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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘An incredible journey’: Dean of Libraries celebrates retiring after 43 years at WSU

Lydia Steeby
Kathy Downes, retiring dean of university libraries, speaks with a guest at her retirement reception on Aug. 31.

“She always had a solution,” President Rick Muma said about Kathy Downes at her retirement reception. “She always had something that she brought to me that helped move the library forward, and I appreciate that.”

Dean of Libraries Kathy Downes first came to Wichita State in 1979 as a biomedical librarian. 43 years later, she’s fulfilled a variety of roles including assistant dean, associate dean, and an interim dean. In 2017, she took on her final position as the dean of libraries on campus, which she will retire from this month. 

“Under Dean Downes’s leadership, the Ablah Library adapted over the years to meet the ever changing needs of students, faculty, staff and our community,” Shirley Lefever, provost and vice president of the university, said.

 Somes of the changes Downes pioneered include the Kathlien Edmiston 24-Hour Study Room and Milton A. and Dawn P. Messenger Digital Scholars Commons, according to WSUNews

But Downes was more than just a dean to her many friends and colleagues that attended her retirement reception, as pointed out by Lefever. 

“We’ll also be forever grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to work with her, to experience her grace and compassion, and frankly, her wisdom,” Lefever said. “We all know that Kathy has touched so many lives and built so many relationships here.”

Despite the event being intentionally kept private, the small room was nearly full to the brim, with no lack of laughter and celebration.

It’s been an incredible journey and pleasure and wonderful life here at Wichita State,” Downes said. “It’s given me the opportunity to grow in ways I never really anticipated. To meet so many people, many of whom are here today, that enriched my life, that gave me energy, gave me inspiration.

To read more about Downes’ journey and time at Wichita State, go here.

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About the Contributor
Lydia Steeby
Lydia Steeby, Reporter
Lydia Steeby is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. She's lived in Wichita her whole life and loves to be outside. A freshman, she is an undecided major exploring different career paths involving writing. Steeby also enjoys reading, playing the trumpet and making art.

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