Photograph: Alumna meeting with student.

Honorary Life Membership (Non-Alumni)

The Honorary Life Membership is awarded annually to a non-graduate. The recipient of this honor is someone who has provided an exemplary service to their profession, community, and Washburn University School of Law.

2013 Recipient

Photograph: Gregory J. Pease.Professor Gregory J. Pease graduated cum laude from Wichita State University with bachelor's degrees in English and psychology in 1964. He studied philosophy at the University of Illinois before entering law school. He received his law degree from the University of New Mexico in 1970, and upon graduation served as a law clerk to the Honorable Oliver Seth, Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Prior to joining the Washburn Law faculty, he taught at the Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit College of Law in Ada, Ohio. At ONU, he was an assistant dean and also the faculty advisor for the law review.

Professor Pease taught at Washburn Law for 37 years and served as a member of the Admissions Committee for many years. He has been a repeated recipient of the William O. Douglas Professor of the Year teaching award presented at spring commencement for the law school. He authored chapter 59 of the 2000 Supplement for Vernon’s Kansas Statutes Annotated, and his teaching responsibilities have included Decedents’ Estates, Trusts and Future Interests, Property I, and Law and Literature. He retired from the faculty of Washburn Law after the 2013 spring semester.

Professor Pease will now have more time to enjoy hunting, fishing, music, and reading. With his retirement, he will be able to enjoy the 4G's — gardening, guitar, grandkids (he and his wife, Joan, have two children and four grandchildren) and golf. He has fond memories of playing golf with Professors Ray Spring and John Kuether. The one thing he will probably miss the most in retirement from the law school is Linda "Cricket" Elrod's chocolate chip cookies.

B.A., Wichita State University, 1964
J.D., University of New Mexico, 1970


2012 Recipient

Photograph: Elizabeth A. (Betty Fischer).Elizabeth A. (Betty) Fischer has served in a variety of capacities since earning a bachelor's degree in psychology from Mount St. Scholastica College (now Benedictine College) in Atchison, Kansas. From 1965 to 1967, she was a social worker for Catholic Social Services in Lincoln, Nebraska. From 1971 to 1974, Fischer served as assistant alumni director at Benedictine College until her family moved to southern Germany where her husband taught English in university preparatory schools. Upon returning to Atchison, she taught English as a Second Language and later was an activities director at a nursing home. She also was the office manager for Legal Services of Northeast Kansas.

Fischer's career at Washburn University School of Law began in 1986 when she became law clinic coordinator. She was appointed assistant to the dean for Dean James Concannon in 1995. In May 2006 the position changed to director, Administrative Services. Fischer was responsible for personnel, student accommodations, budget, facilities, and finance for the law school and student organizations. To facilitate student accommodations, she encouraged faculty to adopt a computer software solution for exams that is now being used by most students. She has served on several law school committees, including commencement, strategic planning, and the strategic planning facilities subcommittee. Fischer was a member of several Washburn campus committees and served as the law school representative to staff council. She served on the board of the National Network of Law School Officers from 1999 to 2004 and in various other capacities until 2010. She retired from Washburn Law in June 2010 and subsequently received the "Eminentes Universitatis" designation from Washburn University.

In the early 1990s, Fischer was named to the board of Mount St. Scholastica Academy, of which she served for 10 years. She co-founded the Atchison Farmers' Market, with Washburn Law alumna Joan Adam, in 1998, and continues to serve on its board. Fischer and her husband grow chemical-free produce, which they sell at the market. She is married to Gunther Fischer, is the mother of five children and has four grandchildren.


2011 Recipient

Photograph: Kathleen Sebelius.Kathleen Sebelius has served in public office for more than two decades, inheriting her father's desire to give back to others through a vocation in public service.

Sebelius won election as the 44th governor of Kansas in November 2002, becoming the first daughter of a U.S. governor (John Gilligan, Ohio, 1971-75) to serve in that same capacity. Three years into her initial term, TIME magazine named Sebelius to its list of "America's Five Best Governors." She was re-elected governor in 2006 and served until her appointment as the 21st Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in April 2009.

She served two terms as Kansas Insurance Commissioner between 1995 and 2003, and during that time was named one of Governing magazine's "Public Officials of the Year" and one of the "100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare" by Modern Healthcare Magazine.

She began her career in public service as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives serving from 1987 to 1995. Before that, Sebelius worked as an aide with the Kansas Department of Corrections and was director of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association. She received a bachelor's degree in political science from Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C., and earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.

She is married to Gary Sebelius, a U.S. magistrate judge.


2010 Recipient

Photograph: John Christensen.While in law school, Professor John E. Christensen was associate editor of the Utah Bar Journal and clerked for Justice J. Allan Crockett of the Utah Supreme Court. Prior to joining Washburn, he was an instructor and professional law librarian at The University of Texas at Austin.

Christensen has been the Washburn Law Library Director for the past 31 years. He has overseen development of the library's collection and services in an era of rapid technological development. The library has developed a reputation for excellence in utilizing technology. Examples include the first web-based law library catalog and WashLaw legal research portal. The National Jurist, a magazine for law students, ranked Washburn's law library in the top 20% of ABA-accredited United States law school libraries, 2000, 2004, and 2010.

Christensen recently completed service as President of the Mid-America Association of Law Libraries. He initiated and maintains the LawLibDir discussion list for law school library directors in the United States. Christensen served on the technology committee of the ABA's Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and is a site evaluator. In addition, he is a frequent CLE presenter on legal research resources on the Web.

Christensen teaches specialized legal research, law and religion, and law practice technologies courses. He is faculty adviser to the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. He serves on the law school's strategic planning committee and chairs the facilities committee.

BA, Brigham Young University, 1971
JD, University of Utah, 1975
MLS, University of California, Berkeley, 1976
Washburn Law Library Director and
Professor of Law


2009 Recipient

Photograph: Sheila Reynolds.Sheila Reynolds majored in Oriental Languages and East Asian Studies in college and was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Harvard University from 1966-67, studying Chinese literature. She returned to Kansas for her J.D., was admitted to practice law in Kansas and Missouri in 1971, and worked as a legal services staff lawyer in both states.

Reynolds has been on the Washburn Law faculty for 30 years. This past academic year, she was Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, in addition to having this responsibility from 1985-91. She has supervised students in family law cases in the Law Clinic for 28 years, and taught Professional Responsibility, Legal Malpractice, Research and Writing, and family law courses.

In 2008, Dean Reynolds received the Robert Gernon Award for Outstanding Service to Continuing Legal Education in Kansas. In 2007, the Kansas Bar Association (KBA) presented her with a Pro Bono Certifi cate for legal representation of indigent persons without charge, and in 1999 she received the KBA's Outstanding Service Award.

BA, University of Kansas, 1966
JD, University of Kansas, 1971
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Professor of Law


2008 Recipient

Photograph: Nancy Maxwell.Nancy G. Maxwell holds a B.A. and J.D. from the University of North Dakota and an LL.M. in law teaching from Harvard. She has been teaching at Washburn University School of Law for the past 28 years. Prior to that she was a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of North Dakota. Professor Maxwell currently teaches Family Law, Feminist Legal Theory, Family Law Seminar, and Criminal Law. During the Centennial Celebration, she and her partner, Terry Curry, endowed a scholarship fund for students interested in family law or nondiscrimination law. In addition, in April 2007 they hosted a law school alumni "house concert" to raise scholarship funds for students from diverse backgrounds. One of the highlights of Professor Maxwell's long tenure at Washburn has been the honor of serving with the officers of the Washburn Law Alumni Association when she and Bernie Bianchino '74 co-chaired the Dean's Search Committee in the fall of 2006. In addition to her other responsibilities, she is the Director of International Legal Programs at the law school and a member of the Family Law Advisory Committee of the Kansas Judicial Council.