Message from Dean Pratt: Washburn Law Responds to COVID-19

Photograph: Carla Pratt.

Dear Alumni and Friends:

On behalf of the Washburn Law School Community, I bring you greetings from my home office. I hope and pray that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.

I write to give you an update on how the COVID-19 pandemic and related disruptions are affecting our law school community, and how we are responding to the challenges.

As you probably already know, Washburn University has ceased in-person instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. We are continuing to teach our students through both synchronous online education using Zoom and asynchronous education using our course management platforms that were in place prior to the pandemic. All faculty and staff members have been approved to work from home and are doing so. Only a few quasi-essential employees have been granted access to the law school building to ensure that mail service and other paper dependent business processes continue.

Our law students are rising to the occasion, and are participating in courses remotely and supporting one another remotely. I have received many expressions of gratitude from our students expressing their thanks for our faculty and staff’s support and strong leadership during this time. Like so many among us, a number of our students also are grappling with personal and family challenges that are exacerbated by the threat of COVID-19. We are aware of one student who may have been exposed to the virus after leaving campus, but who is self-isolating and doing well despite exhibiting some of the symptoms associated with the virus.

We are doing our best to support our students. From providing loaner laptops and Wi-Fi hot spots to connecting them to health services, academic assistance, counseling resources, emergency loans and more, our Dean of Students, Jalen Lowry has been at the forefront of making sure that student needs are met. I want to say a special thank you to the Washburn Law School Alumni Association for providing the financial support to obtain internet service for the students who did not have it. If you can help us support students with a scholarship, please make a donation to our scholarship fund here: We are awaiting the university’s instruction regarding when Commencement will be rescheduled, and we do plan to participate. In the interim, our staff is creating a video tribute to the Class of 2020 and will make that available via YouTube when it is completed.

Our faculty voted to eliminate curved grading for this semester and administer open book take home exams. We trust that these measures will create equity among our students, many of whom are coping with caring for young children while attending classes and taking final exams. I have been in awe of our faculty as I have watched them devote hours to educating themselves how to teach effectively via Zoom. And our staff has shown tremendous dedication to make this sudden shift work as well as possible with many of them taking on the task of serving as “Tech Deputies” to support each faculty member with the technology associated with online instruction.

I know that many of our alumni, friends and supporters are also coping with the challenges presented by social distancing. Whether you are working remotely, supervising children who would normally be in school, or dealing with unexpected financial issues, I want you to know that we are all in this together and Washburn Law will do what it can to support you. Toward that end, Dean Shawn Leisinger is planning to continue the law school’s CLE programming so that lawyers who need CLE hours can get them, and Alumni Director Karli Davis is exploring the potential for hosting a Zoom happy hour so that we can connect with you virtually.

In the meantime, I thank you all for your support of Washburn Law, and I look forward to the day when I can convey my appreciation in person.


Your dean,

Carla Pratt