Top 18 Stories of 2018

Posted on Dec 21, 2018 in News

Fraser | Top 18 Stories of 2018

As 2019 approaches, it’s time to take a look back at our year with our top 18 stories of 2018. These are the stories most liked and shared by the Jayhawk community. Thanks for a great year!

Top 18 Stories of 201818. KU Mentoring connects neuroscience student with surgeon

Thomas Angel took the long road to the University of Kansas, but he’s making sure his time here counts. Thanks to the power of the KU Mentoring platform, Angel connected with a practicing surgeon who he will shadow over winter break.

17. Remembering Chancellor Shankel

The University family lost an extraordinary Jayhawk and truly dedicated leader in Chancellor Emeritus Del Shankel. Shankel twice led KU through pivotal transitions as interim chancellor, from 1980 to ’81 and 1994 to ’95. The Kansas Board of Regents officially designated him KU’s 15th chancellor in 1995.

16. Giving Thanks to KU Mentors

In honor of the season, the KU Alumni Association thanks the thousands of Jayhawk students and alumni who have joined KU Mentoring. More than 3,500 users have registered on the platform, and we’re excited to help the next 3,500 make a connection with the Jayhawk Career Network.

15. He’s got it if he can find it

Rod Ernst, third-generation owner of the iconic downtown Lawrence hardware store Ernst & Son, died Jan. 23, the store announced on its Facebook page. Ernst is the subject of a feature story in issue No. 1, 2018, of Kansas Alumni.

14. Simply the Best

2018 Debate championship team | Top 18 Stories of 2018

At the beginning of the fall semester, University of Kansas debater Quaram Robinson refused to set her sights on winning the National Debate Tournament, the annual four-day showdown of the best competitors in college debate. She feared she would only set herself up to fail. But here she was, eight months later, in the championship round of the NDT in Wichita. Robinson and her teammmate, Will Katz, had just delivered their final rebuttals late in the evening of March 26, the last day of the tournament.

13. KU to honor Rob Riggle with Distinguished Alumni award

Rob Riggle, one of the most recognizable Jayhawk alumni, was honored this year with the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Kansas. He visited Lawrence in November to accept the award.

12. KU Alumni Conversation: 120 Years of KU Basketball

KU alumni Curtis Marsh, j’92, and Creighton Coover, b’98, g’01, sat down to talk KU hoops and recall their all-time favorite Jayhawk players and memorable moments on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of basketball at the University of Kansas.

11. Les Miles announced as Head Football Coach

Les Miles, a national championship-winning former coach at Louisiana State and Oklahoma State, has been named the new head football coach at the University of Kansas, Kansas Athletics Director Jeff Long announced Sunday.

10. University of Kansas names Jeff Long director of athletics

University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas A. Girod today named Jeff Long as the university’s new director of athletics. Long brings more than two decades of experience in athletic administration at the Division I level, most recently at the University of Arkansas. During that time, he transformed Arkansas’ athletics department into one of the most successful in the country and established himself as a national leader within intercollegiate athletics.

9. Bawk Chalk: Alumni construct creative hen house for their brood

Top 18 Stories of 2018

What started as a means to pass time between NCAA tournament games turned into much more for Jarrod, f’95, g’03, and Kate Neely Williams, ’97, who this spring masterminded the construction of Alhen Field House, a wildly creative chicken coop built in the likeness of KU’s legendary basketball arena.

8. Holiday Vespers

At a university brimming with history, the story of a monthly concert in the early 1920s turning into one of KU’s longest-running traditions is filled with twists and turns. For 94 years, Jayhawks have celebrated the holiday season with Vespers. Our annual holiday greeting for alumni featured a look back at this storied tradition.

7. Pay Heed: ‘Beware of the Phog’ banner turns 30

In 1988, a couple of KU students hatched an idea, created a banner and left a legacy that has come to define KU’s storied Allen Fieldhouse, known to many simply as “the Phog.” Thirty years later, the friends and KU alumni reunited to reminisce about the banner and how it all came to be.

Top 18 Stories of 2018

6. Front and Center

A finger-snap ago, Central District was nothing more robust than an artist’s rendering, a wish list, part of a master plan for what our beloved campus could one day be, how it should live and breathe and teach and embrace, for the next half-century or more. Less than two years later—“We tried to build it as fast as we could,” said one project architect—and this thing is done.

5. Traditions Night

At the start of every fall semester, anxious KU freshmen fill the stadium for Traditions Night, a rite of passage where they learn about the cherished traditions of old KU. Year after year, KU puts on a show. And there’s always a showstopper.

4. Sign of the times: KU student goes viral at College GameDay

Whenever ESPN’s College GameDay comes to Lawrence, students know to bring their A-game when it comes to signs. In between the signs cheering the Jayhawks and jeering the West Virginia Mountaineers, one student took a jab at the channel broadcasting the whole event.

3. Hard Stories

Drawing on her background as a daughter of rural Kansas, one writer is challenging America to face up to its class divide. Sarah Smarsh, c’03, j’03, published her first book, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, and took aim at stereotypes and assumptions. Smarsh was featured on the cover of issue No. 5, 2018, of Kansas Alumni magazine.

2. Campus icon ‘Tan Man’ to celebrate 75th birthday, and you’re all invited

Thousands of students have spent time soaking up the sun in front of Wescoe. But KU students from the late 1960s through the 1980s remember one particular man’s legacy of relaxing on the beach. John Schneider, more commonly known as “Tan Man,” spent the better part of three decades as a campus icon, sharing his charm and kindness with Jayhawks.

1. The Walk

Commencement | Top 18 Stories of 2018

Students gather on Memorial Drive on a Sunday morning, grouped up by their schools. Friends, siblings, parents and grandparents line the sidewalks on the way to Memorial Stadium. As they cross through the World War II Memorial Campanile and begin their descent down the Hill, graduates take their final steps as students into their future as KU alumni. Our Commencement feature reviews the history of this beloved Jayhawk tradition.

And there you have it — our most popular articles and features of 2018! Perhaps not surprisingly, stories that feature KU traditions or nostalgic memories of time on campus resonate strongly with Jayhawks, and we hope to bring you more of these pieces in 2019. Rock Chalk! 

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Top 17 Stories of 2017

Posted on Dec 19, 2017 in 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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