Washburn Institute of Technology classes begin today

“We can’t be more excited Washburn Institute of Technology for this academic school year. Our enrollment numbers are trending up from last year. We have some additional programs we are offering the community, including the Sterile Processing Program and the Plumbing Technology Program.” Mike Strohschein, Dean of Washburn Institute of Technology.

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It’s not too late to enroll but we do have a waiting list for some of our programs. We are still cautious with the pandemic and continue safety but we are almost 100% to where we were pre-pandemic. We are in desperate need of instructors in our nursing program. We are looking for three full-time instructors.” said Strohschein.

Topeka, Kan. – Residents of the Topeka Correctional Facility (TCF,) an all-women’s prison, have more opportunities to earn certificates and degrees at Washburn University and Washburn Institute of Technology (Washburn Tech) thanks to expansion of the Second Chance Pell program.

The U.S. Department of Education launched the Second Chance Pell program in 2015 for incarcerated individuals to allow them to participate in postsecondary education programs. Washburn applied to the U.S. Department of Education in 2019 to take part in the program and was approved in 2020. Washburn is also a member of the Kansas Consortium on Correctional Higher Education DCAS Commissioner Dawn Pinnock, which was formed in 2020 by the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC), several Kansas colleges and the Kansas Board of Regents.

The coordinated efforts between Washburn University, Washburn Tech and KDOC allows residents in the minimum-security section of the TCF to work towards a general education diploma, a certificate in industrial production technology or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. By completing one or more of Washburn’s programs, TCF residents have a better chance of finding employment after their release.

“Washburn has become the great institution it is today by always having our community’s interest in mind,” said Dr. Laura Stephenson, interim vice president of academic affairs at Washburn University. “This program provides TCF residents a path forward after they are released, a chance that will positively affect Topeka.”

According to KDOC, approximately 98 percent of men and women in Kansas prisons today will return to live as our neighbors and members of our society.

About 40 percent of residents at TCF do not hold a high school diploma; this is similar to the percentage of all people who are incarcerated in Kansas who do not have a high school diploma.

A study conducted in 2016 by the RAND Corporation noted that when education classes of any level were offered within correctional facilities, there was a 43 percent reduction of individuals returning to prison after their release.
Washburn has been offering an associate of liberal studies degree program since 2021 at TCF. It has grown from 25 students to about 70 students in the program today. Upon completion of an associate of liberal studies degree, students have the opportunity to continue their higher education by pursuing a bachelor of integrated studies degree through Washburn.