Interim President Andy Tompkins keeping busy in his last few days


Matthew Kelly

Dr. Andy Tompkins sits in the president’s office in Morrison Hall. Tompkins is WSU’s new interim president.

Interim Wichita State President Andy Tompkins has a busy last few days at Wichita State. 

Friday he went to Topeka to celebrate the retirement of a friend, Saturday he was at the nursing pinning and basketball game against Oklahoma, and Sunday he oversees his last graduation ceremony with a reception for former Governor Mark Parkinson, the speaker at graduation, following. Monday will mostly be spent packing up his office and residence before President-Elect Jay Golden starts on Tuesday.

“I know some people don’t like graduation, I love graduation,” Tompkins said while recalling the events he has leading up to his last day. “I mean, that’s what you’ve been here for. You know what I mean? And the families are happy … I’m so glad I got to finish and get through the graduation.”

Upon returning home to Topeka, Tompkins plans on going back to volunteering for his community through the rotary club and the foundation board he serves on for an area hospital. He also sings in his church choir.

“Kind of a funny story, when the Topeka Capital-Journal showed when they hired Jay to be the president. Two days later I got a call saying, we have a spot for your you to come back and start helping us.”

But mostly, “it’s just home,” Tompkins said.

“There’ll be an adjustment, you know, I mean, … eight months away and then going back, it’s just like if you were here all eight months and then you go back home and everybody’s in their routines, you’re in yours.”

In his role as the superintendent of schools in El Dorado, Tompkins first began coming to WSU in 1979, when the walkway between Duerksen Fine Arts Center and Morrison Hall was a street.

Tompkins has multiple things he’ll miss about the university, but it’s mostly the campus and the many things to do in Wichita.

“There’s nothing like being here.”

When he became the interim president, Tompkins made it his goal to walk through all of Wichita State’s buildings. He finally got through all of them last week when he addressed the university support staff and unclassified professionals senate in the CAC Theater.

“I realized I hadn’t been in that building,” Tompkins said. “That’s [CAC Theater] is pretty nice.”

His favorite part of campus is what he calls the central part of campus where the library is. He explained he hadn’t been over to Innovation Campus much since it’s mainly businesses.

But with walking through all the buildings, what once seemed like a huge university to Tompkins now feels a bit smaller.

“I bet when you all came, it seemed maybe bigger. And as you’ve been here, it feels smaller. That’s what happens when I walk it now. I mean, you know, I’m going ‘yeah, oh, I’ve already been through that,’” Tompkins said addressing Sunflower reporters.

All in all, Tompkins said he wasn’t leaving Wichita behind and would come back for visits.

“I’d love to come back for some more student events,” Tompkins said. “I mean, that’s the ones that I probably like the most.”