Alumni Association Honors Six Who Serve Their Communities, Washburn Law

The Washburn University School of Law Alumni Association Board of Governors honored six individuals during its annual Alumni Weekend in October.

These six have worked as counsel, educators, philanthropists, and other public servants. Along with distinguished careers, the six individuals have shown a commitment to using their legal education to improve their communities, advocate for their chosen career fields, and serve Washburn Law.

The Alumni Association honored Stephen Cavanaugh, BA ’71 and JD ’80, with the Distinguished Service Award. Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Bob Hartsook, JD ’79; John Kemp, JD ’74 and Honorary ’03; and Jessie Junette Nye, 1912 (posthumous). Mark Dupree, JD ’07, was named Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD), and Thomas Romig, dean, Washburn Law, was named Honorary Life Member.

“These individuals demonstrate the highest ideals of a Washburn Law education,” said Jim Slattery, BA ’70 and JD ’75, chair, Washburn University School of Law Alumni Association Board of Governors. “They have achieved high levels of success in their chosen careers while serving their communities and the School of Law with their expertise. We were honored to recognize them during Alumni Weekend.”

Distinguished Service Award The Distinguished Service Award honors graduates who have particularly distinguished themselves and brought recognition to the school through their service to the Washburn University School of Law, the legal profession, their community, or public service.

Stephen Cavanaugh, BA ’71, JD ’80

Stephen Cavanaugh graduated with honors from Washburn Law and joined the firm of Fisher, Ochs & Heck, P.A. The firm is now known as Cavanaugh, Biggs & Lemon, P.A., and he is of-counsel. He was president of the Topeka Bar Association, and chaired the Bench and Bar Committee for 18 years, and he currently serves both on the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys and as president of the Sam A. Crow Inn of Court. Cavanaugh has a long history of supporting Washburn Law and served as an adjunct professor for 11 years. He was also a member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors from 1998 to 2012, serving as president from 2010-12. In addition, Cavanaugh was president of the Washburn Law School Foundation Board of Directors for three years and served on the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees of the Washburn University Foundation from 2012-15.

Lifetime Achievement Award The Lifetime Achievement Award honors graduates whose careers have been highly distinguished, and whose achievements and contributions are widely recognized as significant and outstanding in their field of endeavor, whether it be in the practice of law, the judiciary, business, public service, education or otherwise.

Bob Hartsook, JD ’79

Robert Hartsook has established himself as a leader in the field of fundraising and philanthropy consulting; and as an advocate for the education of aspiring fundraising professionals. He founded Hartsook Companies, Inc., the world’s largest fundraising consulting practice, in 1986. The company has helped more than 6,000 nonprofits worldwide. He has also invested personally in the field with the Hartsook Chair in Fundraising at Indiana University, Hartsook Institutes at Avila University (Missouri), and the Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at Plymouth University (United Kingdom). Indiana University gave him the Spirit of Philanthropy Award in 2004, and Avila University named him Philanthropist of the Year in 2012. Hartsook has written numerous books on fundraising.

John Kemp, JD ’74, H ’03

John Kemp is a leading advocate for improving the lives of people with disabilities. He is president and CEO of The Viscardi Center (New York), a network of nonprofits providing services to educate, employ and empower individuals with disabilities. In 2006, he received the Henry B. Betts Award, regarded as America’s highest honor for disability leadership and service. In 2014, Kemp received the Dole Leadership Prize at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. Dole, JD '52, BA '52, Honorary '69, and Honorary '85, personally selected Kemp for the award. In 2010, Kemp has served on the Medicaid Commission and U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities.

Jessie Junette Nye, 1912 (posthumous)

Jessie Junette Nye came to Washburn in 1901 and graduated from Washburn Law in 1912. She is often cited as a pioneer for women in the law in Kansas. Upon graduation, Nye was docket clerk for the Public Utilities Commission. Not fully welcomed into the legal profession as a woman, Nye worked several jobs before establishing her own private practice in Newton in 1931. She worked there until retiring in 1970. Women were not permitted to join the Kansas Bar Association until 1935, so in 1919, she and two other alumnae started the Kansas Women Lawyers’ Association. Nye had no children of her own, but she influenced many in her extended family to follow in legal studies at Washburn.

Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) The Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award, established in 2017, honors recent graduates whose performance and commitment has set an example of professionalism and demonstrated leadership in the legal field, in their community, or to the School of Law. Recipients of the award must have graduated within the past 10 years.

Mark Dupree, JD ’07

Mark Dupree was sworn in as District Attorney of Wyandotte County (Kansas), on Jan. 9, 2017. He leads an office of 60 employees in Kansas’ fourth largest county. He focusses on equitably prosecuting crime; being proactive; and attacking violent crimes and crimes that affect the standard of living. Previously, he was an assistant prosecuting attorney in Jackson County (Missouri) and practiced in the firm, Dupree and Dupree, LLC, along with his wife, Shanelle Dupree, ’07. He speaks at numerous churches and schools and has sponsored legal clinics and shadow days. He is an associate pastor and ordained church elder; and a member of the Kansas Bar Association Board of Governors and the Kansas Legal Services Board of Directors.

Honorary Life Membership 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.

Dean Thomas J. Romig

Thomas Romig became dean of Washburn Law in 2007 and announced recently that this would be his final academic year as dean. He will stay on as a member of the Washburn Law faculty. During his tenure, he established three joint degree programs with other schools within Washburn; and expanded the summer study abroad and agriculture law programs. The Law School has been recognized nationally for its legal writing program, practical training, and trial advocacy program. Romig served six years as a military intelligence officer and then was selected for the Army Fully Funded Law School Program. He graduated with honors from Santa Clara University School of Law (California). During his prestigious military career, he served four years as the 36th judge advocate general of the Army, supervising an organization of 9,000 personal across 22 countries. He served as chief of Army Civil Law and Litigation and chief of Military Law and Operations in Washington, D.C. The Kansas Bar Association awarded Romig the Courageous Attorney Award in 2009 for his time as judge advocate general of the Army when he took positions against interrogation methods in violation of the Geneva Conventions and Uniform Code of Military Justice. His military service and leadership have earned him numerous decorations and badges.