News Items In Category XAlumni News

Unlikely football star lands in victory lane on NASCAR pit crew

Posted on Aug 13, 2018 in Alumni News

Staying competitive after football

At 6-feet-2, 250 pounds, former KU defensive lineman and part-time fullback TJ Semke knew he was just about the perfect size and body type to play fullback in the NFL. He also knew that NFL offenses no longer feature fullbacks, so career prospects were slim at best.

“That dream kind of died out,” Semke, d’16, says from the North Carolina headquarters of Hendrick Motorsports. “But I still wanted to do something that would keep me competitive and have that locker room feel, be around the guys, and NASCAR ended up being a good fit for that.”

Thrill of victory

Now in his second season with Hendrick Motorsports and his first on the pit crew team for Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet, Semke on Aug. 5 got to experience the thrill of victory when Elliott held off the determined Martin Truex Jr. on the Watkins Glen International road course.

TJ Semke | Courtesy Hendrick MotorsportsIt was win No. 1 for Elliott, a third-year driver and son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, and the 250th in the illustrious racing history of Hendrick Motorsports, and nobody celebrated more enthusiastically in victory lane than a jackman from Kansas City who just a few years earlier knew next to nothing about auto racing.

“It was pretty special for Chase to get his first win, and it was the 250th for the company, which is a big deal,” Semke says. “All the pieces fell together and it ended up being a big deal. It was definitely good vibes coming back to work on Monday.”

An unusual path

Even before he became a professional athlete in NASCAR, Semke’s route through athletics was unusual and his story unique.

Semke fractured a vertebra during his junior season at Lee’s Summit North High School; he made it through his senior season while constantly fighting through “a lot of issues with my discs.” When his doctors finally told him to stop playing football, Semke complied and turned down offers to play at Division II colleges.

He grew up a “big MU guy,” and shocked his family when he came to Lawrence and enrolled at KU as a full-time student.

“Something drew me there,” Semke says. “I liked the school when I went on a visit, so I just went there.”

Ripe for recruitment

An energetic and successful student in high school, Semke likewise threw himself into his studies on the Hill, and even worked part-time for his mother’s boyfriend’s bail bond business, tracking down absconders who skipped court dates.

Although work as a bounty hunter provided the occasional adrenaline rush he still craved, it wasn’t the same as football. After two years away from the sport, Semke was ripe for recruitment when he noticed a University Daily Kansan advertisement announcing open tryouts for football walk-ons.

He tried out during the spring of his sophomore year, made the team, and entered his junior year with sophomore standing in football. A natural fullback in a pro-style offense with little need for fullbacks, Semke fashioned himself a high-energy playmaker on special teams; during practice, though, he moved to the scout team’s defensive line.

Putting in the work

“I was a little bit undersized for that,” he says, “but I was just out there every day, working hard, making plays, and I kind of got noticed. So they thought, why don’t we give this a shot? That whole next spring, my redshirt junior year, they put in a lot of time with me, getting me ready to play, and I ended up starting the first six games of my junior year on the defensive line.”

After being featured in Sports Illustrated thanks to his bounty-hunter background, Semke played defensive end as a senior, along with fullback when necessary—like Turner Gill before him, coach Charlie Weis rarely featured fullbacks—and when his KU playing days were done Semke began focusing on the NFL. He performed well at his Pro Day workouts, earning a workout with the Kansas City Chiefs and a minicamp invitation from the New Orleans Saints.

Leaving football behind

Realistic about his chances, Semke left football behind for good when he was invited to join more than 100 other candidates for pit-crew tryouts at Hendrick headquarters.

Hendrick, it turns out, sends a pit-crew coach out on the road with its race teams, and he spends race weeks visiting collegiate football program near every track, searching for potential recruits. At Kansas Speedway, KU coaches put in a good word for Semke, touting his speed, strength, attitude and energy.

Semke lived up the billing he received from his former football coaches, and in spring 2016 he was introduced as one of five new pit crew recruits at Hendrick’s second Signing Day event.

He spent his first full season learning the jackman’s job on a variety of teams and racing series, and this year was named a full-time member on Elliott’s No. 9 Camaro.

TJ Semke | Courtesy Hendricks Motorsports

Steep learning curve

“TJ is a pretty special guy,” says veteran crew chief Alan Gustafson. “He’s physically gifted, to say the least, to be that big and that fast and strong. He’s a really competitive guy and a fun guy to have on our team. We’ve been really impressed with him and his ability with relatively no experience pitting the car. His learning curve has been amazing. We expect really big things from him in the future.”

Semke’s learning curve got steeper this season when NASCAR announced new pit-lane regulations that allowed for only five crew members over the wall during races, rather than the previous limit of six. That meant double-duty for someone on each crew, and Hendrick’s solution was to make the jackman also responsible for putting on tires, all within the 13-second timeframe of a high-pressure pit stop.

“You have double the work and you’re still trying to be fast,” Semke says. “It presented a lot of challenges, but that’s kind of what’s fun about it. We have a bunch of athletic guys who know how to adapt and change, so it worked out in our favor.”

Brains and brawn

As expected, Semke relishes the vigorous physical environment at Hendrick, where pit crews lift weights under the supervision of a team of trainers, go through full-speed pit training and even spend Mondays doing yoga to improve flexibility.

Perhaps not as expected, though, is the intelligence Semke brings to the team, which pays off in the team’s constant film study. He was named Academic All-Big 12 and graduated with at 3.1 GPA.

“A lot of people might look at me—the tattoos, and I’m a big, strong guy—and they might think, ‘Oh, this guy’s just a meathead, a cave-man type of guy, eats a bunch of meat.’ At a glance you might just think that’s what I am.

“But anything I do I want to be really good at it. I can hit the books and I can hit the weights, both. It definitely feels good to have a degree from the University of Kansas, that’s for sure.”

—Chris Lazzarino


WATCH:

TJ Semke, No. 9 team jackman, gives fans a closer look inside the Hendrick Motorsports heat training program.

 

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Flying Jayhawks cruise Alaska with Scot Pollard

Posted on Aug 12, 2018 in Alumni News

For the latest Flying Jayhawks trip, a special guest joined us as the trip’s host. Enjoy the story of the trip through Glacial Alaska, as only former KU basketball player and “Survivor” contestant Scot Pollard could tell it.

I had been to Alaska before but it was just to play basketball. When coaches take you on trips they tend to just give you an hour or two of “local stuff” and the rest is practice, rest, and making sure you’re in your bed when you’re supposed to be! Needless to say I hadn’t REALLY experienced Alaska before.

I can definitely say I have now! Wow! All ten days on board and off of our Oceania cruise ship and in the different ports, our group of flying Jayhawks could not avoid the beautiful scenery even if we wanted to.

Stop 1: Ketchikan

Flying Jayhawks Dana and Sue Anderson “kidnapped” my family and took us on a private fishing boat. All six of us caught our first salmon and a couple of us caught more than one for a total of 10. We didn’t lose one fish which made our captain, Ray, very surprised. The highlight of this day, though, didn’t happen in the water. It happened ON IT. Our captain asked if I would whistle at one of the bald eagles overhead. One was flying away but fairly close as I gave it a really loud whistle. Our national bird and a symbol of our country did a 180 and headed back toward us as my son Ozzy threw a frozen bait herring in the air. The fish landed about 30 feet from our boat and this amazing bald eagle swooped down and grabbed that fish right in front of all of us!

Glacial Alaska Scot Pollard

Stop 2: Juneau

It’s the capital of Alaska don’t “Juneau!”? Dad jokes aside, it was really cool to go to a city only reachable by boat or plane. We had originally planned to zip line here, but someone (me!) was too heavy to go. So we scrambled and ended up doing a 12-person canoe trip in a lake which happens to have a glacier running into it.

Highlights: paddling up to about 300 yards away (for safety) from Mendenhall Glacier which was spectacular. Paddling near a waterfall called Nugget falls and getting sprayed just a little with 35 degree water.

Lowlights: Some people don’t paddle much or with everyone else, therefore making it harder to paddle across a two mile wide lake.

Did I mention the water was 35 degrees? Yeah it was cold on the lake despite the 65 degree day.

Glacial Alaska Scot Pollard

Stop 3: Haines

Bald eagles, bald eagles, and more bald eagles. Due to our encounter with the bald eagle on the fishing trip, we were a little spoiled but still enjoyed our float trip down the Chilkat River in the Eagle Preserve. We were lucky enough to share a raft with flying Jayhawks Virginia Crane and Joan Treece.

Our pilot was Dr. Scott Ramsey, and if you ever go on this adventure, make sure he’s your guide. Not only was he knowledgeable, but he was funny and put up with our incessant questions and quest for the perfect river rock to take as a souvenir. There are only about 2,500 residents in Haines, and most of them leave for the winter, so there isn’t a whole lot to do there besides fish. And there’s always fishing. If you get bored of fishing, there’s fishing there. They pride themselves on being “salmon snobs” there. There are certain types of salmon they just won’t eat. Here’s a hint: most of that type of salmon is what we eat in the lower 48 states.

Oh yeah, and we saw about 60 bald eagles!

At sea sailing up to Hubbard Glacier: we had to keep our distance from the glacier as it routinely “calves” ice bergs the size of ten story buildings! We didn’t see any that big, but there were several small ones during our visit. This glacier is about 76 miles long and growing! By 2025 it’s predicted that it will close off the bay we were in entirely.

Glacial Alaska Scot Pollard

This day was absolutely eye candy. The sky was perfectly blue the entire time, which we were told is rare in that area. The glacier sparkled in the sun, the icebergs we floated past were amazing. One even broke in half right in front of the ship, revealing its center which looked like gemstones. The ice is 400 years old, and has been compressed so much the air is mostly pushed out, which is why it has that color.

After getting an eyeful and filling our cameras memories with pictures, we sailed away to our next stop. The temperature was in the 70’s which meant that in the protected pool area in the top/middle of the ship it felt like 80’s. Of course a few of us got our swimsuits on and enjoyed the hot tub, sailing away from a glacier, in Alaska.

Not a bad day.

Glacial Alaska Scot Pollard

Stop 4: Icy Straight Point in Hoonah

This was my favorite stop. This island features tides that change up to 30 feet four times a day. When our ship docked at 7 a.m., we were able to walk the gangplank to the new dock to get to land. Within an hour, the tide dropped so much that the gangplank was unusable and guests had to board tenders (lifeboats) to get to shore until the tide returned later in the afternoon. We boarded a tram to take a ride through rainforest (yes, rainforest. The Tongass National Park in Alaska is the largest national forest in America. It is also Earths largest temperate rainforest. And my kids thought they were just on this cruise to have fun.) Our team stopped near the “beach” which was a rocky shoreline. We looked for rocks and chatted with the locals from our tram. Then we headed back to where we started for a show.

The natives here are the Tlingit tribe. They were natives of a different area across the bay, but according to their oral history they were pushed off of their native land by a glacier and had to settle here. We learned this and much more in a show we watched with fellow Flying Jayhawks John and Donna Ward and (can’t remember her name!) and Steve (last name). The show was performed by high school aged descendants of the tribe, mostly full blooded members, and narrated by an elder member. Because they hold their history sacred, we were not allowed to video or take pictures of the show, which I thought was very special. They danced, we danced, we listened, and we enjoyed their wonderful history.

This place was also home to the world’s largest “ZipRider” which is a harness version of zip lining. Guess who wasn’t allowed to go again? Yep, the giant guy. Not only was I too heavy but the girl working it said it didn’t matter because I was too tall as well. Giant problems…

On our walk back to the ship we stopped to talk with our fellow Jayhawks who had settled down near the ocean with a pitcher of beer to muse about the show we had just witnessed. My son was skipping rocks into the ocean just ahead when three whales breached about 25 feet off shore right in front of him! We ran down, cameras in hand and got a picture of one of the whales flukes (tails). This shows how close to shore they were.

Glacial Alaska Scot Pollard
How were they this close, you ask? Many years ago glaciers carved deep trenches in this area. This made it so that just off shore the ocean floor can be as deep as 800 feet!

From learning about a culture I didn’t know existed to their land and it’s climate to whales popping up to say hello just a few feet away, yeah, definitely my favorite stop!

Stop 5: Sitka

Sitka was founded by Russians. Although my family was annoyed, other people at least tolerated the giant guy who wouldn’t stop talking with the bad Russian accent. We spent most of the day aboard a boat spotting whales, otters, sea lions, dolphins and yes, more bald eagles. Due to our earlier experiences with both the eagles and the whales, we were again a little spoiled on this trip.

Although it was nice, we wish we had spent the day in Sitka learning about the city and its history. We didn’t have enough time to do so after our trip due to needing to be back on the ship so our Sitka experience was limited.

Glacial Alaska Scot Pollard

I won best dressed.

The topics included the NCAA, the big 12, television and its impact on amateur athletics, as well as AAU and its effect on basketball specifically (I hate it). There were great points brought up and debates had.

Last stop: Victoria BC

We boarded a bus and got a wonderful tour of some highlights of Victoria on the way to the Burchart Gardens. The area used to be a rock quarry once upon a time and once the limestone was all taken out was abandoned. Well the Burcharts of the early 1900’s wouldn’t have that and created this: “The sunken garden”.

I never thought I would appreciate walking through several different gardens and so many flowers, but it smelled wonderful and the sun was shining (every day of this trip but one!), in fact I was wearing a tank top and shorts! On the way back our bus went through downtown and next to the bay which made us wish we had more time to spend in that beautiful city. Therefore, like Sitka, it will probably be a future stop for the Pollards.

It made a great last stop though and provided a great “frame” for our trip. (Sorry, one last dad joke).

Glacial Alaska Scot Pollard

If you haven’t considered a trip with the Flying Jayhawks, do so. If you have considered it, pull the trigger. You will not regret it. We had a blast getting to know our fellow alumni and experiencing the wonders and history of Alaska with them. Oceania cruise line is the best cruise line I’ve been on from the food to the service to the accommodations. A trip with perfect weather, venues, nature, and travel companions? Yes, sign me up again! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

The Flying Jayhawks trip “Big 12 Glacial Alaska” took place July 13-23, 2018, and was hosted by Scot Pollard! View more photos from the trip; pictures may be downloaded for personal use. Find more information about Flying Jayhawks trips, including a schedule, or sign up for travel emails.

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Jayhawks in the News | July 20

Posted on Jul 20, 2018 in Alumni News

KU campus graphics | www.kualumni.org | Jayhawks in the News

Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our weekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes. If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at share@kualumni.org.

 

Catching up with Perry Ellis in Las Vegas | The Wichita Eagle

Wichita native and former KU standout Perry Ellis, ’16, reflects on his basketball career in Las Vegas, where he’s playing with the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2018 NBA Summer League.
Read full article.

 

Interim provost partners with KU alumni to create drug addiction treatment, research center | University Daily Kansan

Two University alumni have partnered with Interim Provost Carl Lejuez to open a treatment center at the University to fight the national opioid epidemic. A $2 million contribution from Glady Cofrin and Daniel Logan made the center possible.
Read full article.

 

Steinbock Joins Razorbacks | Arkansas Razorbacks

Courtney Steinbock, c’05, has been named the sixth head coach in Arkansas women’s tennis history. “In her successful coaching career, Courtney has displayed the same on court passion and competitive spirit that made her an outstanding student-athlete at the University of Kansas,” Hunter Yurachek, University of Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics, said.
Read full article.

 

Woodfin appoints director of cultural preservation to oversee Gaston Motel renovations | Alabama

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin created the position of director of cultural preservation. Denise E. Gilmore, b’77, was appointed to the role and started in July, according to the mayor’s office. “It’s important that we have someone in place to oversee the preservation and promotion of our local treasures, which is why I deemed it necessary to have someone like Denise Gilmore take the lead on this initiative,” Woodfin said in a statement.
Read full article.

 

46 Days Until Kansas Football: The Lost Jayhawks – An Interview with Kevin Kopp | Rock Chalk Talk

Get to know Kevin Kopp, a defensive lineman at KU from 1993-1996. Kopp played on the 1995 team that went 10-2 and won the Aloha Bowl.
Read full article.

 

Name Dropping – Symphony Ball | The Independent

Mary, f’65, and John M. Edgar, b’65, will serve as the honorary chairmen of the 2018 Symphony Ball, “To Paris With Love,” presented by the Symphony League of Kansas City. It will be held September 8 at The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center.
Read full article.

 

Allstate & AFCA Announce 2018 Good Works Team® Nominees | AFCA Insider

Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) announced 169 nominees for the2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®.  The list of nominees includes Kansas football player Joe Dineen, b’18.
Read full article.

 

Derek Bridges Hired as President of BML and President of Channel Management for ValueHealth  | Markets Insider

ValueHealth CEO Carl King announced the hiring of Derek Bridges, b’99, as President of Benefit Management. Mr. Bridges will replace outgoing Benefit Management President Denise Wilkens and will be responsible for providing strategic leadership for the company and for ensuring that company financial objectives are met.
Read full article.

 

Dr. Karen Cox Named President of Chamberlain University | Career Education Review

Adtalem Global Education announced Dr. Karen Cox, PhD, RN, FACHE, FAAN, n’83, as the new President of Chamberlain University, and she will begin her leadership on August 27, 2018. Dr. Cox is a highly accomplished nursing and healthcare leader, who most recently served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Children’s Mercy – Kansas City, an independent, academic medical center in Missouri.
Read full article.

 

Former KU guard Ben McLemore headed back to Sacramento in two-team trade | KUSports.com

The Memphis Grizzlies are down a Jayhawk and Ben McLemore is headed back to the place where he began his NBA career.
Read full article.

 

Former chancellor Shankel remembered for his devotion to KU, students | Lawrence-Journal World

Just call him “Mr. Jayhawk.” That’s how Heath Peterson describes former two-time University of Kansas Chancellor Delbert “Del” Shankel, who died Thursday, July 12, at age 90. It was Shankel who convinced KU Alumni Association leadership to promote Peterson, then a part-time student worker at the Adams Alumni Center, to his first permanent position with the association in 2004, Peterson said.
Read full article.

 

Charlie Hustle to sell T-shirts inspired by classic designs for KU fans | University Daily Kansan

Charlie Hustle, a T-shirt company inspired by classic designs from sports and popular culture, opened a shop inside McLain’s Market. Based in Kansas City, Charlie Hustle is owned by Chase and Holly McAnulty, f’10.
Read full article.

Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.

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Allen Fieldhouse East? Shawnee Jayhawk builds a KU dream garage

Posted on Jul 19, 2018 in Alumni News

The exterior of Rory Ramsdell's KU garage, which is a replica of Allen Fieldhouse on the inside.

It looks like a normal garage from the outside. Maybe it’s to keep the neighbors happy.

Inside, though, Rory Ramsdell’s two-year project of the ultimate KU garage is complete. His daughters now park in the middle of Allen Fieldhouse.

The big build

“I’ve envisioned this for a long time,” said Ramsdell, e’93. “I wanted to build a multipurpose garage with a gym atmosphere.”

The Shawnee resident built the entire building himself. Ramsdell drew on his experience as a mechanical engineer to design the structure, and he tried his hand at amateur photography for the Fieldhouse photos. He printed large sizes of the photos to cover the walls.

Highlights of the project include a programmable scoreboard, lockers for each family member, a TV for watch parties, and a ceiling covered in hand-sewn banners.

The Ramsdells loves hosting friends and family in the garage to watch games and entertain. Pickup games are also known to break out; there’s a hoop, plenty of balls in the lockers, and court lines painted on the concrete floor.

KU ties

Allen Fieldhouse is special to plenty of Jayhawks, but Ramsdell put in time there as a student behind the scenes.

“I played baseball at KU, and my student work-study program was to do the baseball team laundry, which at the time was in the Fieldhouse. So I was there late at night doing laundry and homework, and sometimes the basketball players would ask me to rebound, maybe play 3 on 3 with them.”

Rory’s love for KU is matched by his family, especially with his daughter Raegan starting at KU in the fall.

“I’m really excited for her future, and hope she has as good of a time as I did as a student.”

Photos:

KU Alumni

Powered by flickr embed.

—Ryan Camenzind

If this story seems familiar, that’s because it is: KU fans love to pay tribute to the nation’s best home court! If you have a KU fan room of your own, send pictures to share@kualumni.org.

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Omaha Jayhawks connect at network happy hour

Posted on Jul 19, 2018 in Alumni News

Omaha Jayhawks connect at network happy hour

Summer on the road: Omaha Jayhawks

The KU Alumni Association’s summer on the road continues! The alumni networks team has visited Jayhawks in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and most recently, Omaha.

Omaha is home to 1,700 alumni, including network leader Holly Currie. Currie, c’09, g’10, organizes watch parties for KU games at the Good Life Bar and Grill. “The watch parties and the network have grown exponentially with Holly,” said Grace Knott, h’78. “She chose a great location.”

The happy hour brought together Omaha residents of all ages and levels of knowledge about their city. Knott has lived in Omaha for 40 years, while Ashlee Duffy, c’01, just moved to the city from Alabama this month.

The trips are part of a summer-long effort to encourage Jayhawks to volunteer in their local networks. “The best kind of event you can organize is one you are passionate about,” said Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs.

More trips are in store, with Woods visiting Oklahoma City and Tulsa next week.

—Ryan Camenzind

Check out the KU Alumni Association calendar for more upcoming events. For more on how to volunteer in your network and the types of events you can help coordinate, visit the network volunteer page.

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The Searcher

Posted on Jul 13, 2018 in Alumni News

Jeff Long's introductory press conference July 11 | Drue Jennings
Jeff Long vividly recalls the moment he decided he wanted to join KU as the next athletics director. It wasn’t about the chance to renovate a football program, or wins and losses, dollars and cents, academic reputation or even quality of life in Lawrence.

All played a factor, but only came into play after he’d met two men dispatched to make KU’s pitch: A. Drue Jennings, d’68, l’72, who chaired the search process, and Vice Chancellor Reggie Robinson, c’80, l’87, who served as Chancellor Doug Girod’s representative.

Drue Jennings at Jeff Long's introductory press conference July 11“From the moment I met them, I knew I was meeting with two men who have deep love for Kansas, deep love for this University, and it had an immediate impact on me,” Long said at his July 11 introductory news conference. “I thought, you know what, if these are the type of people who are at Kansas, then this is the kind of place I want to be.”

Jennings, former chairman and CEO of Kansas City Power & Light, said at Long’s news conference that he learned early on in the search that “this chancellor means business. As pleasant and human as he may appear, which he is, he does indeed mean business.” Which is exactly the signal that Girod sent when he told the University community—on the day he relieved Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, of his duties—that he’d already asked Jennings to lead the search for Zenger’s replacement.

He means business.

Filling the void

Even a cursory summary of Jennings’ honors and volunteer service to the University and charitable organizations throughout Kansas City would run for pages. Suffice, then, to note that when Jennings was awarded what was then the University and Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Citation, in 1999, he had yet to lead even a single prominent leadership search on KU’s behalf.

Four years later, in 2003, Chancellor Robert E. Hemenway asked Jennings to fill a leadership void and step in as interim athletics director, and Jennings promptly hired Bill Self to coach men’s basketball. “I don’t think they had a search when they hired me,” Self says. “Just Drue.”

When Hemenway announced his retirement, the Kansas Board of Regents in 2008 asked Jennings to lead the search for KU’s next chancellor, which culminated in the hiring of Bernadette Gray-Little. And now he’s done it yet again, responding to Girod’s call to find the next leader of Kansas Athletics.

“He literally dropped everything,” Girod said.

“Unwavering steadiness”

So who is this Jayhawk behind the scenes, and why have the Regents and University repeatedly turned to him in times of transition?

Robinson cites Jennings’ “unwavering steadiness.” Deputy Athletics Director Sean Lester, who served as interim director until Long’s hiring, says Jennings delivers “instant integrity, instant command, instant credibility.”

Says Robinson, “We trust not only his talent and his expertise, but also the way that his heart is leading him in a way that aims to do what’s best for the University. He clearly, to the benefit of whatever process he’s leading, conveys this sense of real gravitas to candidates we’re talking to. They know that they’re meeting with somebody of great substance, and that helps us. You look at the kind of people KU tries to attract, having somebody like Drue sit on our side of the table, with all of the capacity and gravitas that he brings, it’s hard to beat.”

Rising through the ranks

After graduating from Argentine High School, Jennings came to KU on a football scholarship, and eventually moved back to Kansas City to put his education degree to work as a teacher at Wyandotte High School. He returned to KU for law school, and in 1974 joined KCP&L as an attorney, advancing through the ranks to become CEO in 1988 and chairman of the board in 1991. After his retirement from KCP&L, Jennings was named senior counsel at the Kansas City law firm Polsinelli, from which he has since retired.

His service to KU has included five years on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors; three years as chair of the KU Medical Advancement Board, of which he was a founding member; and four years as chair of the KU Endowment board, which Jennings continues to serve as a trustee.

“I tend to trust my gut”

Jennings concedes that technology has, in some respects, changed the nature of executive searches: “In today’s world of information access, you can find out amazing things about people. It doesn’t matter who they are. And, frankly, anyone who wants to do that type of exploring can do it.”

But, after the “measurable and visible data about the person and their life” have been gathered and closely studied, the next step is decidedly old school.

“Meet them,” Jennings says. “There’s nothing quite like looking into the eyes, visiting and reading the body language of a person. And that’s been true my entire life. I tend to trust my gut, trust my instincts.”

A solid person

As he tried to exit the Lied Center Pavilion and catch a flight for a recruiting trip, Self found himself swarmed by reporters, friends and colleagues; he was reluctant to pause even for a second to answer any more questions, but stopped and smiled when told the subject of this final query: For Drue Jennings, Bill Self has all the time in the world.

“The thing with Drue is, he knows this place probably about as well as anybody over the last four or five decades,” Self said. “I think he understands the business aspect of it, and he certainly understands the athlete experience aspect of it. And, to me, what Drue brings to the table is, he’s been very successful in his professional life, but he’s also a really solid person who would value a lot of his own characteristics.”

Ah, so there it is, the secret to Jennings’ search successes: Just find somebody like himself. Easier said than done, but a worthy goal regardless. Because he means business.

—Chris Lazzarino

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Jayhawks in the News | July 13

Posted on Jul 13, 2018 in Alumni News

KU campus graphics | www.kualumni.org | Jayhawks in the News

Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our weekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes. If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at share@kualumni.org.

 

KU’s Del Shankel — who served as chancellor twice — dies at age 90 | Kansas City Star

Delbert Shankel, the only person to serve as chancellor of the University of Kansas twice, died July 12 at age 90. Shankel was acting chancellor during the 1980-81 school year. In 1994, when Gene Budig left, Shankel served again until Robert Hemenway became chancellor in 1995.
Read full article.

 

Shawnee resident, KU alumnus Rory Ramsdell makes “Mini Allen Fieldhouse” out of new garage | Shawnee Dispatch

Shawnee resident and former KU baseball player Rory Ramsdell recently completed a two-year project. Ramsdell built a garage for his teenage daughters and turned it into a mini Allen Fieldhouse.
Read full article.

 

Three Jayhawks to be added to KU’s Ring of Honor in 2018 | KSN.com

Kansas football alumni Chris Harris Jr., Todd Reesing, and Larry Brown will be added to the Ring of Honor this season. KU will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 team that earned a trip to the Orange Bowl, as well as the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 Insight Bowl Champions.
Read full article.

 

Researchers improve conductive property of graphene, advancing promise of solar technology | University of Kansas

In 2010, the Nobel Prize in Physics went to the discoverers of graphene. Now, two researchers from the University of Kansas, Professor Hui Zhao and graduate student Samuel Lane, both of the Department of Physics & Astronomy, are working to use graphene in solar panels.
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Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.

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Remembering Chancellor Shankel

Posted on Jul 12, 2018 in Alumni News

Del Shankel
Dear Jayhawks,

The University family lost an extraordinary Jayhawk and truly dedicated leader early this morning, when Chancellor Emeritus Del Shankel died in Lawrence. Shankel twice led KU through pivotal transitions as interim chancellor, from 1980 to ’81 and 1994 to ’95. The Kansas Board of Regents officially designated him KU’s 15th chancellor in 1995.

Del ShankelDel began his KU teaching career in 1959 in the department of microbiology. He rose quickly to professor and earned numerous teaching awards, while also serving in interim roles as dean, athletics director, vice chancellor for academic affairs, executive vice chancellor, and, for six months in 2004, interim president of the Alumni Association. With his trademark wisdom, humor and compassion, Del guided the Association through a critical transition. I met him when I worked as a student employee of the Association, and through the years he has graciously offered his trusted counsel and encouragement to me and to many members of our staff. All of KU’s recent chancellors have relied on Del as a special adviser and confidante whose dedication and knowledge of KU are unsurpassed. In 2010, KU dedicated the Delbert M. Shankel Structural Biology Center on West Campus.

The Alumni Association’s staff, national Board of Directors and loyal alumni everywhere remain forever grateful to Del, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Carol, daughters Kelley and Jill, and his entire family. There is no better Jayhawk than Del.

Rock Chalk,

Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09

President

Chancellors Archie Dykes, Del Shankel, Bernadette Gray-Little, Gene Budig, Robert E. Hemenway at the Oread Hotel for the Hilltop Honors reception
Chancellors Archie Dykes, Del Shankel, Bernadette Gray-Little, Gene Budig, Robert E. Hemenway at the Oread Hotel for the Hilltop Honors reception in 2010.

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Joyce Davis Pulley earns Wintermote Award

Posted on Jul 10, 2018 in Alumni News

Joyce Davis Pulley faced a big challenge when she joined the Sacramento Jayhawks: a small group of alumni far away from Lawrence.

Her hard work connecting KU graduates and fans in the area paid off. As a result, the KU Alumni Association is proud to present her with the 2018 Dick Wintermote Volunteer of the Year Award.

Pulley, c’77, moved to Sacramento in 1997 and has organized watch parties and other alumni events for Jayhawks since 1999.

Nick Kallail, assistant vice president of alumni and network programs, is impressed with Pulley’s efforts.

“Sacramento checks in with just under 600 alumni within 25 miles, but always compares favorably in event attendance and network Facebook activity with much larger groups,” said Kallail.

“The great connections within this network and love for KU was shared with Jayhawk Nation at the KU/Stanford Basketball game played in Sacramento this past December and is a testimony to the great volunteer work Joyce has done for the KU Alumni Association.”

Kallail will present the award to Pulley at a summer happy hour July 11.

About the award

The award is named for Dick Wintermote, c’51, who served as the executive director of the Association from 1963 to 1983. His legacy represents the importance of building a strong volunteer network, the need for a dues-paying membership program and establishing the KU Alumni Association as one of the premier associations of graduates in the country.

—Ryan Camenzind

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Jayhawks in the News | July 6

Posted on Jul 6, 2018 in Alumni News

KU campus graphics | www.kualumni.org | Jayhawks in the News

Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our weekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes. If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at share@kualumni.org.

 

KC’s Paul Rudd opens up about his superpowers: Ant-Man, Big Slick and eternal youth | Kansas City Star

Paul Rudd, who grew up in Overland Park and attended the University of Kansas, has roles in two new movies. He reprises his role in “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” a sequel he co-wrote. And, he portrays real-life secret agent Moe Berg in “The Catcher Was a Spy.” Read more about his thoughts on superheroes, eternal youth, and Worlds of Fun.
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‘Pay feed’ at alumni’s replicated Allen Fieldhouse | University Daily Kansan

They’re back: Jarrod and Kate Williams are featured in the campus newspaper. A few weeks ago, the pair became famous among Jayhawks for their “Alhen Fieldhouse,” a chicken coop created in the likeness of Allen Fieldhouse.
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Trinity University names first general counsel | Trinity University

Rachel Rolf, a graduate of KU Law School, was named as Trinity University’s first in-house attorney. Rolf has most recently served as KU’s interim general counsel. Trinity University’s president is Danny Anderson, who formerly served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the university.
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Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.

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