Six alumni will receive the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s Black Alumni Network Mike and Joyce Shinn Leaders and Innovators Award for their contributions to the university, their profession and their communities. The award is named for the late Mike Shinn, a 1966 School of Engineering alumnus, who helped found the KU Black Alumni Network and the Leaders and Innovators Project, and his wife, Joyce.
The six recipients will be honored Friday, Oct. 25, during KU Homecoming week and the Black Alumni Network’s biennial reunion. They are:
Katherine Conway-Turner, Buffalo, New York, who received her bachelor’s degree in microbiology in 1976, her master’s degree in psychology in 1980 and her doctorate in psychology in 1981;
Jyarland Daniels, New York City, a 1997 business graduate;
Bonita Gooch, Wichita, who completed her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1977 and her master’s degree in public administration in 1978;
Eva McGhee, San Francisco, who earned her doctoral degree in cellular immunogenetics in 1995;
Ivory Nelson, Houston, who received his doctorate in chemistry in 1963; and
Norma Norman, Georgetown, Texas, who completed her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1967 and her law degree in 1989.
Conway-Turner has been a leader in higher education for more than 20 years. Before becoming president of Buffalo State College-State University of New York in 2014, she served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Hood College and State University of New York, and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Georgia Southern University. A first-generation college student, she advocates for affordable tuition and food security for those who are underserved.
She serves on several national, state, and local committees and boards, including Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa (H.O.P.E.), based in Rochester, New York. As chair of the organization’s education committee, she travels frequently to Borgne, Haiti, to assist community members with health, education and economic efforts. She also created Bengals Dare to Care Day, an annual community service project at Buffalo State College.
Daniels is a steadfast advocate for social justice and racial equity. After graduating from KU, she launched her career in marketing and public relations and worked with several Fortune 500 companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Ford Motor Company, before earning her law degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, where she focused on education and civil rights law.
She has since served as executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Detroit, and in 2016 she founded Harriet Speaks, an equity and inclusion consulting firm that provides services for corporations, government agencies and educational institutions nationwide. Most recently, she was appointed interim chief communications officer of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Gooch is a veteran journalist, community activist and entrepreneur. She owns TCV Publishing, which produces several local newspapers, including the Community Voice, the Tanker Times and the Big Voice. As editor-in-chief of the Community Voice, which features news, issues and interests of the African American community, she has been honored with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Media Advocate Award and two Kansas Press Association awards.
She volunteers for several organizations, including the American Red Cross and the Kansas African American Affairs Commission, and she has received numerous awards for her leadership and community service.
McGhee is a scholar and humanitarian whose research focuses on health disparities in African American and Hispanic women. One of her most notable accomplishments is the discovery of the candidate gene for Coffin-Siris Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Her research has been widely published, and she contributed to a report for President Barack Obama on HPV vaccinations. She currently serves as assistant professor of medicine at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles.
As a professor, she has mentored hundreds of students in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and science, and she established a scholarship program for high school students at Mount Zion Baptist Church in San Francisco.
Nelson has had a long and distinguished career as a scientist, educator and leader in higher education. At KU, he was the first African American student to receive a doctorate in analytical chemistry and to be inducted in Sigma Xi, a scientific research honor society. In 1986 he became chancellor of the Alamo Community College District in San Antonio and later served for more than seven years as president of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. In 1999 he became president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where the Ivory V. Nelson Center for the Sciences was built in 2009, two years before his retirement. His career in higher education also includes receiving a Fulbright Lectureship.
A recipient of the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Citation in 1998, he has served as director of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and was appointed by the governor of Washington to the Washington State Commission on Student Learning.
Norman has devoted her career to education and human resources. She served as an elementary school principal in California and managed a state education-certification program before moving to Las Vegas, where she directed employee and labor relations at the Bellagio Hotel for 10 years. She later served as a civil rights officer for the Department of Transportation in Nevada and as a human resources counselor and employee relations coordinator for the Texas Workforce Commission.
She has volunteered in her community for several years, working with the MGM Mirage Resorts Diversity Champion Program in Las Vegas; the Human Resources Management Association in Austin, Texas; and the Northeast Economic Development Corporation in Kansas City, Kansas. She was inducted in the Topeka High School Hall of Fame in 2008.
The KU Black Alumni Network has honored 77 African American Leaders and Innovators since 2006. For information on previous winners and details of the Black Alumni Network Reunion Oct. 25-27, visit kualumni.org/blackalumni.
The University of Kansas Alumni Association and the student-led Homecoming Steering Committee have named Warren and Mary Corman 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 Cormans will ride in the Homecoming Parade at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence and receive their award at the Homecoming Reception, before kickoff of the KU-Texas Tech football game Saturday, Oct. 26.
Warren earned his KU bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering in 1950, after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He worked for the Kansas Board of Regents for 31 years before joining KU in 1997 as University architect and special assistant to Chancellor Robert Hemenway. Throughout his 63-year career, he has overseen the planning and construction of more than 300 building projects at state universities in Kansas, including KU’s Multidisciplinary Research Building, the Hall Center for the Humanities, the School of Engineering’s Eaton Hall and the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics.
In 1999 he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Architecture and Urban Design, and he received the Distinguished Engineering Service Award from the School of Engineering in 2004. He also was inducted in the Washburn Rural High School Hall of Fame in 2004. Since retiring from KU in 2010, he has participated in Jayhawks for Higher Education and the Alumni Association’s Endacott Society, and he serves on the Veterans Alumni Network advisory board. He and Mary Crissman Corman, who earned her bachelor’s degrees in psychology in 1973 and health information management in 1974, are Life members of the Alumni Association and Presidents Club donors. They also are longtime supporters of the Kansas Honor Scholar Program.
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 theme for KU’s 107th Homecoming is “Far Above the Golden Valley.” The Alumni Association and its Student Alumni Network Homecoming Steering Committee oversee this year’s event, which is sponsored by Best Western Plus West Lawrence; Crown Toyota, Volkswagen; and the KU Bookstore. A complete schedule of Homecoming week activities can be found at kualumni.org/homecoming.
Since 1959, KU seniors have chosen a professor to receive the H.O.P.E. Award to Honor an Outstanding Progressive Educator. The award, established by the Class of 1959 and given each year through the Board of Class Officers, is the only teaching honor bestowed by the senior class.
Hailey Solomon, a senior from Oswego, nominated her civil engineering professor, Matt O’Reilly. When he was selected as a finalist, Solomon attended the Oct. 5 KU-OU football game to support her mentor. Uninterested in the game itself, Solomon brought her crocheting and presumed her presence had gone unnoticed.
Four million Twitter and Facebook views later, she had become a social media sensation.
“It was incredibly surprising to go to exactly one football game in my entire college career and leave it as a meme, but I’m thankful for the experience,” Solomon says. “If a 30-second video of me contentedly crocheting brings people joy, then I’m joyful too!”
O’Reilly, an associate professor, is one of the few people Solomon would attend a game for. She credits his guidance as an adviser during freshman orientation as the reason she had the confidence to pursue engineering. An excerpt from her nomination form shows O’Reilly’s investment in his students, even before they are in his classroom.
“You can absolutely be successful in engineering because engineering, like everything, is so much more than it appears,” O’Reilly told Solomon. “It’s not just math and science; it’s writing, communication, teamwork, design, and so much more. You can’t judge yourself based on what you’re not, otherwise you’ll never accomplish anything. You have to make decisions based on what you’re good at and get help with the rest.”
Standing on the field during the award presentation, O’Reilly presumed one of his fellow finalists already received word he or she had won, so when “Dr. O’Reilly” blared over the loudspeaker as the winner, it took a second to sink in. Then he jumped with surprise.
“Most of my students call me Dr. Matt, so it took me a bit longer to respond to ‘O’Reilly’ and realize ‘he’ was me,” he says. “Nothing like jumping in shock when you’re on the Jumbotron.”
O’Reilly’s care for his students led to the H.O.P.E. Award. He fills his lectures with humor, makes video tutorials for difficult lab procedures, and grades every assignment, including exams, the day they are turned in. His open-door policy extends beyond office hours: He has been known to drive to campus on a Saturday to help a student understand a topic that was better explained in person.
“I know my students like and appreciate what I do, and that’s always been a source of happiness for me,” O’Reilly says. “I couldn’t imagine having a better career than teaching.”
His style derives from his own favorite teachers, student feedback, and trial and error. He constantly adjusts to best suit the needs of his students.
“The common thread was always putting students first and treating them with respect, and I strive to always hold myself to that,” he says.
As for Solomon, her crocheting is more than a hobby. She co-founded Warm the World, a student organization that makes warm clothes and blankets to donate to local homeless shelters and soup kitchens. The group meets every other Wednesday in the Union and is open to all students, regardless of skill level.
Solomon’s 15 minutes of fame made for a fun weekend, but the real story continues a cherished 60-year KU tradition: Matt O’Reilly’s teaching has earned him a place among the professors enshrined on the H.O.P.E Award plaque in the Kansas Union.
A man who pioneered aircraft industry awareness for the importance of structural maintenance and fatigue and safety risk assessment, and another who has guided one of the most prominent and successful construction firms in the Kansas City area are the winners of the 2019 Distinguished Engineering Service Award.
Marv Nuss and Dave Ross will be honored for outstanding contributions to engineering and their dedication to the profession at a ceremony set for 6 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at the Burge Union.
“Marv and Dave have each demonstrated a remarkable dedication to the engineering profession. Both are also steadfast supporters of KU and the School of Engineering. It’s an honor to recognize their contributions to their respective fields,” said Arvin Agah, dean of engineering.
The School of Engineering Advisory Board has given the Distinguished Engineering Service Award, the highest honor bestowed by the school, annually since 1980. The award honors KU engineering alumni or engineers who have maintained a close association with the university and for outstanding contributions to the profession of engineering and society.
The award is made on the basis of an individual’s contribution to the public good, governmental service or the educational system, or contributions to the theories and practices of engineering, research and development in new fields of engineering or direction of an organization that has made exceptional contributions in design, production and development.
About the honorees:
The U.S. boasts the safest airspace in the world, and Marv Nuss has played no small role in this accomplishment. His extensive background in solving age-related airworthiness problems enabled him to be one of the Federal Aviation Administration’s leaders in practical application of safety risk assessment and risk management to continued airworthiness. He championed structural fatigue and damage tolerance, creating policy, guidance and industry awareness for the importance of structural maintenance and sustainability.
Beyond his contributions to aircraft safety, his decades-long stalwart support of the KU School of Engineering and the aerospace engineering department have benefited past, present and future students, faculty and the broader KU Engineering community.
Nuss earned his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from KU in 1973. After graduation, Nuss worked four years at Bell Helicopter as a fatigue evaluation engineer. He then spent 14 years at McDonnell Aircraft on fighter aircraft projects, including more than a year in Madrid, Spain. His career progressed to a fracture and fatigue unit chief. In 1991, he moved to the FAA in Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked in the Small Airplane Certification Directorate. He rose to assistant directorate manager, then was the directorate’s Continued Operational Safety Program manager. After his retirement from the FAA in 2011, Nuss founded NuSS Sustainment Solutions. His consulting and training focus on aircraft structures’ airworthiness, sustainment and aircraft certification.
Nuss has served on the KU Engineering advisory board since 2011 and became board chair in 2014. He has been on the aerospace engineering department advisory board since 1993, including 20 years as chair. He is known as “Mr. KU Aero,” in part for the breadth and the sustained duration of his commitment. He frequently provides insight to students by delivering colloquia, volunteering in the senior interview process and through mentoring. He is well-respected among students and is viewed as an approachable, caring and dedicated alumnus with a passion for cultivating success in the next generation of KU Engineering graduates.
Beyond committing his time to help students and professionals, Nuss and his wife, Hazel, have also provided generous financial support over the years, including the Jet Engineering Simulation Laboratory and the Howard Smith freezer for composite material storage. They have also supported student project experiences and faculty development.
Nuss is a member of the American Society for Testing and Materials and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and he is a private pilot. He was recognized with the FAA Central Region award for Technical Achievement in 2010, was named FAA Small Airplane Directorate Employee of the Year in 2004 and won NASA’s “Turning Goals into Reality” team award in 1999.
Nuss and his wife, a KU alumna, married in 1972. They’ve enjoyed travel in the U.S. and abroad as well as cheering for Jayhawk sports. Their son, Patrick, is a KU Engineering graduate and lives in Seattle with his wife and daughter.
Known as calm, thoughtful and meticulous with a unique ability to excel in a variety of complex and highly technical projects, Dave Ross has been the driving force behind a top Kansas City construction firm for more than 40 years. As president and owner of David E. Ross Construction, Ross has built a reputation as a trusted adviser with an unwavering moral compass — while maintaining an enduring passion for the University of Kansas and the KU School of Engineering.
Ross earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from KU in 1973 and a Masters of Business Administration from the KU School of Business in 1975. In 1978, after three years at C.F. Braun and Company, he moved back to Kansas City to work with his father at the construction company he founded in 1949 — David E. Ross Construction.
The company has a diverse and complex construction portfolio full of technically challenging projects. Ross is known for utilizing extensive engineering knowledge, precise execution, acute attention to detail and an innovative approach to ensure his teams complete projects on time and within budget. Through Ross’ leadership and principles, his company has earned a reputation as being concerned about long-term costs, quality and sustainability.
In his time at Ross Construction, the company has grown in volume and number of associates, with more than 60 employees today. Under his leadership, teams have stayed in front of potential problems by thoroughly analyzing plans to ensure that what looks good on paper is feasible in the real world — in terms of practicality and the bottom line. Ross emphasizes client satisfaction and teaches his employees to build as if they own a particular project by putting themselves in each client’s shoes.
Ross has also served KU and the Jayhawk Engineering community. He has a distinguished record of financial support to the university and the School of Engineering, including major gifts to the Department of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering (CEAE) for renovation of the geotechnical laboratory and other equipment purchases. He has served on the CEAE department advisory board since 2012 and is a founding member of the CEAE Chair’s Council, which was established in 2018 to raise funds to retain outstanding faculty.
Ross is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, Tau Beta Pi Honor Society and the Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society.
His wife, Patty, has worked alongside Ross for over 30 years at David E. Ross Construction as treasurer and secretary. His daughter Allison McClain joined the family business 11 years ago and serves as vice president. Dave and Patty Ross have four daughters and 10 grandchildren. They split their vacation time between Southern California and Table Rock Lake, surrounded by their kids and grandkids.
The University of Kansas School of Pharmacy will present its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to Kansas Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt on Friday, April 26, at the School of Pharmacy building in Lawrence.
Schmidt, a 1978 graduate of KU’s pharmacy school, was a member of the Kansas Senate (District 20) from 2005-2019 and served as assistant majority leader from 2009 to 2012. Vicki was as the state’s insurance commissioner in 2018, making her the only pharmacist in the U.S. to currently hold a statewide elected office.
Schmidt was instrumental in helping the school gain funding to move into a new building in 2010 and expand the Pharm.D. program to Wichita in 2011. As a working pharmacist and a state legislator, she offered unique insight into the crisis the state of Kansas was facing at the time with an inadequate number of pharmacists in rural parts of the state. School of Pharmacy Dean Ken Audus said committee members made an excellent choice when they selected Schmidt to receive the school’s highest honor.
“Vicki Schmidt has been a tireless supporter of education and the pharmacy profession throughout her career,” Audus said. “The advocacy she has provided for the school, the university and education in general will improve the lives of Kansans for generations to come.”
As president of the Unity Hip Hop dance crew, Caitlyn creates community among fellow students with a shared passion of hip hop culture. Caitlyn has continued Unity’s strong tradition, founded in 1995, and has led them into new opportunities like training sessions with visiting artist Amirah Sackett.
Humberto Gomez Salinas
Humberto’s extensive work within the international student community at KU helps shape the experience of more than 2,000 Jayhawks who come to Lawrence from all over the world. He serves as an International Undergraduate Student Senator and a resident assistant in Downs Hall. Both roles allow Humberto to create space for students to feel welcome and engaged with the campus community.
When Jordan arrived at KU, he wanted to create a space for students that he couldn’t find. With assistance from faculty, Jordan created The Connect, a space for students to come together, eat and hang out. Student organizations come to The Connect to offer their services, academic resources are also available at the event. Jordan’s creation continues to grow and welcome more Jayhawks each month, just as Jordan set out to do.
The Jayhawk Impact Awards program is sponsored by Hy-Vee of Lawrence.
Bené and Friedman will receive the award for their dedication to business excellence, community service and commitment to KU on Thursday, April 18, during a private reception at The Jayhawk Club.
Tom Bené holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from KU. He is the chairman, president and CEO of Sysco Corp. and a member of its board of directors. Bené has held a variety of executive leadership roles at Sysco, overseeing all of the corporation’s business operations, commercial functions and supply chain organization, as well as at PepsiCo Inc., where he spent 23 years.
Bené is a member of the School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board and involved in a variety of industry, community and philanthropic organizations, including the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the United Way of Greater Houston.
Frank Friedman graduated from the School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration before joining Deloitte’s Kansas City office in 1979. Now Deloitte’s chief operating officer, Friedman leads the $43.2 billion network operations needed to drive Deloitte Global’s strategy.
Outside of Deloitte, Friedman is a trustee of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and has served on the board of many philanthropic Kansas City organizations, including the REACH Foundation, Starlight Theatre, HCA Midwest Health, and Menorah and Overland Park medical centers.
The School of Business established the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998 to honor outstanding graduates and supporters. To date, 61 alumni have been recognized with the award. Past recipients include investor David Booth, entrepreneur Tim Barton, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas president and CEO Robert Kaplan, Cerner Corp. co-founder Cliff Illig and Emprise Financial Corp. president Mike Michaelis.
Award recipients are chosen from the nominations of other alumni and the Dean’s Advisory Board. Candidates are selected on the basis of their business success and service to their communities and to KU.
In thanks for his time and service to the University and his Jayhawk network, the KU Alumni Association is proud to present Chris Longino the Dick Wintermote Volunteer of the Year award. The award will be presented to Longino, b’06, at an alumni event in Tampa Apr. 18.
After a childhood on the move as a military kid, Longino attended Free State High School in Lawrence and later received his bachelor’s degree from the KU School of Business. His career took him to Chicago before a move to Tampa in 2010.
Longino has lead the Tampa-St. Petersburg network since 2016 and has helped organize activities such as a holiday toy drive, a food drive after Hurricane Irma and fundraising efforts for a local elementary school after a fire.
Longino currently serves as a senior field information analyst at the National Insurance Crime Bureau, where he has worked since 2007. He and his wife, Kelley, are expecting their first child.
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.
After months of Oscar buzz, Kevin Willmott’s work on “BlacKkKlansman” was lauded with an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay Feb. 24.
Willmott, a University of Kansas film & media studies professor, co-wrote the screenplay for the 2018 film about Ron Stallworth, the first black police officer in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Stallworth wrote a 2014 memoir about how he infiltrated a cell of the virulently white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.
Willmott collaborated on the screenplay with Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz. The film has been gathering accolades, from the Grand Prix prize at the Cannes Film Festival to a BAFTA award for best adapted screenplay.
Read more on Kevin Willmott’s accomplishment at today.ku.edu.
For their unwavering commitment to the University, Vaun and Sydnie Bowling Kampschroeder are recipients of the 2018 Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award.
Vaun, c’63, g’65, and Sydnie Bowling Kampschroeder, c’65, are retired and split their time between Lawrence and Chicago. They have served as board members for the Chicago Jayhawk Network and have organized several network events for local Jayhawks. They are members of Jayhawks for Higher Education and have helped recruit numerous students to KU. The Kampschroeders are Life members and Presidents Club donors and support Kansas Athletics through the Williams Education Fund. They have attended KU Mini College for the past five years and are members of KU Endowment’s Chancellors Club, the Dole Institute, the Spencer Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum and the Lied Center.
Sydnie also served on the Alumni Association’s national Board of Directors from 2000 to ’05, as well as advisory boards for the School of Business, the KU Memorial Union Corporation and the Chancellors Club. She’s currently involved with Women Philanthropists for KU.
The Kampschroeders received the award at a Presidents Club event in Lawrence on Feb. 2.
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.