Shermoens multiply into family of Washburn supporters

Richard and Nancy ShermoenPhotos: (from top) Richard and Nancy Shermoen, Rich and Lori Shermoen, and Mandi Walter

Washburn needed someone to chair the mathematics, statistics and computer information sciences department in 1967. The person hired settled into Washburn and now has a family of Ichabods three generations strong.

Richard Shermoen was teaching mathematics at North Dakota State University when Washburn contacted him. He was interested so he took a train to meet Dean Authur Engelbert, who was traveling to Chicago.

After an intriguing visit, Richard took another train to Topeka where he saw the new wing of Morgan Hall that would soon be his home on campus.

“I was very impressed. Math departments are typically in the oldest building on campus,” he joked.

Richard, along with his wife Nancy and their three children, moved to Topeka after years of teaching and studying  at universities all over the country.

He served in the position until he retired in 1993, and Nancy worked as an administrative assistant in the psychology department from 1973-92.

Since retiring, they created the Richard E. Shermoen Mathematics Scholarship. They also support other areas like music and KTWU through annual gifts. They are proud of their university and the family legacy they are building.

“We love Washburn and enjoy supporting it,” Richard said.

Rich and Lori ShermoenTheir son, Rich, bba ’81, and daughter, Margaret Walter, bba ’11, both have children who have attended or are attending Washburn.

Rich met his wife, Lori Shermoen, bba ’83, in a Washburn production of South Pacific in 1980.

“I was a dancer, and he played Billis and wore coconuts and a grass skirt,” Lori said.

Their time at Washburn fostered a love for music and strong relationships with professors who still bring back great memories when they meet.

“We’re so excited about supporting Washburn during this transformational time,” Rich said. “Washburn continues to enrich the Topeka community while growing into a university that attracts students from all over. And it’s not just the buildings that are changing. It’s the programs offered.”

Rich and Lori contribute to Washburn every year with gifts to his parents’ scholarship fund, music and the School of Business.

Mandi WalterTheir son, Andrew, is studying education and performs in the Washburn Choir and jazz ensemble. Their niece, Mandi Walter, bba ’09, is on the Washburn University Alumni Association Board of Directors.

“I have so many opportunities to be involved and give,” she said. “I really enjoy providing input as a younger member of the board.”

Her sister, Bridget Walter, ba ’12, said it wasn’t uncommon for her family to see each other on campus or even take a class together. She’s now seeking a master of business administration.

“It’s great to carry on the tradition,” she said. “It made the choice to come here easy.”