History of the Adams Alumni Center

A place of their own

From Room 3 of Fraser Hall, a three-room suite in Strong Hall, the Sudler House, and the main floor of the Union, the KU Alumni Association finally found its home on the Hill. Formerly where the Alpha Chi Omega house once stood, the land at the corner of Oread Avenue and 13th Street was purchased to build a space for Jayhawks past and present.

In the words of Association President Dick Wintermote, c’51, the Alumni Association’s Planning and Building Committee sought to create “one of the most unique alumni centers on any campus in the nation – one that will house services for the entire University family instead of being just an office building for the Alumni Association.”  The result was the Adams Alumni Center.

Although Wintermote led the efforts to create the building, he would never occupy the President’s office. He instead chose for the building to be his legacy and retired right before the Center was completed.

Who is “Boots”?

The Adams Alumni Centerbuilding is dedicated to Kenneth Spencer “Boots” Adams. As a child, Adams wore his favorite pair of tiny black boots everywhere – including to bed. The nickname stuck until his death, and many did not even know what his real name was.

While Adams never graduated from the University of Kansas, he remains one of the most influential Jayhawks. He left before the start of his senior year to work and earn enough money to finish, but never made it back. Instead, he rose through the ranks of Phillips Petroleum Co. from warehouse clerk to CEO. Adams proved himself as not only a successful businessman, but also a widely-admired leader who trusted his employees to make good decisions.

Home sweet home

After almost 100 years without a permanent home, a symbolic groundbreaking for the Adams Alumni Center took place in 1981 during the halftime of the Kansas vs. Missouri football game.

In 1983 Alumni Association celebrated its centennial and formally dedicated the K.S. “Boots” Adams Alumni Center as a home for all Jayhawks.

The space continues to be a home for Jayhawks of all kinds. In addition to housing office space for the Alumni Association staff, the Center serves as a welcoming environment for KU alumni, students, faculty and staff.

“The K.S. ‘Boots’ Adams Alumni Center will, indeed, be a special place for KU’s alumni. Like all great buildings, it stands as a testament to many things. It stands in memory of the integrity and loyalty of the man whose name it bears. It stands as a tribute to the many alumni throughout the state and nation of who worked to make the dream a reality. And it stands as a lasting symbol of the generosity of the family of Boots Adams.” – Kansas Alumni Magazine, June 1983