Kansas Wesleyan University has announced four new additions to its Board of Trustees. The board also has shared officers for the 2022-23 year.
The new trustees are Dennis Berndt ’92 (Salina, Kan.), Dr. Pamela Braxton Davis (Salina, Kan.), Dr. Karen Franzen Johnson ’68 (Lincoln, Calif.), and Rev. Karen Rice Ratzlaff (Hutchinson, Kan.).
“These four individuals join an excellent Board of Trustees,” said Dr. Matt Thompson, KWU president. “The leadership and acumen that the board has shown in recent years will be magnified by the talents of this group. We are thrilled to welcome them and look forward to their work on behalf of Kansas Wesleyan.”
The board’s officers are led by chair Barry Weis ’10, a local resident and director of sales and support at Blue Beacon Truck Wash. Jeffrey H. Bieber ’71 (Castle Rock, Colo.) is the immediate past chair, while Marilyn Foster Kirk ’68 (Evanston, Ill.) is the board’s vice chair. Emily-May Richards (Peoria, Ariz.) is the treasurer and Ken Ebert (Salina, Kan.) is the secretary. Both Richards and Ebert are past recipients of the Alumni by Choice distinction from the university.
At the final meeting for 2021-22, the board recognized Rev. Nathan Stanton ’91 in a special presentation to his widow, Brenda Stanton, and son Isaac Stanton. Stanton passed away in March after serving seven years on the board.
Four trustees were recognized as outgoing board members: Byron Norris ’72 (Salina, Kan.), Rev. Glenn Tombaugh ’74 (Wichita, Kan.), Steve Michel (Salina, Kan.), and Mary Quinley ’98 (Salina, Kan.). Together, these individuals represent 37 years of service to KWU and the board.
Full capsules on each of the new trustees appear below.
Dennis Berndt ’92 – Salina, Kan.
Berndt is the owner/manager of B&K Bail Bonds in Salina. He has a long family connection to KWU, as he is the grandson of former trustee Walker Briney. Both of his parents were alumni, as were an aunt, an uncle and several other family members.
Berndt holds his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from KWU. He just completed nine years on the KWU Foundation Board, where he served as the treasurer, chaired the Audit Committee, and served on the Finance and Investment Committee.
Pamela Braxton Davis, M.D. – Salina, Kan.
Davis’ specialty is diagnostic radiology, and she is affiliated with the Salina Regional Health Center and several regional medical facilities. She continues a family tradition of service to the KWU board, following her brother Dr. Mace Braxton, Jr., who served as trustee from 1999 until his death in 2005. Davis brings with her a deep commitment to serve her community.
Davis received her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine.
Karen Franzen Johnson ’68, Ed.D. – Lincoln, Calif.
Johnson is a retired education consultant and former school principal. The Franzen family has a deep KWU legacy. Its Coyote lineage dates back 60 years, and seven members of her family are KWU alumni. The Franzen family established a scholarship at KWU in honor of their mother, Ruby, to provide other first-generation college students the opportunity that was provided to them.
Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in History at KWU, her master’s degree from Syracuse University and her doctorate in Education Policy and Administration from the University of Southern California.
Rev. Karen Rice Ratzlaff – Hutchinson, Kan.
Following a career path into various forms of ministry extending more than 25 years, Rice Ratzlaff was installed as the district superintendent for Salina and Hutchinson for the United Methodist Church’s Great Plains Conference in 2021. Her leadership and ministry will continue the rich connection KWU has with the UMC.
Rice Ratzlaff earned a bachelor’s degree from Bethel College and her master’s degree from Saint Paul School of Theology. Her experience in working with underserved populations, as well as both large and small churches, demonstrates her passion for contributing to her community and church.
The Board of Trustees meets three times each year. The essential function of the Kansas Wesleyan University Board of Trustees is policymaking and assurance of sound management. The Board has initial and ultimate responsibility in determining general, educational, financial and related policies deemed necessary for the administration and development of Kansas Wesleyan University in accordance with its stated purposes and goals.