Topeka, Kan. – Washburn University President Jerry Farley issued a statement today recognizing the extraordinary service of Blanche C. Parks as the longest-serving regent in Washburn University history.

       Parks, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Washburn, began as a member of the Board of Regents in 1993 and served continuously until May 2022.  A recent move out of her previous State Senatorial District required her to resign her seat.  Under state law, mayoral appointees to the Washburn Board of Regents must reside in the district they represent.

        “Blanche has been an outstanding contributor to the board and to the university,”Blanche Parks and Jerry Farley said Farley.  “She has brought a strong sense of the mission of Washburn to the task and has helped us grow the university into the institution that it is today.”

           Parks is part of a family with deep roots in the community and in Washburn.  In fact, she is one of eight members of the Parks family who claim Washburn University as their alma mater.  The line began with The Honorable Sherman A. Parks, Sr., the first African-American appellate judge in Kansas.  His twin brother Sheridan and his son Sherman A. Parks, Jr. – Blanche Parks’ late husband -- were also alumni.  Blanche Parks earned her degrees in education and her son Michael has earned his associate of arts and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

          “We were fortunate to have her service for so many years,” Farley said, “because she is well-known in the community and is much in demand with other great organizations.”

            Beyond her service to Washburn University, Parks has been a volunteer in the community having served as president of the YWCA of Northeast Kansas and as president of the Topeka Rotary Club, and as a board member for the Topeka Community Foundation, Brewster Place Retirement Community, the Washburn University Foundation and the Topeka Public Schools Foundation   Her leadership also reached beyond Kansas as she served as Kansas Governor for Rotary International and represented Kansas on the national board of the YWCA.

            Professionally, Parks served in a number of management positions in the office of the state treasurer including working as the director of the Learning Quest College Savings Program. While she directed that program, it was ranked in the top five college savings program in the Nation by CNN/Money Magazine.

            “My greatest honor was serving on the Washburn University Board of Regents,” Parks said.  “This institution touches so many in the community and serving as a regent has been one of the highlights of my life.”

            Parks said that she has been honored to work with President Farley and has enjoyed in taking part in the decisions to grow the campus to create a true residential college experience.

             “This beautiful campus has been totally rebuilt and I have been amazed at the many changes,” she said.

             However, Parks noted that graduation is still her favorite time of year and that she still gets a thrill at seeing the faces of the students and hearing the cheers of their friends and families.

            “I have had a valuable and unforgettable experience working with wonderful people – regents, faculty, staff and, of course, our outstanding students,” she said.  “Many people don’t know that serving on the board of regents is a purely volunteer position but it has been an honor to serve and I am much richer for the experience.”


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