Topeka, Kan. – Washburn University will hold its spring commencement ceremonies this week with the largest graduating class in the history of the school.  Ceremonies will begin with two ceremonies for Washburn Tech this evening with the university holding four ceremonies on Saturday.

             All of the commencement ceremonies are held in Lee Arena.  In addition, there are two separate awards ceremonies which will take place in White Concert Hall.  See the full list below.

             The university will also be granting three honorary doctorates during Saturday’s ceremonies.  The three recipients --  Kristin S. Rinne, Mark E. Yardley and   Cynthia G. Heath -- are being honored for their accomplishments in the community and their commitment to Washburn.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Washburn Tech

Commencement Ceremonies

Location: Lee Arena

- Ceremonies at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Washburn University

Award Ceremonies

Location: White Concert Hall

- 8 a.m. -- School of Applied Studies Certificate and Awards Ceremony

- 10:30 a.m. -- School of Nursing Undergraduate Recognition and Awards Pinning Ceremony


Washburn University

Commencement Ceremonies

Location: Lee Arena

 - 9:30 a.m. -- School of Applied Studies

-  12:30 p.m. --College of Arts and Sciences

-   3:30 p.m. -- School of Business and School of Nursing

-   6:30 p.m. -- School of Law

      The Washburn University commencement ceremonies will also be Livestreamed. To view the live streams, please go to the Washburn Video Central YouTube page the day of the ceremony. Once there, you will find the videos toward the top of the page in a section titled Upcoming live streams. Once the streams are live viewers will find the video at the top of the page.

      Washburn’s Video Central YouTube page is at:



Presented at the College of Arts and Sciences Ceremony – 12:30 p.m.

Kristin S. Rinne, Honorary Doctor of Science

     A native Kansan, Kris Rinne graduated from Bern High School in Bern, Kansas in 1972, and received her bachelor's degree with an emphasis in math from Washburn University in 1976. At Washburn, Rinne was active in women's basketball, the WU Pep Band and was a member of Phi Kappa Phi. While her original goal had been to become a high school math teacher and basketball coach, Richard Shermoen, a Washburn professor, arranged an interview for her with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, and she was put on a path to a nearly 40-year career as one of the top female executives in wireless telecommunications.

      Rinne held a variety of leadership positions at Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems, Cingular and eventually AT&T, where she retired in 2014 as the senior vice president of network technologies. During her career, Rinne and her team were pioneers in the evolution, development and implementation of such wireless network technologies as smartphones, tablets and high-speed LTE services. In her final role at AT&T, she was responsible for leading the team that planned the technology evolution of AT&T’s wireless network as well as its global IP backbone. Rinne had been involved in many industry firsts, including the world's first wide-scale launch of a universal mobile telecommunication/high-speed downlink packet access system in 2005, the initial iPhone launch in 2007 and the distributed architecture for 4G LTE in 2011. She served as chairperson of the board of governors at 3G (later 4G and 5G) Americas, LLC, and the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions board.

      In 2011, she was named "The Most Influential Woman in Wireless" by Fierce Wireless and remained in their top 10 list annually until her retirement. She was inducted into the Wireless Hall of Fame in 2013 and into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2014. She currently serves on the board of directors for Ericsson and Synchronoss.

      Rinne was honored as a Washburn Alumni Fellow in 2006 and joined the Washburn University Foundation board of trustees in 2012 including serving as a director from 2014 to 2018 and on the development and audit committees. She has been a member of the Washburn Women's Venture Partners since 2009 and became chair in 2015. Through both WWVP and her own philanthropy, Rinne has helped secure financial support for numerous priorities at Washburn and has been an especially significant supporter of empowering women leaders and minority women in STEM.

      Rinne lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and, besides her Washburn service, enjoys singing in the Johnson Ferry Baptist Church choir, walking and watching college sports.


Presented at the School of Business Ceremony – 3:30 p.m.

Mark E. Yardley, Honorary Doctor of Commerce

      A native Topekan, Mark Yardley earned a bachelor of business administration with an emphasis in accounting from Washburn University in 1977, graduating summa cum laude. While at Washburn he was a member and treasurer of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, and in April 1977, he was honored by the Financial Executives Institute as the outstanding accounting graduate at Washburn.

      While a student at Washburn, Yardley worked part-time as a sort supervisor for United Parcel Service. Upon graduation, he joined a national public accounting firm, Fox & Co., where he worked for seven years, holding several auditing positions including as a manager in the audit department. Yardley returned to join the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka as director of internal audit in 1984, where he has spent the rest of his career. During his 32 years at FHLBank, Yardley went on to serve as chief financial officer, executive vice president, chief risk officer and ultimately as president and chief executive officer beginning in 2017. In that role, Yardley has led nearly 250 employees to serve member financial institutions in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma, lending hundreds of billions of dollars toward meeting the liquidity and funding needs of members, a portion of which went toward the completion of affordable housing and for economic development initiatives.

      A certified public accountant, Yardley is a member of the Kansas Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He currently serves as treasurer of Topeka Bible Church, a position he has held for over 30 years. He serves as an elected director on the chairs’ council of the Greater Topeka Partnership, where he has served as treasurer since the GTP’s formal inception in 2018. He was selected for honorary membership in the business honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma, by the Washburn University chapter in May 2010, and was named the 2018 Alumni Fellow of the School of Business.

      Yardley joined the Washburn University Foundation board of trustees in 2014, became a director in 2015, and has served as chair of the audit committee and as part of the executive committee. Yardley and his wife, Sheree, have given generously to Washburn University, establishing expendable and endowed business scholarship funds and donating to many university priorities such as the student emergency fund, softball field improvement project, the Welcome Center, the Indoor Athletic Facility and the School of Business Dean’s Fund for Excellence.

     He and his wife Sheree live in Berryton, Kansas, and have two grown children and six grandchildren. In his spare time, he heads up a running group at FHLBank and is a classic car enthusiast.


Presented at the School of Law Ceremony – 6:30 p.m.

Cynthia G. Heath, Honorary Doctor of Law

      Cynthia Heath graduated from Washburn University with a bachelor’s degree in 1971. She majored in history and graduated magna cum laude with departmental honors. She was a member of Delta Gamma, NONOSO women’s honor society, Spirit Squad, Angel Flight, student government and the gymnastics team, winning a national vaulting event championship her freshman year.

      After graduating, she taught social studies at her high school alma mater, Topeka West High School, and coached volleyball and gymnastic there. She earned her master of education (summa cum laude) from Kansas State University before changing focus and earning her juris doctor from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law in 1982. After graduation, she worked for the Lewis Rice law firm, subsequently joined Emerson Electric Co. as its employee benefits counsel and rose to the position of vice president for executive compensation. At Emerson, she was a founding member of its women leadership networking group and continued consulting for the company even following her retirement in 2016.

      Actively involved in her local community, while in Missouri Heath served as board chair of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, board member of Action for Autism and development committee member for Marian Middle School. Since relocating to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2020 she became founding member of her residential community’s international club and serves as chair of its service committee. She is also a deeply engaged alumna of her alma maters. For Washington University in St. Louis, she served as a member of the law school building campaign, annually supports the David J. Heath and Cynthia G. Heath Honor Scholarship, was named honorary initiate to the Order of the Coif in 2000 and earned a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015.

      At Washburn, Heath has served as a foundation trustee since 2007 and a director since 2009. She has led the board as chair and currently serves on the directors & trustees, compensation and development committees, the latter of which she also chaired. She is a founding member of Washburn Women’s Venture Partners, serving as its first chair, and has made significant philanthropic contributions to the history department, Mulvane Art Museum, scholarships for first-year students, endowed scholarships at the university and law school and was instrumental in raising funds for a new home for the law school.

      Washburn honored Heath in 2013 with the Lilla Day Monroe Award and Athletics Hall of Fame recognition, in 2015 as an honorary initiate to the Order of the Coif at the law school, in 2016 with the history department Clio award and recognition as an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Washburn University School of Law Alumni Association, and in 2017 as a Washburn University Alumni Fellow.

      She met her late husband, David Heath, ba ’70, jd ’76, at Washburn, and has two daughters and five grandchildren.


For further information, contact:

Patrick M. Early, APR
Director of Public Relations
Telephone: (785) 670-1711
Cell: (717) 385-1119





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