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A message of support from KU leaders

Posted on Mar 26, 2020 in Alumni News

Strong Hall Jayhawk

Leaders from the University of Kansas, the KU Alumni Association and KU Endowment shared the following message on Thursday, March 26.

Dear KU Alumni,

Our thoughts are with the worldwide Jayhawk family as we all navigate these uncertain weeks. Thankfully, our sadness, loss and fear are tempered by compassion, dedication and hope. In the midst of crisis, alumni and donors have reached out asking how they can help. We’ve seen students volunteer to help our most vulnerable citizens, and Jayhawks everywhere are connecting with and supporting one another and their larger communities as we all rapidly adjust our daily lives. We are grateful for your genuine concern and spirit. In response, we’ve identified three meaningful ways to help in the short term:

Nationally, regionally, and locally there is a shortage of N95 respirators, isolation gowns, isolation masks, surgical masks, and eye protection. If you or someone you know lives near KU and has access to personal protective equipment (PPE) or manufacturing expertise in plastics, textiles and/or 3D printing, please contact: Your contribution and assistance during this critical time will help keep our healthcare workers safe and decrease the spread of COVID-19.

Also, a COVID-19 Emergency Relief fund has been established by KU Endowment to help meet the University’s most pressing needs during this crisis. As with all donations to KU Endowment, 100% of funds raised will go to support KU.

Finally, we’ve been humbled and heartened by stories of hope and resilience from throughout our KU family. We want to hear what you and others are doing to make a difference in the lives of those affected. Please send your stories to

In closing, we hope you’ll enjoy this video message that was shared with the University community today at, and please remember: As we come together to lift our communities, we show the world what it means to be a Jayhawk.

With gratitude,

Douglas Girod
Chancellor, University of Kansas

Dale Seuferling
President, KU Endowment

Heath Peterson
President, KU Alumni Association

Rock Chalk Ball canceled due to pandemic

Posted on Mar 24, 2020 in News

Eulich Jayhawk Adams Alumni Center | | Rock Chalk Ball canceled

The following message was sent March 24 to alumni and friends registered for the 2020 Rock Chalk Ball. 

Dear Jayhawk,

Thank you for generously purchasing tickets and/or hosting a table for the KU Alumni Association’s 25th annual Rock Chalk Ball scheduled for Saturday, May 2, at the LEX event space in downtown Kansas City.

Unfortunately, the Association must cancel the event. As I shared in my March 13 message to all alumni, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prevents us from gathering as a Jayhawk family. The Association has canceled all in-person events through May 12, in coordination with the University of Kansas and following the guidance of public health officials.

In addition to gathering Jayhawks to celebrate KU, proceeds from the Rock Chalk Ball allow us to make investments to strengthen the University of Kansas, connect a global network of Jayhawks, and sustain a strong, vibrant alumni association.

As we explore options for uniting Jayhawks online through a virtual event, we ask you that you choose one of the following options for your ticket and/or table purchase and send your request to Michelle Lang at

1. Request a full refund of your purchase

2. Donate your purchase as a 100% tax-deductible gift to sustain the Association’s efforts to strengthen the University, including the Jayhawk Career Network, Student Alumni Network, Advocacy, Outreach in Kansas, and student recruitment

3. Forward your purchase as your reservation for the 2021 Rock Chalk Ball

If you have not submitted payment at this time, you do not need to reach out to Michelle. We appreciate your interest and hope you will join us next year.

As the Association’s senior staff team continues to work with the national Board of Directors and the Kansas City Network Board to determine next steps, we will post new information at and on our social media channels. Additional information on the KU community’s responses to the pandemic can be found at and

We deeply appreciate your KU loyalty, and we extend our warmest wishes to you and your loved ones at this difficult time.


Heath Peterson

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Association announces limited operations due to COVID-19

Posted on Mar 16, 2020 in Alumni News

Eulich Jayhawk Adams Alumni Center | | KUAA announces limited operations due to COVID-19

Amid the challenges and uncertainty related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in keeping with the evolving recommendations issued by the University and public health agencies, the KU Alumni Association is operating with a minimal staff. We also are limiting physical access to the Association’s headquarters in the Adams Alumni Center in Lawrence.

If you have an urgent need, please call 785-864-4760 to leave a message, or email Someone will respond as soon as possible.

The decision to limit operations follows the changes we announced to alumni Friday, March 13. Visit for information and resources regarding Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

We apologize for any inconvenience, and we look forward to serving and uniting the Jayhawk community after the virus is no longer a public health crisis. We hope you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe.

KU Alumni message regarding COVID-19

Posted on Mar 13, 2020 in Campus News

Eulich Jayhawk Adams Alumni Center |

On Friday, March 13, Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, KU Alumni Association President shared the following message with the KU Alumni community.

Dear Jayhawks,

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread worldwide, our thoughts go out to all who have been affected by the pandemic. Unfortunately, these uncertain times require us to forgo opportunities to gather as a Jayhawk family in order to protect the health and safety of all. In coordination with the University of Kansas, and following the guidance of public health officials, the KU Alumni Association will cancel in-person events, including:

  • all official alumni network activities nationwide
  • Student Alumni Network events
  • Adams Alumni Center activities

In addition, Alumni Association staff members have canceled all business-related travel outside Kansas and Missouri.

These cancellations will remain in effect until May 12 per University guidelines as we explore additional ways to connect Jayhawks online. Our senior staff team will meet weekly to monitor developments and adapt event schedules as needed, and we will continue to share those decisions, posting updates on our website at We truly appreciate our loyal volunteers’ efforts to unite Jayhawks in their communities, and we look forward to the time when we can resume our regular activities.

The University announced March 11 that the resumption of all in-person classes would be delayed until March 23. Beginning the week of March 23, all courses will be taught remotely using online tools, and beginning March 28, the University each week will re-evaluate the need to continue remote-only instruction. KU’s web page,, will continue to be a helpful resource in the weeks ahead.

The University of Kansas community extends worldwide, and many Jayhawks no doubt are coping with personal and professional challenges. We extend our warmest wishes to you and your loved ones.


Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09



Student Alumni Network message regarding COVID-19

Posted on Mar 13, 2020 in Campus News

On Thursday, March 12, Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, KU Alumni Association President and Megan McGinnis, Assistant Director of Student Programs, shared the following message with Student Alumni Network members.

Dear Students,

Our thoughts go out to all who have been affected by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). In coordination with the University’s decision to conduct classes online, we will cancel all Student Alumni Network events for the next 60 days to further protect our Jayhawk community. These include the Mocktails & Mingle for Architecture on March 18, Wine & Wax on March 19, and Big Jay’s Recess on April 2.

In addition to continuing your classes online, you can stay connected to Jayhawk alumni through KU Mentoring.

Please do all you can to remain healthy and safe. Watkins Health Services offers helpful guidance for reducing your risks and taking steps if you experience symptoms.

Your well-being remains our top priority during this challenging time.

Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09
KU Alumni Association President

Megan McGinnis
Assistant Director of Student Programs

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Important message from the University regarding COVID-19

Posted on Mar 12, 2020 in Campus News

Strong Hall

On Wednesday, March 11, Chancellor Douglas A. Girod and Provost Barbara A. Bichelmeyer shared the following message to students, faculty and staff.

KU leaders have been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. We know that some members of the Jayhawk community have been in areas with reported cases, and we don’t expect to be immune from this virus. We have a strong team that is assessing conditions regionally and across the nation and is making recommendations guided by the following principles:

  1. Keep KU open so it can provide services to the fullest extent possible given unprecedented circumstances.
  2. Maintain continuity of operations that support the academic and research missions of the university.
  3. Prevent the spread of the disease at KU and beyond.
  4. Protect members of the KU community through self-quarantine and social distancing, especially the three groups at greatest risk:
    • those who may have been exposed,
    • those who have chronic health challenges,
    • those who are currently sick.
  5. Encourage all members of the KU community to be informed and practice healthy behaviors by following CDC recommendations.
  6. Protect equity for our most vulnerable employees and students, as much as possible, as we respond to the situation.
  7. Respond with agility to the fluid and changing nature of the situation.
  8. Provide clear communications to all members of the KU community.
  9. Provide exceptions for mission-critical activities on a case-by-case basis.

Delayed Resumption of In-person Classes Until March 23

To help protect the health of all members of our community, including those who may be at higher risk of the effects of COVID-19, the resumption of in-person classes will be delayed until March 23.

Next week, March 16-22, we ask that faculty prepare to transition their course content, including lectures, to online instructional platforms, such as Blackboard. Every KU course already has an existing Blackboard shell available for faculty to start the process. Beginning the week of March 23, courses will be taught remotely using online tools. We anticipate needing to stay online for several weeks, however, our team will reassess the need to continue remote-only instruction each week, starting March 28. There will be no schedule change to courses already online.

This approach limits in-person exposure after spring break to align with the estimated COVID-19 incubation period, and allows faculty members a modest amount of time to prepare and begin the transition to online instruction. It also keeps the university functioning and helps students continue toward their educational goals.

For more of the University’s statement and resources from professional health services, visit


Update regarding Big 12 and NCAA Championships

From Kansas Athletics:

In addition to the actions taken today by the Big 12 Conference and NCAA, Kansas Athletics will cancel all planned fan activities surrounding the men’s and women’s Big 12 and NCAA Basketball Championships, including pregame parties and pep rallies.

If you purchased Big 12 Tournament tickets through the Kansas Athletics Ticket Office, you will receive a refund for games impacted by the Big 12 Conference’s decision.

Read more of the statement from Kansas Athletics, as well as the statements from the Big 12 Commissioner and the NCAA president. 

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Alumni Association announces partnership with Kansas Lottery

Posted on Mar 3, 2020 in News

Jayhawk trailer

Kansas Lottery, the agency that oversees popular cash-reward games and casinos in the Sunflower State, has partnered with the University of Kansas Alumni Association to provide prize packages for two of the Alumni Association’s largest annual fundraising events, the Rock Chalk Ball in Kansas City and the Jayhawk Roundup in Wichita. The partnership also includes the lottery’s “Powered By” designation on the Alumni Association mobile app and an investment in a comprehensive digital marketing package.

“We’re thrilled to bring Kansas Lottery into the Alumni Association family this year,” said Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, Alumni Association president. “The lottery’s generous investment helps us enhance and build valuable programs and services for alumni, students and fans throughout Kansas and beyond.”

“Our partnership with the KU Alumni Association gives us the opportunity to connect with our players in new and exciting ways, while supporting the fine work the Association does in Kansas,” said Stephen Durrell, c’92, executive director of the Kansas Lottery and a lifetime Association member. “We are excited about this opportunity and what it affords the Lottery and the Alumni Association.”


Why would you not want to go to Antarctica?

Posted on Feb 21, 2020 in News

Before my trip to Antarctica, I had a surprising amount of people say, “Why would you want to go to Antarctica?” At that point, my answer was pretty generic. I was so excited to go, but I would just say things like, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.” However, after traveling to Antarctica, I could talk about it for hours and give you so many specific reasons to head to the seventh continent. (It’s not technically the seventh continent, but for many travelers on our trip—who are world travelers—it was the last of the seven continents they needed to visit.)

Before we started our journey to Antarctica across the Drake Passage, we spent a couple of days touring Buenos Aires and Ushuaia in Argentina. Since it’s summertime in the Southern Hemisphere, the sun and warm weather of Buenos Aires gave us a nice break from the cold most of us had been experiencing back home, and we enjoyed a day tour of some of the region’s most famous spots. We strolled through the Plaza de Mayo to see Casa Rosada (the Presidential Palace), the National Museum of the Cabildo, the National Bank of Argentina and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Perhaps the most colorful place to see in Buenos Aires is the La Boca neighborhood. The buildings—and even the cobblestones in the sidewalks—are painted bright colors. Artists display their work in the streets, tango dancers entertain the tourists and cafes allow you to soak in the atmosphere while enjoying a delicious empanada!

The world famous Recoleta Cemetery was a favorite for a number of travelers. The elaborate mausoleums and ornate crypts are hauntingly beautiful. Many of Argentina’s most important figures are buried there, including Eva Peron.

The next day, we departed for Ushuaia, also known as el Fin del Mundo, the end of the world. Part of the Patagonia region, Ushuaia offers beautiful views of the mountains, the Beagle Channel and forests. While waiting to board our ship, we took a tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park. It was the last time we would see grass and trees for more than a week!

Later that day, we boarded the beautiful ship Le Boreal, our home for the next nine days. The crew on the boat was wonderful, the ship was amazing and the experience ahead was one of a kind. Our first challenge was to cross the Drake Passage. All travelers who have been to Antarctica compare their voyages across the Drake. You hope for the “Drake Lake” and fear the “Drake Shake.” We had something in between with a range of 13- to 16-foot swells. Even if it had been worse, the voyage would have been worth the destination.

Antarctica can’t truly be captured in a photo, although you do go home with SO MANY frame-worthy photos. It’s hard to put down your camera and just soak in Antarctica. The pristine white of the snow, the glowing blue icebergs and glaciers, the crystal-clear water—it’s truly breathtaking.

It’s evident that Antarctica is fiercely protected by its ambassadors. You won’t find a single piece of trash on land or in the water. The dirty snow comes from penguin poop—tons of penguin poop—not from pollution. When you journey to Antarctica, you become an ambassador as well. It’s hard not to be when you are rendered speechless by the beauty of the Lemaire Channel.

Even with a group of travelers, you can find time to sit and take in the stillness and deafening silence, except for the occasional popping of the ice or calving of a glacier.

Then there’s the wildlife: Thousands of penguins. At any time, you can look out the windows on the boat and see penguins porpoising in and out of the water. Huge colonies cover the islands in the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s amazing to observe the differences in the different species of penguins: The chinstrap penguins were pretty chill, sitting with their young and heading out to the ocean to fish.

The gentoo penguins seemed to be a little ornerier, a little louder, a little more curious. They definitely looked a little different with their red-orange beaks!

The Adélie penguins are funny to watch, as they like to enter the water as a group so they can have safety in numbers. They all line up and go in at once, hoping to make it less likely to be eaten by a seal.

All of the seals we saw on this trip seemed to be way too lazy to go hunting for penguins!

I think I might have been the most excited about the whales. I spent hours on the outside decks watching whales. Not just watching for whales, but watching actual whales. We saw a group of five humpback whales bubble-feeding. One humpback whale came right up to the side of the ship and we saw countless tail-showings.

The most amazing whale encounter was coming across a pod of 31 killer whales—31! You knew it was special when the ship captain was standing on the bow of the boat, Titanic-style, trying to see them all. For about 30 to 45 minutes, the pod swam in front of the boat as if they were guiding us to our next destination.

I think if you were to ask each of the 12 Jayhawks who went on this trip what their favorite thing was, you would get 12 different answers. It might have been the penguins or the whales; the icebergs; the homemade vodka at the Ukrainian research station; the Antarctic weather, which was warmer than the weather in Kansas; watching the French broadcast of the Chiefs advancing to the Superbowl (with a group of Titans fans on board); being able to gloat just a little to all the K-State fans on board when KU came out victorious in Allen Field House during our trip; or literally any other moment of the trip.

For me, it’s impossible to pick a favorite. I think about one thing and it immediately makes me think of another amazing thing. I just can’t pick. So, from now on, when someone asks me, “Why would you want to go to Antarctica?” they better be ready for a long conversation, which will start with “Why would you not want to go to Antarctica?”

The Flying Jayhawks “Expedition to Antarctica” trip took place Jan. 15-28, 2020. The trip was hosted by Michelle Lang, b’01, the Alumni Association’s director of alumni programs. 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.


Pyramid Pizza closing brings memories of advertising schemes

Posted on Feb 11, 2020 in Campus News

Pyramid Pizza, a popular local pizza joint that endured various iterations, closed its doors last fall. Alumni and Lawrence residents mourned its passing and reminisced about Pyramid in a popular local Facebook group. Sean Williams, j’78, photographed many of Pyramid’s quirky advertising campaigns and shared some of his memories with us.

KU Cheer Squad with Pyramid Pizza boxes // photo courtesy of Sean Williams

I had a photography business shooting party pics for organized living groups on the KU campus. I also did ad shoots for Litwin’s, Pyramid and general mercenary work, including various KU political groups or individuals.

The photos for Pyramid merged my immersion in the fraternity, sorority and dorm life party pics business with pizza sales targeting that demographic. I frequently had extra photos from parties, and they would end up under glass at the Pyramid Pizza desk in the lower level of the Wagon Wheel Cafe.

John "Tan Man" Schneider on Wescoe Beach // courtesy of Sean Williams“We get it …”

I was studying advertising (and any photo course offering available), and Mark McKee, ’87, former owner of Pyramid, was practicing business and marketing. We collaborated on the “We get it …” ad campaign and had a blast imagining how to advertise Pyramid’s unique sales points as a way to “get it.” It seemed a relatively bold theme and we got a few clucking tongues from the administration, but we smiled and suggested that they get their minds out of the gutter because we were obviously talking about multiple methods of getting yummy pizza.

Tan Man” was featured in the first ad, as I recall, due to his enormous acceptance and fame with students, townsfolk, faculty, and all ages and persuasions. Tan Man “gets it whenever the sun shines …” Of course.

Late-night operators

I can’t remember all the other themes, but the “late-night operators” was my favorite. We staged the photographic shoot in a local veterinarian’s office (tight quarters) and used studio lights and detailed direction for the illustration (tilting the pizza and using a scalpel) to trumpet the availability after bar-closing hours.

Late night operators // Pyramid Pizza photo courtesy of Sean WilliamsShameless audacity

Mark’s chutzpah was most impressively displayed when he walked on stage at Allen Field House to deliver a pizza to Bob Hope, who was performing the KU Homecoming show in front of a packed house. Officials, audience members, and Hope himself thought that it was a planned part of the show, but it was just Mark, promoting that you could get it for a big event. Hope didn’t skip a beat, added a few jokes, and smoothed along. Mark and I both regretted that I didn’t have my camera in the audience and wasn’t assigned to shoot pics for KU that night.

I think KU officials reprimanded him for the photo of the KU cheer squad, taken before or after an organized practice (posing in a full squad pyramid with Pyramid Pizza boxes, they “get it in front of thousands …”). KU officials didn’t want the ads interpreted as an implied endorsement from the University, so I think he tamped that approach. In the meantime, the pizza’s popularity had taken off, Mark hired “Pizza Pete,” the locally famous manager of Pizza Hut, and advertising shifted to coupons and other themes.

Mark was an energetic, aggressive, positively ebullient and engaging personality driven to provide a great product in a popular fast food market in Lawrence. The Campus Hideaway, Green Pepper Pizza and other mom-and-pop shops arrived and disappeared while Pyramid expanded to Westport and multiple locations in Lawrence and elsewhere. Mark’s enthusiasm and drive for excellence prompted the success of the company, but as he launched into other ventures, quick-food competition exploded to put pressure on the Lawrence originals. Mark’s ardent promotion of Pyramid Pizza was truly the strong catalyst to Pyramid’s popularity as the primary meal choice for students who wanted to get it their way—one way or another.

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KU connection brings confetti new life

Posted on Feb 11, 2020 in Alumni News

Super Bowl Confetti

The clock hit zero in Miami and red, yellow and white confetti rained down, some featuring tweets from Kansas City Chiefs fans and players. While every Chiefs fan would love to get their hands on a piece as a souvenir, a KU connection landed a full bag in the hands of a local artist with big plans.

Allison Smith, d’05, n’07, g’08, had a previous connection with Ryan Toma, a groundskeeper for the Chiefs and was keeping up with his experience in Miami through Instagram. She saw him post about the tweet confetti and loved it.

Fast forward to the next day, and Kansas City-based artist Megh Knappenberger, f’04, above, asked on Instagram how she could get her hands on some confetti for a project.

“I was on my way to the KU hoops game and happened to see Megh’s Instagram story asking if anyone had a ‘hookup’ or ‘connection’ for the confetti,” Smith says. “So, I messaged Ryan to see if he could spare some. They messaged each other and met up in person on Tuesday afternoon!”

As for the end result … we’ll see! That’s a lot of confetti to clean and dry.

Here’s hoping that this isn’t the last celebration for local teams this year. “Fingers crossed for another championship for KU in April 2020,” Smith says. “I’ve got a good feeling!”

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