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.
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.
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.
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.
Jerry, 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.”
“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.
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.
At this time of year we joyously celebrate our newest assembly of graduates and wish them well in their personal and professional journeys. And then something powerful happens. Our new alumni apply what they’ve learned here, add more knowledge along the way, and, given a little more time and some hard work, emerge as leaders.
Our alumni give so much of their time, treasure, and talent to the University of Kansas that it is truly uplifting. One intangible gift they offer, specifically for KU students, is inspiration. These Jayhawks combined their knowledge, experiences, and KU connections and then fashioned them into remarkable success.
Throughout the year, the schools and the College make a point to recognize a handful of alumni who are shaping their workplace, their fields, their communities, and society. On Friday night, the School of Pharmacy recognized alumnus Joe Courtright, CEO of USA Drug, now part of Walgreens.
This weekend the School of Law presented its top alumni honor to three graduates, Judge Karen Arnold-Burger chief judge of the Kansas Court of Appeals; John Bowman, partner with King & Spalding LLP; and William “Brad” Bradley Jr., founder of NIC Inc. In September, the College feted diplomat and executive Delano Lewis, and the School of Architecture and Design announced three recipients of its inaugural Distinguished Alumni Awards.
In February, the School of Music delivered its first Outstanding Music Educator Award to Kelli Baker during a statewide music educators workshop. In the coming days, the School of Business and the School of Engineering will announce honors for some of their luminaries; the School of Education will honor alumna and Superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas, School District Cynthia Lane with KU’s Friend of Education Award; and the School of Social Welfare will recognize excellent field instructors, many of whom are program alumni, with the annual Margo Award.
Delano Lewis. Photo by Brian Goodman Photography.
The recognition of our Jayhawks isn’t limited to academic units. Achievements come from near and far. Music alumnus and organist Brian Mathias was recently selected to join one of the nation’s biggest gigs, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Over the past year, two of our alumni, Diane Yetter and Terry Putney, were named among Accounting Today’s 2017 “100 Most Influential People in Accounting.”
Closer to home, the KU Alumni Association presented its 2017 Fred Ellsworth Medallion to College alumnus John Mize and B-School alumnus John B. Dicus, who, incidentally, is now the first third-generation recipient of the award. In October the Black Alumni Network of the KU Alumni Association celebrated nine alumni — including Associate Dean of Engineering Andrew Williams and Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Reggie Robinson — with the Mike and Joyce Shinn Leaders and Innovators Award.
Our institution-wide pinnacle, KU’s Honorary Degree, is regularly bestowed upon influencers, change leaders, and innovators, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos.
Students, the abundant success of our alumni tells us something valuable: It’s important to take calculated risks and seize the opportunities as they appear to us. Be bold as you embark on your careers. As faculty and staff, we’ve seen your potential firsthand. We know you’re destined to succeed. Promise me you’ll maintain connections to KU — social media can’t do it all. Make a point to really stay in touch with each other and this great institution. What you know matters. Who you know matters, too.
One day in the future, and sooner than you might think, you too will be an inspiration for a fresh generation of KU graduates. You have it in you to be a leader. We know because you’re already a Jayhawk.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Broadway legend and KU alumnus Mandy Patinkin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Feb. 12.
As a KU student, Patinkin, ’74, starred as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” and other University Theatre productions before leaving for The Juilliard School in New York City. Only a few years later, he won a Tony Award for his 1980 Broadway debut as Che in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita.” Patinkin has been nominated for six Emmy Awards, three Golden Globes, and three Tony Awards. He won an Emmy for “Chicago Hope” in 1995.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce adds stars to the Walk of Fame as the representative of the City of Los Angeles. Appromixately 24 star ceremonies are broadcast annually.
In 2016, Patinkin was one of three 2016 winners of the 37th annual Common Wealth Awards of Distinguished Service. Our coverage of that award also includes a video of Patinkin’s 2014 appearance on “Live with Kelly and Michael.” The hosts surprised the actor on-camera with a guest appearance by his KU girlfriend (whom the Association helped track down for the show’s producers).
Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our biweekly 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
After graduating in May of 2017, University alumna Savannah Rodgers became a producer on the project, “Out Here in Kansas.” The documentary revolves around the LGBTQ community and how it intersects with Christianity in Kansas. Read full article.
The University of Kansas Sport Management Program is thrilled to announce the inaugural Board of Directors. These eleven KU alumni will provide invaluable insight to the faculty and students as the program continually grows and adapts in a ever-changing sporting landscape. Read full article.
Marah Schlingensiepen-Malleck is a 2016 Public Affairs and Administration grad who is now a PhD Student at University of Florida. Following her time at KU, she is able to reflect on what she learned through her research and give advice of her own. Read full article.
By now, almost 10 full years after Mario’s Miracle and the Kansas men’s basketball team’s run to the 2008 national championship, many of the stories about that team, its tournament run and the title game against Memphis have been told. Read full article.
Doug Richmond, who earned a Juris Doctor from the KU School of Law in 1989, received the Alumni Achievement Award from Fort Hays State University during its Homecoming celebration. The award is the Alumni Association’s highest honor. Read full article.
Low-income, at-risk students will have a greater opportunity to graduate college in four years without crushing debt because of a new partnership between Kansas State University and the Peter and Veronica Mallouk Give Back Program. Peter Mallouk is president and chief investment officer of Creative Planning Inc., one of the largest independent wealth management firms in the country. A graduate of the University of Kansas and its Graduate School of Business, he and his wife, also a KU graduate, are co-founders of KC CAN!, an organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the quality of life of children in Kansas City. Read full article.
The Kansas City Chiefs created the position to oversee new business, renewals, activation and service for corporate partnerships, suites and media rights revenue streams. Kimberly Hobbs was hired to the new role of vice president of corporate partnerships and premium sales. She’s a 20-year veteran of the sports marketing industry and is also a member of the Greater Kansas City Network of the KU Alumni Association’s board of directors. Read full article.
Johnson County manager Hannes Zacharias on Sunday, Oct. 22, was recognized with the Edwin O. Stene Award for Managerial Excellence. The honor was given at the KUCIMAT banquet — a yearly KU alumni event hosted at the International City/County Management Association annual conference. Read full article.
Allen Frame ran for simple reasons. “Because I won,” he said. “That’s the reason I enjoyed it.” Frame won plenty of races at East High and the University of Kansas during a golden era of track and field. He moved to Wichita from Iowa, following his father’s job at Beech, for his final three semesters and joined Fritz Snodgrass’ track team at East. Read full article.
Wells Fargo Middle Market Banking announced today that it has promoted three executives within its Illinois commercial lending operations. The company named 21-year banking veteran Chris Nay to lead six teams statewide as division manager, effective immediately. Nay earned a degree from the KU School of Business in 1993. Read full article.
Former Kansas basketball guard Ryan Robertson, his wife Andrea — a former Missouri soccer player — and their three children are all Jayhawk fans. Robinson was unable to attend the charity exhibition game, but he shared his thoughts on the rivalry. Read full article.
Cheema, a senior who is majoring in biology, is vice president of the Pre-Medical Society and founder and president of KU Friends of Pakistan. She is a University Honors Scholar and serves as the historian for Mortar Board honor society. She is a member of Student Senate and vice president of membership for the Student Alumni Leadership Board.
Khan, a senior who is majoring in political science and global and international studies with a minor in Middle Eastern studies, has served as president of the Muslim Student Association. She chaired the Student Senate Multicultural Affairs Committee, and she has been a member of KU Students for Refugees, the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board and International Student Services.
The Ex.C.E.L. Award provides an annual $250 scholarship to two students. The winners will present at the Blueprints Leadership Conference next spring in conjunction with KU’s Student Involvement and Leadership Center.
Community service activities
The theme for this year’s Homecoming was “Jayhawks of the Galaxy.” Students and alumni participated in several activities throughout the week, including competitions, community service opportunities and reunions. Members of the KU and Lawrence communities collected more than 3,300 cans of non-perishable food for Just Food of Douglas County during the CANstellation competition. They also donated more than 1,500 office supplies for Community Village Lawrence, which was sponsored by the Homecoming steering committee and the United Way of Douglas County.
The annual event was organized by the KU Alumni Association and a student-led Homecoming steering committee, which was directed by Nellie Kassebaum, a Burdick junior in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. She worked with Alumni Association adviser Jacey Krehbiel, assistant director of membership and business development. Homecoming sponsors were Crown Toyota Volkswagen, PepsiCo and Kansas Athletics.
The Homecoming parade was Friday, Oct. 6, on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence and featured retired NASA astronauts and KU alumni Joe Engle and Steven Hawley as grand marshals. A meet and greet with Kansas Athletics preceded the parade from 4 to 5 p.m. at South Park.
Larry Stoppel, 1973 College of Liberal Arts & Sciences alumnus, and his wife, Nancy Tade Stoppel, a 1973 School of Education alumna, from Washington, Kansas
Overall Winners Greek Life
1st place: Alpha Delta Pi and Triangle
2nd place: Sigma Delta Tau, Delta Delta Delta, Alpha Tau Omega, Beta Sigma Psi
3rd place: Delta Gamma, Delta Tau Delta, Pi Kapa Phi, Alpha Kappa Lambda
1st place: Engineering Student Council
2nd place: Beta Upsilon Chi
3rd place: Sellards Scholarship Hall
For more information and a complete list of competition winners, visit homecoming.ku.edu.
KU’s 105th Homecoming celebration, Jayhawks of the Galaxy, took place Oct. 1-7, 2017. For a full list of activities and events during Homecoming week, fun facts and historical information, visit the Homecoming website. Share your photos with us by posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #kuhomecoming, and follow the hashtag to see more pictures of the celebration. Homecoming is sponsored by Crown Toyota Volkswagen.
Ten finalists have been selected for the 27th-annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards at the University of Kansas. The finalists will participate in the Homecoming parade at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, along Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence. Two winners will be announced during halftime of the KU-Texas Tech Homecoming football game Oct. 7 at Memorial Stadium.
The Ex.C.E.L. Award provides an annual $250 scholarship to two students. The winners will present at the Blueprints Leadership Conference next spring in conjunction with KU’s Student Involvement and Leadership Center. Nominees were selected on the basis of leadership, effective communication skills, involvement at KU and in the Lawrence community, academic scholarship and ability to work with a variety of students and organizations. The selection committee included representatives from Student Union Activities, the Board of Class Officers, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center and the Homecoming Steering Committee.
The award was first given in 1991 to recognize two students for achievement. Names of winners are listed on a plaque on the fifth level of the Kansas Union. To be eligible, applicants must be full-time undergraduate students with an overall grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. Each finalist completed an application and participated in an interview. The finalists and their academic majors are listed below, along with highlights of their campus achievements.
Katie Phalen, molecular, cellular and developmental biology, is executive director of the KU Center for Community Outreach. She is a member of Kappa Delta sorority and Mortar Board honor society. She serves on the KU Memorial Corporation board of directors and is a member and co-founder of KU Interfaith Alliance.
Kakra Boye-Doe, psychology with minor in sociology and pre-medicine, is a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, where he serves as external vice president. He is co-president of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students and a member of Phi Delta Epsilon and Order of Omega. He is a Peer Led Undergraduate Supplements (PLUS) leader and a teaching assistant in biology, and he conducts research in social psychology. He volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.
Puja Shah, microbiology with a minor in Spanish, founded KU Habitat for Humanity and led the organization as president. She served on the executive boards of Jayhawk Health Initiative and the South Asian Student Association, and she chairs the Counseling and Psychological Services Committee. She has conducted research with KU Work Group for Community Health and Development, and she has been a resident assistant at Ellsworth Hall for three years. In 2015, she received the Millard Fuller Young Philanthropist of the Year Award.
Sana Cheema, biology, is vice president of the Pre-Medical Society and founder and president of KU Friends of Pakistan. She is a University Honors Scholar and serves as the historian for Mortar Board honor society. She is a member of Student Senate and vice president of membership for the Student Alumni Leadership Board.
Danielle London, peace and conflict studies/global and international studies with minors in French and Spanish, has served on the executive board of Students United for Reproductive and Gender Equity as treasurer, outreach coordinator and program director. She is an orientation assistant and peer mentor for the Office of First-Year Experience, and she serves as a student social justice educator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She was named a Global Scholar in 2016.
From Overland Park
Zoya Khan, political science and global and international studies with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. She has served as president of the Muslim Student Association, and she chaired the Student Senate Multicultural Affairs Committee. She has been a member of KU Students for Refugees, the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board and International Student Services.
Justin Kim, anthropology and visual art, is president of KU Young Democrats and the Student Alumni Leadership Board. He has been a board member of Student Union Activities and the Dole Student Advisory Board. He also created the Kansas Union Gallery Internship Program.
Hannah Schifman, art history and psychology with a minor in leadership studies, is a founding member and vice president of the KU Art History Club and a representative for the Board of Class Officers. She is a Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute alumna and a LeaderShape graduate. She has been a student facilitator for the Colors of KU diversity retreat and a leader during Hawk Week. She interned at KU Hillel and participated in Israel Leadership Mission and Alternative Breaks. She is a member of Student Union Activities and she volunteers at Watkins Museum of History.
Tomas Green, chemical engineering with a minor in public policy, has been a member of Student Senate and the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board, and he has organized events for TEDxKU. He has volunteered at the Willow Domestic Violence Center and has worked with the Citizens Climate Lobby. He is a Self Engineering Leadership Fellow and a 2016 KU Man of Merit. In 2017, he was selected as a Udall Scholar and a Tau Beta Pi Scholar.
Sebastian Huayamares, chemical engineering and mathematics, is a member of Theta Tau fraternity and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He also participates in the University Honors Program and Tau Beta Pi honor society.
A complete schedule of Homecoming week activities can be found online. The Alumni Association and its Student Alumni Network oversee Homecoming 2017, which is sponsored by Crown Toyota Volkswagen and supported by Kansas Athletics, PepsiCo and Student Union Activities.
With volunteers all across America, it takes a lot for one in KU’s backyard to stand out. Brandon Petz does that and more for local alumni as the Lawrence Network leader. The KU Alumni Association is proud to name Petz, b’06 g’07, a Dick Wintermote Network Volunteer of the Year Award recipient. The annual award recognizes volunteers who brought extraordinary leadership to their network.
“I am so honored to be named a Wintermote Award recipient. All the years volunteering for various networks has been so much fun and I cherish being a part of the KU Alumni Association and all it stands for,” Petz said.
Uniting local alumni
Petz’s work to bring together a group of alumni that already feels connected to the University due to their proximity to campus has impressed many inside the Alumni Association.
“Brandon Petz has gone above and beyond to revamp the Lawrence Network in the shape of the new alumni network strategy,” said Nick Kallail, assistant vice president of alumni and network programs. “He has recruited a team that have provided diverse events and continues to move forward engaging alums to make KU better. This is no easy task in Lawrence, where opportunities to connect with KU are so plentiful.”
Fellow Lawrence network volunteer Tom Larkin, a’09, echoed Kallail’s comments, noting Petz’s enthusiasm for KU “that clearly started before he became president of our Lawrence network. He’s extremely organized and focused, and has a knack for getting everybody energized about the current mission or task at hand. His leadership and positive disposition makes him a joy the be around and a true asset to the Association.”
Petz, a Cimarron, Kansas, native, lives in Lawrence with his wife, Bonnie, and his daughter, Eleanor. Petz is chief financial officer of Grandstand Glassware and Apparel, a local custom screenprinting company that specializes in glassware and apparel.
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.