Letter to Kansas Honors Program Volunteers

Kansas Honor Scholars
Dear Jayhawk,

Thank you for your dedication to the KU Alumni Association’s Kansas Honors Program through the years. Because you have contributed to the program’s success, I want to share with you the ways in which we are adapting the program to better serve outstanding Kansas students and their families.

In February 2017, the KU Alumni Association’s national Board of Directors convened a task force to conduct the first comprehensive review of KHP in 46 years. The review came in response to trends outlined in the attached report, but our main concerns included:

1. Across the state, less than half of Kansas Honor Scholars attend the KHP events in their communities. Barriers to participation include the cost of the dinner programs for families and busy schedules for students, who are involved in after-school activities and part-time jobs.

2. Although alumni and friends contribute to help fund KHP, the Association and the University subsidize more than 80 percent of the total cost, which is unsustainable. In an era of significant funding cuts to higher education, the Association and KU must allocate resources to our highest priorities.

Our task force was led by Al Shank, a national Board member and a KHP volunteer in Liberal for the past 33 years. The group considered the entire spectrum of options, from continuing the program in its traditional format to eliminating it entirely. After a statewide survey of key stakeholders, the task force recommended a new KHP format that will provide flexibility for scholars, their families and local high schools while reducing program expenses. Most important, the cost savings will enable the Association and the University to create more scholarship opportunities for Kansas Honor Scholars. The Association’s staff and board created a new plan for Kansas Honor Scholar events beginning this fall.

As the attached outline describes, the Association will continue to work with high schools to designate top students as Kansas Honor Scholars, and we will mail recognition certificates to all schools, where administrators can determine the best ways to recognize their scholars. We will consolidate the 36 KHP events, many of which were costly dinners, into 12 regional receptions, which begin in Lawrence in conjunction with Crimson & Blue Day (a new visit day) at KU on October 13. Scholars and their families can choose to attend the free event(s) that are most convenient in terms of date and location.

Michelle (Miles) Lang will be in touch as soon as we have confirmed the details for the regional ceremonies. I hope you will continue to assist the Association by promoting and attending one or more of the 12 regional ceremonies and working with your school administrators to participate in their schools’ recognition events. With your help, we can continue the proud tradition of honoring outstanding young Kansans and encouraging them to continue their education—ideally at the University of Kansas. If you have any questions, please contact me at 785-864-9777.

Rock Chalk!

Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09
President