CAS dean candidate pushes to value diversity within WSU


Brianna Cook

Candidate for dean Jennifer Friend answers questions about how she would make the College of Applied Studies better.

One of poet and essayist  Henry David Thoreau’s quotes hangs in the office of Jennifer Friend, dean candidate for the College of Applied Studies, wherever her office may be at a given time. Thoreau’s work, “Walden” birthed a plethora of quotes on individuality, nature and self-reliance.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer,” Thoreau said. “Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
Friend attended a public forum on Monday, starting the discussion with Thoreau’s quote to sum up her values and aspirations for the CAS.
“What it speaks to me about … the College of Applied Studies is that thirst for innovation, for thinking outside of the box, for being able to take risks and being creative,” she said. “Having that different drummer to march to can sometimes lead to innovation and a thriving organization.”
Friend is the second out of four candidates to be interviewed for the position of dean of the CAS.
Currently an associate provost for academic affairs and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Rockhurst University, most of Friend’s career has been within Kansas City’s urban community. A tenured education professor, she also has hands-on experience with education, having served as a middle school teacher and principal for 13 years.
If elected dean, Friend said she would focus on fostering diversity, inclusion and innovation within the CAS.
Her projects have centered around the evolution of the civil rights movement, especially in urban areas. Currently, Friend is working on “Kansas City Speaks: Stories of School Desegregation,” an online archive of the ongoing history of desegregation within the Kansas City area.
According to Lainie Mazzullo, director of news and media relations, Provost Shirley Lefever is in charge of deciding who becomes dean.
“Following each of [the public forums], the participants are asked to provide feedback,” Mazzullo said via email. “The provost takes feedback into consideration when making a final decision.”
More information on Friend and her background can be found at
Information about the first candidate for the dean of CAS can be found at