Presidential search initiative

Read the: Position Announcement

Mission: Friends University, a Christian University of Quaker heritage, equips students to honor God and serve others by integrating their intellectual, spiritual, and professional lives.

The University: One of the largest independent institutions of higher learning in the state, Friends University is a successful and growing independent university located just west of downtown Wichita, in the heart of Kansas. The University’s 56-acre main campus is located in a park-like setting in a quiet residential community. In addition to the main campus in Wichita, the University operates permanent centers in the state’s capital city, Topeka and in Lenexa, a suburb of greater Kansas City, as well as in numerous outreach sites across the state.

The University currently serves 2,200 students. Classes are small, ranging in size from as few as 10 to a maximum of 50. The student population is diverse, representing a variety of cultures, backgrounds, ages and states.

The city of Wichita combines the benefits of an urban center with a small-city feel. The metro area of some 500,000 persons offers rich opportunities to experience the arts, music, theater, education, sports, world-class restaurants and excellent shopping. The cost of living is well below the national average. In July 2006, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Wichita ninth of 10 in U.S. big cities in which to live and in 2008, MSN Real Estate ranked Wichita first on its list of affordable “best, livable cities.” In June 2009, Wichita was recognized for the fourth time as an “All American City.” Wichita is rich both in the breadth of its arts communities and in corporate support for the arts.

Founded in 1898, by the Society of Friends, Friends University provides a welcoming and supportive environment for both traditional and adult students. In the 1930s, governance of the University was vested in an independent Board of Trustees and the University now operates in an amicable but independent relationship with the founding denomination. The University’s Quaker/Christian heritage continues to shape its ethos, values and mission. Long known for the excellence of its programs in the fine and performing arts, the University has gained an excellent reputation for the quality of its academic programs as well as for its more professionally oriented programs such as business and education.

The search process

“The Presidential Search Committee for the 14th President of Friends University has been assembled, is confirmed, and is now finalized. We are about to embark on the fulfillment of a calling that will shape our university for generations to come.

Unlike past search committees, which have been evenly formed between Trustees and University Constituents, we have sought the inclusion of leaders from our state’s business community — persons removed from intimacy with our campus, yet committed to our larger mission and individually motivated by Christian discipline. We believe our committee will serve the interests of students and faculty, draw notice of worthy presidential candidates, and most importantly, honor the work of Christ and His Kingdom.”

— John M. Lewis, DDS; Chair, Board of Trustees and Search Committee; boardchairfriendsu@gmail.com

Committee members

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Dr. John Lewis, Chair

Dr. John Lewis is President and Partner of Wichita Dental Group, PA and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Northwestern University. He holds a BA degree in Biology from Earlham College, Richmond, IN. He has been on the Friends University Board of Trustees since 2002 and Chair since 2013. He has been Chair of the Sedgwick County Board of Health, a National Delegate for the Christian Medical and Dental Associations and a leader in the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

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Craig A. Bay

Craig A. Bay’s personal mission statement is “Seek not to be great, but be a part of great things.” Currently, he is a Customer Advocate for NetApp, Inc. Bay is the Regional Commissioner for the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), is on the Friends University Board of Trustees, a member of the Special Olympics Game Management Team and serves on the Advisory Council for the Wichita Children’s Home. Previous endeavors include work with United Methodist Open Door, United Way of the Plains, Leadership Wichita and the Friends University Alumni Advisory Board.

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Fred Berry

Fred Berry is Chairman Emeritus of Berry Companies, Inc. after retiring in 2013. He founded Berry Tractor & Equipment Co. in 1957 and, in 1970, expansion led to changing the name to Berry Companies, Inc. Berry has extensive experience on the board of directors of many companies, including Wesley Medical Center, the Institute of Logopedics (now Heartspring), United Way, Bank Four and the Wichita Chamber of Commerce. He was involved in the founding of the Wichita Community Foundation and a long time member of the Wichita State Foundation Advisory Board. Berry is also an Elder and active member of Eastminster Presbyterian Church and co-founder and board member of the Eastminster Foundation.

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Robert K. Casper

Robert K. Casper is the President, founder, owner, and member of Ethanol Products, LLC (dba Poet Ethanol Products) and has served in this capacity since the Company’s formation in May, 2000. He holds a B.A. degree in Biology from Trinity University San Antonio, Tx. received in 1977. In addition to Ethanol Products, LLC he is currently on the boards of Poet, LCC and its various affiliates, Growth Energy, and the Apprentice Institute located at Friends University in Wichita, KS. Mr. Casper has been on the boards of various Koch Industries companies, Western Plains Energy LLC, and various local charitable organizations.

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Randy Doerksen

Randy Doerksen is the Vice President of Administration and Finance at Friends University and an alumnus, receiving both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Business Administration from Friends in 1981 and 1992, respectively. He currently serves on the Wichita Historic Preservation Board, and the Highland Springs Homeowners Association Board and has previously served as a Board and Finance Committee Member for Prairie View, Inc., a Treasurer for Little Lambs Preschool, and in many capacities for USD 259. He is a Senior Affiliate Consultant for Doerksen Consulting, LLC.

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Lynn Ghormley

Lynn Ghormley is an Alumna of Friends University, graduating with a Bachelor’s in Music Education in 1977. She received her Master’s in Music Education in 1983 from Wichita State University. She spent much of her career as a music educator at both Circle District USD 375 in Towanda, Ks. and Central Christian Academy in Wichita, Ks. She also served as the Choir Director for Benton United Methodist Church from 1980 to 2011. She is a former member of the Board of Directors for Kansas Christian Ashram, former Chair of the Benton United Methodist Church Missions Committee and member of the Administrative Board.

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Leatha Hein

Leatha Hein is co-owner of Hein Lawn Service, Inc. and a member of the Friends University Board of Trustees. She is a graduate of Friends University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She was Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Kansas Yearly Meeting, and was on the Stewardship Board of Northridge Friends Church. She also served Northridge Friends Church on the Spiritual Life Board, the Christian Education Board and as a past Elder.

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Dr. Cliff Loesch

Dr. Cliff Loesch has served as the Pastor of University Friends Church since 1994 and has served in various positions on the General Board for Friends United Meeting for the past 15 years. He received a Bachelor of Music from Friends University in 1979, a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1984 and a Doctor of Ministry from Drew University in 1993.

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Jana McKay Mullen

Jana McKay Mullen is co-owner of Casado-McKay, Inc. and has been a member of the Friends University Board of Trustees since 2012. She graduated from Friends University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1987 and served as a Friends University Volleyball Coach from 1987 to 1992, becoming the Head Volleyball Coach in 1989. She volunteers at the Lord’s Diner and Crossroads Friends Church and has served as a board member for Valley Center Recreation, Board of Zoning Appeals of Sedgwick County, Sedgwick County Committee Board for Kansas Coliseum Evaluation, and Camp Quaker Haven.

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Steve Neu

Steve Neu is the Chair of Staff Assembly and Media Services Technology Coordinator for Friends University and an Alumnus. He graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems. He volunteers his technical services at his church and serves as a mentor in both technical skills and Christian living for students who want to learn.

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Dr. Carole R. Obermeyer

Dr. Carole R. Obermeyer is the Vice President of Student Affairs at Friends University and has spent a lifetime advancing higher education and charitable causes. She holds a Ph.D. in Higher and Adult Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia, received in 1989. Obermeyer has served in a number of positions throughout her career, including Chair of the Board for the United Way of Central Florida, Board of Directors for the Rape Crisis Network in South Carolina, Executive Board member for the South Carolina Women in Higher Education Administration, accreditation visitation team member for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, State Chair for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators in South Carolina, and President, President Elect and Treasurer for the South Carolina College Personnel Association.

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David Rogers

David Rogers is a Juris Doctor and Partner with Foulston, Siefkin, LLP and currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Trinity Academy. He graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Kansas in 1987. He is a former President of the Advisory Board for the Salvation Army, and former member of the boards of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, HopeNet, Music Theater of Wichita, Eastminster Presbyterian Church and Wichita Festivals, Inc.

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Dr. Patrick J. Sehl, Jr.

Dr. Patrick J. Sehl, Jr. is the University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministries for Friends University. He is an Alumnus of Friends University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Philosophy in 1996. He received his Master’s of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1999 and his Doctor of Ministry in Semiotics and Future Studies from George Fox University in May of 2014.

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Dr. Karyn Turla

Dr. Karyn Turla is Tenured, Full Professor of Biology at Friends University, Director of the Health Sciences program and the Faculty Senate Chair. She received her Ph.D. in Physiology with an emphasis in Renal Physiology from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1992 and post-doctoral training from Dartmouth Medical School in both Physiology and Immunology from 1992 to 1996. Previously, she served on the ACUBE Editorial Board.