Thanks to our generous donors, this project has reached it's goal. Any additional gifts will go toward a scholarship fund for veterans attending Washburn University.
A Military-Friendly University
Washburn is a steadfastly veteran- and military-friendly campus proud to be the first in Kansas to earn the designation of Purple Heart University in recognition of its continued service to veterans and members of the military. It also regularly receives the highest possible Military Friendly® status for its commitment, effort and success in creating opportunity for the military community. In addition, Washburn maintains a highly-regarded Military Success Center and a full-time Military Transition Coordinator devoted solely to providing support to members of the military who come to Washburn to further their educations.
A History of Service and Commemoration
Born in the Civil War and originally named in honor of the president who led the country through it, Washburn has long been a center of military service and commemoration. Faculty and staff organized an ambulatory company and the campus was a Student Army Training Corps site during WWI. The University made the conversion to Navy pilot and officer training in World War II and built housing specifically for GI Bill veterans who swelled enrollment post-war. Its student center was christened “Memorial Union” to honor those who gave their lives in war, and today Washburn is home to five war memorials dedicated to veterans.
The centerpiece is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the heart of campus near Morgan Hall. Erected in 1988, this monument honors the 47 Washburn students who died in the Vietnam War. It is a main site of Vietnam War remembrance in Topeka and hosts Veteran’s Day gatherings and other celebrations. However, after nearly 35 years the foundation is beginning to fail and the memorial slab has significantly weathered. In light of this, the veteran community at Washburn has expressed a desire to take this as an opportunity to upgrade the site and create a true center for veteran remembrance on campus.
The Proposed Memorial
Championed by Washburn University’s veteran community, former U.S. Army drill sergeant President Jerry Farley, the Military Success Center and the Washburn Beautification Committee, the new proposed memorial will build upon and expand campus’ existing Vietnam Veterans Memorial to create a stunning new site.
• The existing stone plaque will be honorably retired to Topeka Cemetery where no such memorial exists.
• In its place will be a nine-foot-tall standing black granite stone bearing all 47 names of those who departed Washburn for military service in Vietnam and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
• Alongside this, seven additional standing black stones will commemorate each of the U.S. military’s six branches of service plus one additional in recognition of the many nurses who also served and gave their lives.
• These black stones will arrange around a sculpted bronze Fallen Soldier figure at the center, with a memorial plaque telling the story of Washburn University’s military veterans.
• These stones will be set within a plaza, with free-standing flags to our nation, our state, our university, MIA/KIA and more as appropriate.
• Benches within the plaza and adjacent walking paths will lend themselves to high visibility and traffic while maintaining an atmosphere of solemnity, pride and commemoration.
Double Your Impact - A Fundraising Challenge from President Jerry Farley
President Jerry Farley has announced that he and his wife, Susan, are personally making a lead gift of $50,000 to match donations toward the veterans memorial project.
Farley, who was himself a drill sergeant and drill sergeant instructor in the U.S. Army, has made this project a personal priority and is asking alumni and friends of Washburn to join him in realizing the vision of an expanded and updated new veterans memorial.
“Washburn has a long history of both military service and honoring those who served,” Farley said. “We are so proud of our veteran-alumni. So when the subject of updating our veterans memorial came up, Susan and I wanted to make our personal contribution to ensuring they have a site and a memorial commensurate with their sacrifice.”
Your gift to help create this new veteran’s memorial in the center of Washburn University’s campus will have a profound and lasting impact. It will elevate our memorialization of Washburn University students lost in Vietnam. It will create a site of reflection and a nexus for veteran or military-related events and commemorations. It will help educate generations of Washburn students and visitors about the sacrifice of our military veterans. And it will stand as a physical representation of Washburn University’s eternal promise to honor and support those who served. Gifts exceeding the goal of $140,000 will go toward a scholarship fund for veterans attending Washburn University.