TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Washburn University faculty held a retirement reception for Dr. Jerry Farley, Monday afternoon in Memorial Union. Dr. Farley will retire as Washburn University President on Friday, September, 30.
“Dr. Farley, you have left an impressive mark on this University and touched the lives of all of us that have had the privilege of working alongside of you.” Shelly Buhler, Chair Washburn Board of Regents.
“It’s a real joy to be here today. Thank you for coming. It’s humbling for Susan and I to see how many of you are here today. I recognize the primary reason is, the food was a big draw. Neither Susan or I were Ichabods by birth. We chose to be Kansans 25 years ago and we never changed our minds.” Dr. Jerry Farly, outgoing Washburn University President.
Dr. Jerry Farley was born in Tipton, Oklahoma where his father owned and ran a service station. In 1963 Jerry began his college education at the University of Oklahoma to study finance and accounting. He was the first of five siblings to attend college and became the first in his family to graduate.
After graduation in 1968 Farley accepted a position in the Bursar’s office that eventually led him to become the chief financial officer at OU.
Farley was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War which halted his work at OU. The Army accepted him into the drill sergeant academy. Farley finished the program at the academy as the No. 1 student. His roommates finished 2,3,4 because of the help he gave them. “I’m still proud of that,” Farley said.
After graduation, Farley was assigned to stay in the drill sergeant academy to teach and develop lesson plans. “I really became a military man at the time,” Farley said. “I worked with some of the best people I’ve ever been around. They were top notch, and I learned a lot from them.”
After his service, Farley returned to his job at OU, enrolled in the university’s MBA program and aspired for bigger things. He held several roles at OU for the next 27 years. In 1974 he became controller at OU and in 1981 he became associate vice president for administrative affairs.
Susan and Jerry Farley were married on January 1, 1980.
He joined Oklahoma State University in 1986 as vice president of business and finance. He returned to OU in 1989 and held two vice presidential positions.
In July 1997, Farley heard about the Washburn job from a Washburn graduate who worked at OU. Farley was on a trip in Washington, D.C., and working near the firm managing Washburn’s presidential search. He walked in unscheduled and talked to the search committee.
“But I was still thinking, ‘President of a university, do I really want to do that? Do I know what that involves?’ The committee thought so and the regents offered him the job. Farley became the 16th President of Washburn University on July 1, 1997.
A quarter century brought enumerable changes to Washburn. The physical landscape is the most visible, but the mark he left on the academic programming, the financial practices and his engagement with alumni might even last longer than any building.
Farley will be taking on the role of president emeritus with a focus on fundraising and international student recruitment at Washburn University.
During his time as the longest-serving president in Washburn University’s 158-year history, Farley had a significant impact on the nature of the campus. He returned the campus to a more traditional college experience by adding multiple residence halls. In addition, he championed the addition of Washburn University Institute of Technology to the Washburn family in 2008. He also led the effort to add new and expanded spaces for teaching and attracted the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Center to campus, which allowed Washburn to add multiple world-class forensic programs to the academic portfolio.
Farley also had a significant role in the community including serving on multiple local boards and taking a role in economic development as one of the co-founders of Go Topeka, now the community development arm of the Greater Topeka Partnership.
“It has been my great honor to serve Washburn as president,” Farley said. “Susan has served right alongside me and we have been blessed with great colleagues and a highly supportive community.
Farley has served as President of SACUBO and Chair of the Board of Directors of NACUBO. He is the recipient of NACUBO’s Daniel Robinson award in accounting and the NACUBO award for Professional Development. He holds a B.B.A., M.B.A. and Ph.D. all from the University of Oklahoma, and is a C.P.A. He has authored or co-authored numerous articles and books in his field. He has served on local and state boards for United Way, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts, Kansas Society of CPA’s, state and local Chambers of Commerce and economic development corporations. He is past Chair of the Topeka Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Security Benefit Funds Board, Westar Energy and CoreFirst Bank. He was inducted into the Topeka Business and Oklahoma Higher Education Halls of Fame and is a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow.