Beloved President Emeritus of Geneva College Dr. W. Joseph McFarland joined his Father in Heaven on Friday, January 27, 2012.
Dr. McFarland was inaugurated as the 17th president of Geneva on October 27, 1984 during Homecoming, and served the college faithfully in that position until his retirement in 1992. During that time, Geneva tripled its endowment, added the Merriman addition to Metheny Fieldhouse, renovated both Old Main and Fern Cliffe, established the student honorary society Alpha Chi, and began a sister relationship with Christ’s College in Taipei, Taiwan.
Prior to being named president of Geneva, Dr. McFarland had served on Geneva’s board of trustees since 1973, and was the director of academic affairs for the State of Kansas Board of Regents since 1971.
A Kansas native, Dr. McFarland briefly attended Geneva before graduating from Sterling College in 1951. He received his Master of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado in 1957, and his Doctorate in Education from Indiana University in 1966.
Dr. McFarland served two years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps before working as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent in the Turon, Kansas Public Schools from 1953-1959. Following, he held various teaching and administrative positions at Emporia State University from 1959-1968. He was the associate secretary of the Kansas branch of the National Education Association from 1968-1971.
A letterman in football, baseball, basketball and tennis at Sterling, Dr. McFarland maintained a close connection to athletics as a football official at both the high school and college levels for 50 years.
As an active church member, Dr. McFarland served as a lay leader, elder and past chairman of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Topeka. He was also the Past President and member of the Board of Education and Publications of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.
Dr. McFarland served on the board of trustees for Sterling College for many years. In 1983, he received Sterling’s Distinguished Service Award.
A licensed pilot who flew Cessna 172 Skyhawks for many years, Dr. Mcfarland celebrated both his 70th and his 80th birthdays by skydiving.
He is survived by his wife, Roberta, and children William, Matthew ’81 and Kathy (McFarland ’78) Gardner, and grandchildren.
Dr. McFarland will be buried in Sterling, KS, on Thursday, February 2, 2012, and a memorial service will be held in Topeka, KS on Saturday, February 4, 2012.
Contributions in Dr. McFarland’s memory may be made to Geneva College, Sterling College or the Topeka Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Geneva awards bachelor's degrees in nearly 40 undergraduate major areas of study and offers seven master’s degree programs.