Top 17 Stories of 2017

Posted on Dec 19, 2017 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

View of Memorial Stadium on the KU campus | top stories of 2017

It’s time for our annual look back at the top stories of the year from the KU Alumni Association’s website. These were the most viewed, clicked and shared stories of 2017, according to the Jayhawks who flocked to our site. Our coverage included news of a new chancellor, timeless traditions and more than a few surprises. So, as we wave the wheat to 2017, here’s to another great year for Jayhawks everywhere. Rock Chalk!

17. Fortissimo Fan Fare

Carrying on traditions that date back to the days when the Jayhawks played in Hoch Auditorium, the men’s basketball band fills Allen Field House with an energizing mix of musicianship, enthusiasm, school spirit and just plain fun. Hear director Sharon Toulouse, f’97, g’05, and many of her talented musicians explain the stories behind their rites and rituals, and read more about it in “Fortissimo Fan Fare,” in issue No. 2, 2017, of Kansas Alumni magazine.

16. Alumna shares lessons learned from viral rant’s aftermath

Jenni Carlson returned to her alma mater for J-School Generations, an annual reunion during Homecoming weekend. The event invites alumni back to the William Allen White School of Journalism to reconnect with students and faculty. Carlson, j’97, was a speaker for J-Talk, a TED-style lecture event where she and other alumni shared their stories.

15. LPD, #Hilarious

After launching the Lawrence Police Department’s Twitter page Dec. 31, 2015, with the usual dry reminders for revelers to designate sober drivers, Officer Drew Fennelly yearned to “find the voice for the Twitter account.”

14. KU aerospace grad lands coveted spot in NASA astronaut class

Loral O’Hara, a 2006 graduate of the KU School of Engineering’s aerospace engineering program, was introduced as one of 12 members of NASA’s 2017 astronaut candidate class. After her KU graduation, O’Hara earned a master’s degree at Purdue University. Until joining NASA for the arduous astronaut selection process, O’Hara most recently worked as a research engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

13. Artist recreates late grandfather’s North Korean war rescue

On October 27th, 1951, downed pilot James J. McCabe ran “like an injured gazelle” past enemy lines to an approaching rescue copter in North Korea. After three failed pickup attempts, he grabbed the helicopter’s landing skiff and hung on for dear life as the chopper took off under a hailstorm of explosions. Alumnus Tim McCabe recreated his grandfather’s experience in the style of a graphic novel.

12. Shenanigans abound when former rivals travel abroad

An old rivalry was renewed as Jayhawks made the “Great Journey through Europe.” Participants on the Flying Jayhawks tour found themselves traveling with some Nebraska Cornhuskers, who pranked the KU crew by holding Jayhawk decorations hostage.

11. Former KU Volleyball athlete aces House Hunters premiere

Ashlyn Driskill, a graduate student in the KU School of Business’ MBA program and a member of KU volleyball’s 2015 Final Four team, made her television debut when House Hunters documented her and her husband’s search for a Kansas City home. She sat down with us in February for a Q&A about the experience, and after the episode premiered we asked a couple more questions about the show and got an update on the house (pictures included!).

Brian Palermo and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little | www.kualumni.org10. Jayhawks rally to give alumnus an unforgettable Commencement

One of the most treasured traditions at the University of Kansas takes place every spring, when thousands of graduating students walk through the Campanile and down the Hill for Commencement. Brian Palermo, a KU Admissions representative based in St. Louis, never got to experience that moment—until this year.

9. Charlie Hustle combines nostalgia and spirit

Jayhawks in the Kansas City area have likely heard the name or seen Charlie Hustle’s vintage-style T-shirts around town—especially its signature KC heart shirt. Our video allowed alumni to learn more about the Kansas City-based company and its staff of Jayhawks, including what inspired its founder and CEO, Chase McAnulty, to create the company and where the name came from.

8. Ten KU students named finalists for 27th-annual Ex.C.E.L. Awards

Ten finalists were selected for the 27th-annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards at the University of Kansas. The finalists participated in the Homecoming parade, and two winners were announced during halftime of the KU-Texas Tech Homecoming football game Oct. 7 at Memorial Stadium.

7. Viral video captures the KU experience

Before Ben Brodsky walked down the Hill last May, he could sense it was coming. That feeling of nostalgia that all alumni understand was becoming all too real, and Brodsky, c’17, wanted to hit save and preserve his time at KU. Fortunately, the talented film and media studies major had shot hours of footage during his time on campus; timeless scenes that also captured a place in time. His memories. His journey. But one with which we could all relate.

6. Forty years of Hog Calling: The Marching Jayhawks’ pregame tradition

KU Marching Jayhawks hog calling photo courtesy of KU School of Music

For 40 years, the Marching Jayhawks have used one song to pump them up before running onto the field at Memorial Stadium to play the songs that get everyone else ready for the game. If it sounds bizarre and unofficial, that’s because it is. Unlike other KU traditions that date back to the late 19th century, “Hog Calling” began 40 years ago when a group of Marching Jayhawks were bored.

5. Happy House Hunters

Former KU volleyball player Ashlyn Driskill started the year having just helped the Jayhawks reach their first Final Four in program history. She followed that up by getting engaged and buying her first house with fiance Foster Vielock. To top it off, the happy couple was selected to appear on HGTV’s House Hunters, set to air later this year. Ashlyn agreed to share her story with KU alumni.

4. My meeting with Hal Sandy

Harold “Hal” Sandy, j’47, who created the famous Happy Jayhawk logo as a KU student in 1946, died Dec. 9, 2017. Sandy is fondly remembered by alumni and Jayhawk fans, and his creation remains one of the most recognized and beloved collegiate symbols in the country. David Johnston, KU Alumni Association vice president for marketing and digital media, met with Sandy while leading the KU visual identity project in 2005 as KU director of marketing. He reflects on meeting Sandy for the first time in this personal tribute to a KU icon.
Dr. Douglas Girod, 18th Chancellor of the University of Kansas, speaking at the press conference.

3. School spirit

Learn more about the historical house in Lawrence that hosted professors, chancellors, and the last months of the life of James Naismith. Our special online feature highlighted the farm house’s hallowed history just in time for Halloween.

2. Breaking: Fake News for April Fools

Every year on April 1, the KU Alumni Association plays a playful prank on unsuspecting alumni, sending a special April Fool’s Day edition of our alumni e-newsletter. Although alumni swore they wouldn’t be fooled again, these “fake news” stories made some of them do a double take. Proceed at your own risk.

1. Board of Regents announces 18th chancellor of the University of Kansas

The Kansas Board of Regents announced the appointment of Dr. Douglas A. Girod as the 18th Chancellor of the University of Kansas.

“I am honored to be here today to make this important announcement. Naming the next Chancellor is one of the most important jobs we undertake as the Board of Regents,” stated Zoe Newton, Chair of the Board of Regents. “Dr. Girod is the right person for this time of transition. His 23 years of service are a testament to Dr. Girod’s love and commitment to KU. He will honor KU’s traditions and history while leading this great university into the future.”

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