Retiring Professor John Conlee has ‘looked forward each day to working’ at Newman University

May 08, 2014

In a very short time, Associate Professor and Director of Paralegal Studies John Conlee, J.D. expects to be spending his days reading books, playing golf and tennis, and snow skiing – as well as traveling to Europe with his wife, Andrea.

John Conlee Conlee, who has worked for Newman University the past 10 years and in the legal profession for 30 years before that, will retire at the end of the Spring 2014 semester.

Conlee received an A.B. degree in 1962 from Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, with a major in government-philosophy. “A far cry from my initial chemistry major,” Conlee said. He then earned a J.D. degree in 1965 at the law school at the University of Chicago, where he also was rewarded with a National Honor Scholarship.

From 1965 to 1991, Conlee practiced law in Wichita with the law firm of Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch. While working at the firm, Conlee decided to enter a two-year program at the University of Colorado’s Denver campus to receive an Executive MBA in 1989.

“My law firm always supported this effort,” Conlee said. “I’m incredibly lucky to have been at all these schools of higher education, including Newman University for the past 10 years.”

In the early 1990s, Conlee stopped the active practice of law and began his teaching career. He started at Butler Community College where he taught two business classes and then moved to Wichita State University where he taught business law and paralegal courses. While at WSU, Conlee received two teaching awards, including Teacher of the Year in Business School.

“Yet they did humor me and let me teach an introductory finance course occasionally,” Conlee said.

In 2004, WSU ceased its paralegal program because, as Conlee said, the Kansas Board of Regents looked with disfavor on a four-year school offering a two-year degree. Conlee then worked with Professor of Sociology Larry Heck and former Dean of the School of Applied Sciences Mike Smith to bring the Paralegal Studies Program to Newman University.

At Newman, Conlee taught paralegal courses including legal research and writing, contract law, property law and several other courses.

“Again, I’ve been humored here by teaching history and political science courses, including one on the founding era, 1763-1803, and several constitutional law courses, including one devoted to the Bill of Rights,” Conlee said. “Newman has been very generous to me.”

While at Newman, Conlee served on the faculty evaluation committee, where he reviewed files on faculty members only to learn, “what a creative and dedicated faculty Newman enjoys,” Conlee said. “Teaching, while it can be as demanding as the practice of law, yields more genuine satisfaction. Over the past nearly 50 years I’ve needed a few ‘mental health’ days, but only a very few at Newman.

“For the past 10 years, I have looked forward each day to working here,” he added. “Also, I fully recognize and applaud the generous support Newman receives from the [ASC] sisters. They make all this possible.”

Conlee and his wife recently purchased a home on Lake Shawnee in Topeka, where they will be located only a half hour away from four of their five grandchildren.