Randy Pembrook accepts job at Washburn

Story by Kyle Davis

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Randy Pembrook, special assistant to the president for accreditation and academic affairs for Baker University, has accepted a position at Washburn University in Topeka.

Pembrook will become Washburn’s new vice president of academic affairs beginning Jan. 18. University President Pat Long made the announcement Thursday afternoon in an e-mail to the Baker community.

“One of the reasons that I liked Baker, and came here, is there’s great people,” Pembrook said. “There’s great folks in the leadership positions and one of the reasons why I thought about going to Washburn was that they have good people there, too.”

At Washburn, Pembrook will monitor the academic process by working with the deans and academic program directors, looking at aspects of the academic process, such as admission standards and general education changes.

“I think that when you change, sometimes there are issues about size, but if I move from Baker, which is 3,500 to 4,000 students, to a place that’s 7,000 (students), I think the transition will be more about getting to know new people, getting to know different committee structures and the way that people at different institutions take care of business,” Pembrook said.

Pembrook has worked at Baker for about three years, being hired as the provost, but has worked with Long for nine years, as the two also worked together at the University of Missouri Kansas City.

“Washburn is a fabulous fit for him,” Long said. “In many ways, being at UMKC was the perfect preparation for Washburn … because Washburn is a municipal university, so it’s in the city, very close ties to the city, and Randy understands that.”

Professor of Sociology Tim Buzzell worked with Pembrook on the Campus Compact Project at Baker, which promotes service learning in the classroom, and said Pembrook believes in service learning and has helped the university grow during his time at Baker.

“I think Randy has helped start a process of growing programs at Baker, and now that we’re kind of through the tough times, we’re looking to the future, and he sure has helped us a lot thinking about the future and looking to opportunities,” Buzzell said.

Long said a replacement for Pembrook will not come until the university gains more financial stability, and Long will meet with the deans directly in the meantime.

“Randy is a very special person,” Long said. “Personally, we’ve been great colleagues and friends, and I have the most respect for him.”

Pembrook said a mix of emotions is coming with the change, the excitement of the new job and the sadness of leaving and seeing a part of his career ending with leaving Baker.

“He’s a great guy, he really is,” Buzzell said. “We’re going to miss him around here.”