn at the end of the Spring 2012 semester. Coates began his career at Washburn University in 1964, earning his bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Later, he attended both the University of Kansas and the University of Southern California and received his masters. Coates then returned to Washburn University in 1970 and began teaching Intro to Sociology, American Social Problems and Criminology. Coates started out in the Criminal Justice Department and has experienced big changes through the University, such as the ever-expanding student population, from only a few hundred to the record 7,303 that enrolled in the fall of 2011. He’s seen the introduction of the School of Nursing, School of Business and the Allied Health Department. Between teaching and spending time with family, Coates also worked for the State of Kansas for 28 years in corrections, as well as social welfare, and worked on the parole board. While working for the state, he wrote the sentencing guidelines that are still in effect today. “Ben is a great human being and a great scholar,”

said John Paul, fellow sociology professor and friend. “I’ve always admired his compassion for others and his dedication to improving society through research and service. He has dedicated much of his life to the service of others and to the amelioration of social problems.” Coates had a very unique approach in the classroom, and tailored his classes to each student. For example, if a student was not good at taking tests, he put more emphasis on the written assignments, group projects and papers. “In my time at Washburn, Ben has served as a mentor to me,” said Paul. “I find his humor, personal experience and intelligence inspirational. I often seek him out for intellectual discussions, advice and stories of good cheer.” As his last semester at Washburn came to a close, Coates planned to continue following Washburn University sports. He volunteered with the Coalition of the Death Penalty, and in the fall he planned to travel to Europe with his wife. He also planned to continue teaching every now and then. “Washburn and my wife are my greatest love,” said Coates. “I’m very proud of Washburn. This university has helped me to define who I am.”

Sociology professor


le th A



2012 Washburn University KAW Yearbook  

Pages 73-96

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you