Howard and Debra Cohen of Leawood to receive Homecoming Spirit of 1912 Award

Posted on Sep 17, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Howard and Debra Cohen of Leawood to receive Homecoming Spirit of 1912 Award

Howard and Debra Cohen of Leawood to receive Homecoming Spirit of 1912 AwardThe University of Kansas Alumni Association and the student-led Homecoming Steering Committee have named Howard and Debra Cohen of Leawood as winners of this year’s Rich and Judy Billings Spirit of 1912 Award. The annual award recognizes Jayhawks who consistently display school spirit, pride and tradition.

The Cohens will ride in the Homecoming Parade at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence and receive their award at the Homecoming reception, before kickoff of the KU-Oklahoma State football game Saturday, Sept. 29.

Howard earned his KU bachelor’s degree in business in 1979 and for nearly 40 years has worked at Deloitte in Kansas City, where he’s a lead client service partner. He chaired the business school’s advisory board and served on the national board of directors for the Alumni Association from 2006 to 2011. He has volunteered as a trustee for KU Endowment since 2003. He is a Life member of the Alumni Association and participates in Jayhawks for Higher Education. In 2005, the School of Business honored him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Debbi is a dedicated Jayhawk and co-chairs the Women Philanthropists for KU advisory board. She and Howard have attended numerous KU events in Kansas City, including the Rock Chalk Ball, the Association’s largest fundraising event, for nearly two decades. The Cohens are longtime contributors to the Presidents Club and donated to the School of Business’ capital campaign, which raised funds for the construction of Capitol Federal Hall.

The Spirit of 1912 Award commemorates the first year of KU’s Homecoming and honors Rich and Judy Billings of Lakewood, Colorado, who in 2011 created an endowment to fund future editions of Homecoming. The Billings, both 1957 KU graduates, will attend their 60th KU Homecoming celebration this year, serving as grand marshals in the parade.

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KU Alumni Association announces Homecoming events, grand marshals for parade

Posted on Sep 7, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Homecoming 2018 | Home on the Hill | KU Alumni Association announces Homecoming events, grand marshals for parade

The University of Kansas will celebrate its 106th Homecoming Sept. 22-29 with the theme “Home on the Hill,” culminating in the KU football game against Oklahoma State University on Sept. 29 in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

The annual event is organized by the KU Alumni Association and features a weeklong series of student and alumni activities, including competitions, reunions, tailgates, the Homecoming Parade on Sept. 27 and the selection of 10 student finalists for the Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (Ex.C.E.L.) Awards. The winners will be announced during halftime of the football game. The event is sponsored by Crown Toyota, Volkswagen and Hy-Vee, with two locations in Lawrence, and is supported by Kansas Athletics.

The grand marshals for this year’s parade are Rich and Judy Howard Billings of Lakewood, Colorado. The Billings, both 1957 KU graduates, are Life Members of the Alumni Association and Presidents Club donors. They also are benefactors of the annual Spirit of 1912 Award, which commemorates the first year of KU’s Homecoming and recognizes Jayhawks who consistently display school spirit, pride and tradition. This is the 60th year the Billings will participate in the university’s Homecoming celebration.

The student-led Homecoming Steering Committee is chaired by Allyson Bellner, a sophomore from Marion, Iowa, majoring in biology and Ashley Dunn, a Lawrence junior majoring in communication studies. They work with Alumni Association staff members Ally Stanton, director of student programs, and Keon Stowers, assistant director of student programs.

For a complete schedule of Homecoming events, visit kualumni.org/homecoming.

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KU Alumni Association honors recipient of Fred Ellsworth Medallion

Posted on Sep 7, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Fred Ellsworth Medallion recipient
The 2018 recipient of the Fred Ellsworth Medallion for extraordinary service to the University of Kansas is Bernadette Gray-Little, the University’s 17th chancellor, who retired in 2017 after eight years of leadership. The KU Alumni Association will honor her Sept. 14 during the fall meeting of the Association’s national board of directors. Since 1975, the medallions have recognized KU volunteers who have continued the tradition of service established by Ellsworth, a 1922 KU graduate who was the Association’s chief executive for 39 years, retiring in 1963.

During her tenure as chancellor, Gray-Little led the record-breaking $1.6 billion Far Above fundraising campaign and led the successful proposal and implementation of new admissions standards and the launch of a new undergraduate curriculum, KU Core, both aimed to increase student retention and graduation rates. From 2012 through 2016, KU’s freshman class experienced growth for five straight years.

Gray-Little oversaw the physical transformation of the University in 50 capital improvement projects totaling $700 million in Lawrence as well as on the Edwards Campus in Overland Park and KU Medical Center campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina. Most notable is the Central District in Lawrence. Other highlights include the expansion of the schools of Engineering and Medicine, including the construction of the new Health Education Building at KU Medical Center; a new home for the School of Business; new residence halls; and the restoration of Jayhawk Boulevard.

KU also made historic strides in research, achieving National Institutes of Health designations for the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, the KU Cancer Center and Frontiers, the KU Clinical and Translational Science Institute. KU is one of only 26 U.S. universities to house three NIH-designated research centers. The research enterprise also expanded with the recruitment of 12 Foundation Distinguished Professors, a key component of the Bold Aspirations strategic plan to enhance research initiatives on campus.

“We are pleased to recognize Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little with the Fred Ellsworth Medallion,” said Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association. “One of the most visible and important parts of her legacy at KU was making a commitment early in her tenure to establishing a strategic enrollment management plan. The plan was anchored by a data-driven, highly customized approach to recruitment and supported by a new and very robust four-year renewable scholarship model. The results from this transformation over the previous eight years speak for themselves. Of course, there are many other significant milestones, but enrollment growth stands out for me because it is incredibly important to the health of the entire institution.”

Since 1975, 157 KU alumni and friends have received the Fred Ellsworth Medallion.

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Wichita alumnus recognized for service to the University

Posted on Aug 17, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Greg Ek, Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award recipient

As a token of appreciation for his sustained service to the University, the KU Alumni Association presented Greg Ek, b’76 with the Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award at the Wichita KU Kickoff event on August 15 at Beech Lake.

Ek, a Kansas Honor Scholar, came to KU from Emporia High School to study business administration. He also served as president of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

Ek has served on multiple boards for the Alumni Association, including the Kansas City, Wichita and national Board of Directors. He also chaired the Wichita Roundup, the network’s biggest annual event, in 2017.

Danielle Hoover, director of donor relations and Wichita programs, points to Ek as a valuable resource for the Wichita Jayhawk community.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Greg as I began my role with the Alumni Association and his help and guidance has been invaluable,” said Hoover. “He has put in many hours of service for the community of Wichita Jayhawks and alumni throughout the state. The University and I are forever grateful for his kindness.”

Greg and his wife Debby, a Kansas State alumna, have two children: Andy, a Jayhawk, and Allie, a Wildcat.

About the award

The Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award was created in 1987 to thank alumni and friends for sustained volunteer service to the University at the local level. The award honors Mildred Clodfelter, b’41, who worked for the University for 47 years, including 42 at the Alumni Association.

—Ryan Camenzind

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Wichita Jayhawk receives Wintermote Award

Posted on Aug 16, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Andrew Nolan, Dick Wintermote Volunteer of the Year 2018

In recognition of his dedication to the University of Kansas, the KU Alumni Association presented Andrew Nolan, c’95, l’98 with a Dick Wintermote Volunteer of the Year Award.

A Hutchinson, Kansas, native, Nolan became the first Jayhawk in his family and went on to major in political science and participate in the Honors Program. He spent his spare time officiating intramural flag football and working as a student assistant in the Kansas Collection at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. He then enrolled at the KU School of Law where he graduated in 1998.

“Andy’s leadership and assistance have been vital for the Jayhawk community in Wichita,” said Danielle Hoover, director of donor relations and Wichita programs. “His love for the University of Kansas has shown through his countless hours of service and I am honored to know him.”

Nolan remains active in the University, including a stint on the KU School of Law Board of Governors, as well as his work with the Wichita Network board. Andy and his wife live in Wichita with their two future Jayhawks: Charlie (14) and James (8).

Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association,  presented the award to Nolan at the Wichita KU Kickoff event on August 15.

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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Joyce Davis Pulley earns Wintermote Award

Posted on Jul 10, 2018 in Alumni News and 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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The Walk: The Highest Honor

Posted on May 12, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Speakers you likely won’t hear at a University of Kansas Commencement ceremony: Chance the Rapper, Oprah Winfrey, or Michael Bloomberg, all of whom have been tapped to speak at commencement events around the country this year.

KU’s Commencement ceremony traditionally features speeches from the university chancellor, the Kansas Board of Regents chair, and the KU Alumni Association chair, and an award presented to extraordinary leaders.

In 2012, under Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, the university began awarding honorary degrees. The honor replaced distinguished citations after a petition to the Board of Regents.

The honorary degree is the highest honor bestowed by the university and is awarded to individuals of notable intellectual, scholarly, professional or creative achievement, or service to humanity.

The nomination process opens to members of the university community and the general public each year in March. The Chancellor’s Honorary Degree Committee then forwards several nominees to the chancellor for consideration. The following October, the Chancellor submits nominees to the Kansas Board of Regents for approval, and the recipients are honored at KU’s Commencement ceremony in May.
2012: The inaugural recipients of honorary degrees; Alan Mulally, e’68, g’69, president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. and keynote speaker; former FDIC chair Sheila Bair, c’75, l’78; former Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole, ’45; and renowned composer Kirke L. Mechem.

To learn more about Commencement, including the history of the walk down the hill, class banners, and the special experience for Big and Baby Jays, read our full feature, The Walk.

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Journalism school hosts Pulitzer-winning alumni for “Politics and the Media” panel

Posted on Apr 26, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Journalism panel | Journalism school hosts Pulitzer-winning alumni for

The William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications invited a group of Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni back to campus April 25 for a “Politics and the Media” panel.

The panelists included Alberto Araujo, a masters student with a decade of experience reporting in his home country of Ecuador; Colleen McCain Nelson, j’97, vice president and editorial page editor of the Kansas City Star; Patricia Gaston, j’81, editor at the Washington Post; Kevin Helliker, c’82, who has 26 years of experience at the Wall Street Journal; and J.B. Forbes, j’73, chief photographer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The panel was moderated by Pam Fine, KU journalism professor and former managing editor of the Indianapolis Star.

Citing current tensions between political journalists and their readers, Fine opened the event by asking each panelist what political journalists are doing right in today’s climate. A central theme of journalists’ responsibilities emerged in the evening’s responses.

When asked about the idea of bias in media, Helliker reminded the audience that “journalists are totally self-serving. What I want is a great story. The idea that journalists are molding their coverage to fit their ideology gives them too much credit. We just want a good story.”

Nelson shared her experiences working on an editorial page in the era of partisan segmentation. When asked whether it’s her job to help create common ground, she responded, “It’s part of our goal. At the editorial page, our goal is to expose people to different points of view, and not create an echo chamber where you only have people agreeing with each other. We’re trying to create a civil conversation on the editorial page, which is tough right now. We’re trying to remind readers that it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable; you can read something where you don’t embrace the idea but you still might learn something.”

Dean Ann Brill concluded the event by starting a tradition at the School of Journalism: presenting the group of Pulitzer Prize-winning panelists with Alumni of Distinction medals.

The William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications hosted several events throughout the week in celebration of its namesake’s 150th birth year.

Journalism panel | Journalism school hosts Pulitzer-winning alumni for

-Ryan Camenzind

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Wichita alumna earns Wintermote honor for stalwart service

Posted on Apr 11, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Camille Nyberg, 2017 Wintermote Award Recipient
As a local and national KU volunteer, Camille Bribiesca Nyberg is known for her warmth, dedication and hospitality—qualities that earned her a 2017 Dick Wintermote Volunteer of the Year Award. As her hometown Wichita Network alumni gather this week for the 15th annual Jayhawk Roundup, Alumni Association president Heath Peterson will honor Nyberg, c’96, g’98, who has contributed countless hours to the Roundup and, with her husband, Glenn, ’79, chaired the event in 2014 and 2015.

Nyberg’s guidance was critical for Danielle Lafferty Hoover, c’07, when she joined the Association staff in 2015 as assistant director of Wichita programs. “Camille was instrumental when I first began my role,” says Hoover, who is now director of donor relations and Wichita programs. “She spent a lot of time helping me get to know the other volunteers and network board members. Anyone who knows Camille would agree that she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.”

As a new KU graduate, Nyberg left her home state to live in Dallas, where she quickly became involved in the local network, helping to host alumni and athletic events and Jayhawk Generations picnics for new freshmen and their families. Her fellow alumni nominated her to serve on the Association’s National Board of Directors, which she joined in 2009. Nyberg led the Association as national chair from 2014-’15, shortly after she moved back to her hometown. Back in Wichita, she attended numerous activities in addition to the Roundup, and she hosted events for alumni mentors and Wichita North High School students through the Helpful Alumni Working for KU (HAWK) Mentor Program with KU’s Office of Admissions.

Peterson, d’04, g’09, credits Nyberg for strengthening the Wichita Network: “Camille has invested considerable time in our events. Thanks to her efforts, KU has a much more visible and active presence in the largest city in Kansas.”

Nyberg was one of three alumni in 2017 to receive the annual award named for Dick Wintermote, j’51, who served as the Association’s executive director from 1963 to 1983 and helped establish the strong Jayhawk tradition of volunteering to help alumni and current students as well as prospective Jayhawks. The other winners were Kate Feller McSwain, b’12, who leads the Dallas Network, and Brandon Petz, b’06, g’07, who leads the Lawrence Network.

About the Award

This annual award recognizes network volunteers who demonstrate extraordinary leadership to their network and the KU Alumni Association during a one-year period (July 1-June 30). An internal staff committee within the KU Alumni Association consisting of those who work closest with volunteers meets each year to decide on award winners.

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Burtnett family to receive Millie Award

Posted on Apr 10, 2018 in Alumni News and News

In recognition of their service to Wichita-area alumni, Jerry and Lucy Burtnett will be presented with the Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award, affectionately known as the “Millie” award, at Jayhawk Roundup on April 13.

Roundup reliable

Jerry and Lucy Burtnett, Millie Award recipientsJerry, p’69, and Lucy have helped organize the Jayhawk Roundup since 2006, and they hosted the event in 2011 and 2012. KU Alumni Association president Heath Peterson thanked the Burtnetts for giving “a tremendous amount of sweat equity to Jayhawk Roundup, both serving on the volunteer committee and later as chairs of the event.”

Danielle Hoover, director of donor relations and Wichita programs, echoed Peterson’s praise, stating the Burtnetts “are some of the hardest working volunteers I have ever worked with. They’ve spent many, many hours helping set up, decorate and clean up the Murfin Stables for Jayhawk Roundup.”

Jerry and Lucy also served on the Wichita Network‘s board from 2011 to 2015 and contribute their time for Jayhawks for Higher Education.

“We got involved because of our local KU contacts and wanted to help,” said Jerry. “Working with our KU friends was very enjoyable and we continue to help with Roundup.”

The Burtnetts, who are Life Members of the KU Alumni Association, now split their time between Wichita and Florida.

Jerry and Lucy Burtnett as event chairs at the 2011 Halloween-themed Jayhawk Roundup

The Burtnetts as “event chairs” at the 2011 Halloween-themed Jayhawk Roundup

About the award

The Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award was created in 1987 to thank alumni and friends for sustained volunteer service to the University at the local level. The award honors Mildred Clodfelter, b’41, who worked for the University for 47 years, including 42 at the Alumni Association.

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