WSU faculty couple shares their love story


Morgan Anderson

Lisa and Will Parcel, professors at Wichita State University, laugh while they answer questions from The Sunflower on Tuesday inside the Rhatigan Student Center.

Lisa and Will Parcell are not what most people would call a “traditional” couple. Lisa, a Wichita State communications professor and graduate coordinator, and Will, WSU associate professor and geology chair, were set up on a blind date.

Will said he and his wife were introduced by a friend who lived in Lisa’s neighborhood.

“She kept saying, ‘You got to meet this guy, you got to meet this guy,’” Lisa saidof her matchmaker. “I kept saying, ‘After comprehensive [exams], and then I will.’ 

“So we set up a date for the day after I finished my comprehensive exams. It was very on schedule.”

Three months into their dating relationship, when most couples are still getting to know each other, the Parcells were already discussing their future.

“We took a trip down to New Orleans and just found ourselves talking about what we would be doing together a year, or two years, or five years out,” Will said. “We both sort of came to the realization that we wanted to get married.”

“I said, ‘Does this mean we’re getting married?’” Lisa Parcell said. “[And he said] ‘Yeah, I guess. Okay!’”

“There was no getting down on one knee or anything,” Will added.

Lisa said a normal engagement wouldn’t have fit their laid-back personalities. 

“We’re not very good at [being] romantic,” she chuckled. 

The Parcells’ trend of breaking traditions didn’t end there. Many women dream of their future engagement ring and spend hours dropping hints about what they want to their significant other, but Lisa said she didn’t like that tradition.

“I didn’t want an engagement ring,” she explained. “I didn’t want to be claimed. That bothered me. I wanted to be an equal partner. 

“But then when we had both of our boys, Will bought me a ring . . .  It was important to both of us to have matching wedding bands.”

Now 21 years into marriage, the Parcells have their fair share of advice for younger couples. 

“Address the elephant in the room. That’s always a big one,” Lisa said. “There are always things that come up that nobody wants to talk about because it’s much easier to not talk about. Then it festers and then it gets worse. Sometimes you just have to say, ‘Okay, let’s just talk this through.’”

Will said one key to their successful marriage is sharing common goals. 

“When we were going into our marriage, we both had an ongoing goal,” he said. “We both had the same goal in terms of where we were going in our career. We were sort of working together and trying to support one another.

“Our marriage is about being a support team.”

The couple came to WSU in 2001. 

They said working at the same institution comes with its challenges. In a way, they never stop working.

“You take it home,” Lisa said. “You’ll be eating dinner and something will come up about the faculty meeting.”

“The topics will continue into the evening,” Will acknowledged.

Challenges aside, Lisa said she wouldn’t want any other job.

“It’s the best job in the world,” she said. “I absolutely love being a teacher . . . I like the fact it’s important to be bright and have good ideas and to be around other people who are bright and have good ideas. You never feel old.

“I feel constantly about 20 or 22. If nobody you’re looking at changes age, you never change age either.”

The Parcells have two sons, ages 16 and 13. While they agree that they love WSU, the couple is not pushing their sons to be Shockers. 

“We like the school, but they need to get off and do their own thing and find themselves,” Will said. “It could be here, but it’s also good for them to go somewhere else and make that decision.”

Lisa said she worries that if their children attend WSU, they’ll will be known as “Lisa and Will’s kid.”

“You don’t want them to ever look back and go, ‘I don’t think I ever earned that,’ or, ‘Maybe that person was hard on me because they didn’t like my mother,’” Lisa said. “You want them to make their own decisions without regret.”