It isn’t often that members of the Kansas Legislature take time to sing the praises of a private institution of higher education.
But that’s just what happened March 13, when the Kansas House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously passed separate resolutions commemorating the history, values, contributions to the community and 80th Anniversary of the founding of Newman University.
In the House of Representatives, Rep. Ponca-We Victors of the 103rd District, who is a 2005 graduate of Newman, sponsored and introduced the resolution (HR 6057) and presented comments about her alma mater.
In the Senate, Sen. Michael O’Donnell of the 25th District introduced the Senate resolution (SR 1797) and took a few moments to offer positive remarks about Newman University. Also providing glowing comments about the university were Sen. Les Donovan of the 27th District and Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau of the 29th District.
“It was exciting to be there and hear the legislators say such great things about Newman University,” said Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., who was among a number of Newman representatives who attended the events at the Capitol in Topeka. “The standing ovations we received in both chambers brought us to tears. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Rep. Victors, Sen. O’Donnell and others who helped make this special day possible.”
Sen. Donovan spoke about the positive effect Newman had on his grandsons, one who is a recent graduate of Newman and another who is a current graduate student.
“It was truly moving listening to these legislators making tributes to Newman, and saying how Newman has made a change in their families’ lives, and how the state of Kansas is lucky to have Newman University,” said Associate Vice President of Academic Services and Student Development Rosemary Niedens, part of the group from Newman.
Niedens noted that other members of the Kansas delegation came forward to shake hands and visit briefly with the representatives from Newman.
The House and Senate resolutions outlined major points in the history of Newman, from its founding as Sacred Heart Junior College in 1933 by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) to the present. The resolutions further noted that the university’s mission to “empower graduates to transform society” is grounded in its Core Values of Catholic Identity, Academic Excellence, Culture of Service and Global Perspective. The resolutions concluded by commending and celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Newman University.
Newman Student Government Association Secretary and Treasurer Chase Blasi, who spearheaded the effort to create the resolutions, said he was inspired by the anniversary.
“Newman University has been celebrating its 80th Anniversary throughout this academic year. I thought there was no better way to recognize Newman throughout the state than recognition from the State Legislature,” said Blasi, from Colwich, Kan. “Newman contributes so much to society through its graduates and the students who dedicate countless hours of service to the community.”
In January, Blasi contacted Rep. Victors, and asked her “as a proud alum of Newman” if she would help prepare a resolution, and sponsor and introduce it to the House. Victors and her staff worked closely with Newman Provost Michael Austin, Ph.D., other university officials and Blasi to write the resolution.
To prepare a Senate resolution, Blasi contacted Sen. O’Donnell, a longtime friend, who agreed to sponsor and introduce the resolution. By early February, the resolutions were on the Legislature docket.
In addition to Carrocci, Niedens and Blasi, those attending the signing of the resolutions were Director of Mission Effectiveness and Archives Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, Associate Professor of Theology Joshua Papsdorf, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of History Kelly McFall, Ph.D. SGA Sen. Jonathan Albers also attended.
“It was very nice,” added Papsdorf, who attended as the current president of the Newman Faculty Senate. “Rep. Victors was very accommodating and had a nice lunch with us.”
The trip to Topeka also included a brief meeting with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.