We are in a crisis of civility in this country according to Dr. Jerry Farley, President of Washburn University, who spoke at the weekly meeting of the Topeka Rotary Club.

“About every three weeks or so, we invite about thirty to thirty-five students over to our house and we will discuss a particular topic,” said Farley. “We try to pick a topic that will stimulate a lot of discussion about things they may have not ever thought about before.  But about twice a year, we will talk about either ethics or civility."


Farley said that as part of an educated society, we have a responsibility to take the best and to enlighten those future generations.  But right now, he says, there seems to be an increasing desire to divide ourselves.

“It’s not that we shouldn’t have beliefs that we feel strongly in or morals that we accept as a society,” Farley said.  “But there are divisive ideologies that people use to try and divide us. It is this divisiveness that is most troubling to me.  We want our students to recognize that people have different thoughts.  Whether it is saving the wales or driving electric cars, it’s important that our students are passionate about ideas.

“I would bet that some of the people in this room watch MSNBC and some of you watch Fox News and often these two networks will focus on the differences.  We encourage the students to maybe listen to both and make a decision from information they get from many sources.”

Farley encouraged the club to discuss issues but at the same time discuss those issues with civility.   He said that it’s important to learn from others from all sides of an issue.

Farley arrived at Topeka’s Washburn University in 1997.  Since then, the face of Washburn University has changed dramatically.

“Washburn was known primarily as a commuter school or a part-time school,” said Farley.  “We have now gone from two-thirds non-traditional to two-thirds traditional.  And enrollment is going up.  That is both good and bad.  The good is that enrollment is going up.  The problem with that is that we have to have more instructors, so we’ve had to shift some money around to make that happen.”

You can watch the video of his presentation below or here.  Visit our Facebook page to see more photographs taken by Ann Palmer from today's meeting.



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