An Olympic gold medalist and humanitarian, a former director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the CEO of a global scientific instrumentation company will receive honorary degrees from the University of Kansas.
Billy Mills, Elizabeth Broun and Teruhisa Ueda will each receive an honorary degree at KU’s 147th Commencement on May 19, 2019, in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. The three nominations were approved earlier today by the Kansas Board of Regents.
“Billy Mills, Elizabeth Broun and Teruhisa Ueda have made lasting contributions to our world,” said Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “They embody the mission of the University of Kansas and serve as role models for students, faculty, staff and individuals throughout society who want to make meaningful contributions to the world around them. I am thrilled for the chance to recognize these three exceptional individuals at Commencement, and I know their presence will make the day that much more special for our graduates and their families.”
The degrees to be awarded and the justification for each are as follows:
Billy Mills will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for his outstanding contributions to improving the lives of Native Americans and commitment to lifting the voices of diverse and underrepresented people.
Elizabeth Broun will receive the degree of Doctor of Arts in honor of her extraordinary contributions to the field of American visual history.
Teruhisa Ueda will receive the degree of Doctor of Science for his outstanding contributions to science and technology.
KU awards honorary degrees based on nominees’ outstanding scholarship, research, creative activity, service to humanity or other achievements consistent with the academic endeavors of the university. Recipients do not need to be KU alumni, and philanthropic contributions to the university are not considered during the process. The university first began awarding honorary degrees in 2012 and has since presented 16 such degrees, not including the 2019 nominees announced today. For additional information and a list of past degree recipients, visit honorarydegrees.ku.edu.
2019 Honorary Degree Recipient Profiles
Billy Mills is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Mills attended Haskell Indian Nations University and the University of Kansas. He attended KU on an athletic scholarship and was a three-time NCAA All-American cross-country runner. During the 1964 Summer Olympics, Mills won an Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 meters, and he remains the only American to ever win the event. Mills’ win in the 10,000 meters is considered one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history.
Mills is a co-founder and national spokesperson of Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization that aims to help American Indian people meet their immediate survival needs while creating opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem in American Indian youths. In 2014, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of his gold medal, Mills started Dreamstarter, a grant program to jump-start the dreams of American Indian youths.
Mills is the recipient of many distinguished athletic and humanitarian awards, including the 2015 President’s Council Lifetime Achievement Award, NCAA’s Theodore Roosevelt Award and 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal. He has been inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame and the United States Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Elizabeth Broun, director emerita of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, grew up in Independence, Kansas, and holds three KU degrees in art history — a bachelor’s, a master’s and a doctorate. From 1976-83, Broun served as curator and subsequently interim director of KU’s Spencer Museum of Art, overseeing a dramatic expansion of its collections. In 1983, she began her long tenure at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, beginning as chief curator and assistant director and assuming the position of director in 1989. She retired in 2016.
During her 27-year tenure, Broun conceived and successfully completed the renovation of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery’s buildings, all national historic landmarks. Under her direction and with her vision, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has become the premier center for research in the field of American visual history. By dramatically expanding the resources available for research and learning using both in-person and digital access, Broun expanded the appreciation and understanding of our collective cultural history.
On the occasion of her retirement, Broun’s outstanding service was recognized by the Smithsonian Regents with the Joseph Henry Medal, the institution’s highest award.
Teruhisa Ueda is the president and CEO of Shimadzu Corporation, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of scientific instrumentation, with 10,000 employees and revenue in excess of $2.5 billion. Ueda is the driving force behind Shimadzu’s corporate philosophy, which is to contribute to society through science and technology. Under his leadership, Shimadzu Corporation is dedicated to making significant investments in research and development of new technologies.
Ueda was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. He holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial chemistry, a master’s degree in engineering and a doctorate in applied life science, all from Kyoto University. During the early 1990s, Ueda studied at KU at the Center for Bioanalytical Research, studying under Distinguished Professors Ted Kuwana and Ralph Adams. Ueda credits his time at KU for his understanding and appreciation of a global mindset, deepening his success in business management and broadening his professional expertise.
Ueda’s success illustrates the benefits of being committed to a diversified student experience. Ueda believes students should turn their attention outward, learn about other lifestyles and cultures, and see what they can offer the world. He promotes taking on challenges without fearing failure as well as scientific excellence and responsibility to future generations.
Kansas track legend Billy Mills received a weekend full of honors in Lawrence, culminating in South Middle School’s re-dedication as Billy Mills Middle School.
The South Dakota native’s KU story began at Haskell, and later the University of Kansas, where he was a three-time NCAA All-American. Mills’ running career reached its zenith at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where his winning time in the 10,000 meter run set a world record and won America’s first gold medal in the event.
After a unanimous vote by the Lawrence School Board in February, South Middle School was approved for a name change to honor Mills and the Native American history of the Lawrence area. Mills spoke at the dedication ceremony on his hopes for the school:
Mills also shared photos from a tour of the school:
The city of Lawrence and the University of Kansas joined in the celebration as well, with Mayor Stuart Boley proclaiming Saturday, Nov. 3, Billy Mills Day and the University announcing that Mills will receive an honorary degree at 2019 commencement.
Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our weekly 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 email@example.com.
At halftime of 13th-ranked KU’s wild, 77-69 victory over No. 20 West Virginia, Aldrich stood in the tunnel he ran out of so many times as a player and watched quietly as a video chronicling his Kansas career played on the video board above midcourt. Read full article.
The provost for the University of Kansas has joined the board of directors for a Memphis-based retail chain. Neeli Bendapudi — provost, executive vice chancellor and professor of marketing at the University of Kansas — will take a seat on the board of Fred’s Inc., effective Wednesday, March 21. Read full article.
Chad Leat, a ’78 KU grad student and retired Wall Street executive, is back on campus for the first time in nearly 40 years. Leat is donating $1 million in support of LGTBQ student scholarships at the university. The donation comes from Leat being one of the few openly gay executives on Wall Street and for his first time back to his old stomping grounds in decades. Read full article.
In what was a surprise even to its members, the Lawrence school board voted unanimously Monday to change the name of South Middle School to honor Billy Mills. The school will be renamed Billy Mills Middle School in honor of the KU All-American, Olympian, and Native American. Read full article.
Lashly & Baer, P.C., one of the oldest law firms in Downtown St. Louis, has named Lisa O. Stump, ’86, as President. She succeeds Kenneth C. Brostron, who is stepping aside as President of the Firm, after over 30 years. Stump, who has practiced at Lashly & Baer for her entire career, becomes the first woman President of the Firm. Stump, 53, is also Chair of the Firm’s Governmental and Education practice group. Read full article.
Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.
The KU School of Business, the Langston Hughes Center and KU Athletics hosted “The Power of Sport: A Conversation on Business, Race and Sports” last week at the University of Kansas.
The event featured a panel discussion with former KU student-athletes, including former KU women’s basketball and WNBA player Tamecka Dixon, and former KU track athlete and Olympic gold medalist, Billy Mills. Shawn Alexander, associate professor and graduate director of African & African-American studies and director of the Langston Hughes Center moderated the discussion.
Following the panel discussion, sports sociologist and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, Harry Edwards delivered the keynote address to a crowded ballroom in the Kansas Union. Edwards has consulted on diversity issues for the MLB, NBA and NFL. He is the author of numerous articles and four books focusing on issues of race and sports.
The event’s organizer, Shawn Alexander, anticipated the conversation would attract strong interest from the KU community.
“Sport is a microcosm of society that allows us to talk about many issues, including corporate power, race, gender, homophobia, urban planning, health and labor,” Alexander said. “For the past two years, KU has been at the forefront of this discussion with its annual symposium.”
Last year’s event, featuring The Nation’s sports editor and author Dave Zirin, was live streamed by the KU Alumni Association, and the video can be watched here or on the Association’s YouTube channel. New York Times sports columnist and author William Rhoden delivered the inaugural keynote address in 2015.
This year’s event was co-sponsored by the KU Alumni Association, the Office of the Provost, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the K Club and the KU departments of African & African-American Studies; Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences; Sociology; and Political Science.
The event was free but registrations filled up quickly. A full rebroadcast of the event is available below and at kualumni.org/powerofsport. It can also be viewed on the Association’s YouTube channel. Alumni can follow the discussion on Twitter by searching the hashtag #KUracesports.
KU alumnus and Olympic Gold medalist Billy Mills will be honored at Native American Heritage Night with the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, Jan. 21. The Kings, featuring former KU standout Ben McLemore, take on the Brooklyn Nets, the home of Jayhawk legend Paul Pierce.
Special group pricing is available for the game: $25 for upper-level tickets and $54 for lower-level seats, a discount of up to 40% off regular prices. The first 300 fans will receive a Kings T-shirt.
Mills was the subject of the most recent cover story in Kansas Alumni magazine. Read an excerpt of the feature, written by Steven Hill, below.
A 26-year-old Marine Corps lieutenant and three-time All-American climbed aboard a shuttle bus in the Olympic Village in Tokyo, Japan. He was a relative unknown at the games, a dark-horse distance runner whom most track-and-field pundits gave zero chance of winning the day’s event, the 10,000-meter run. So when he sat down beside a young athlete from Poland, it was no surprise that she’d never heard of him.
“She asked me what event I was in, and I told her,” he recalls. “And then she asks, ‘Who do you think will win?’”
Fifty years later he can laugh—a deep, generous laugh that says, can you believe it?—but at the time the question unnerved him. “You don’t ask people that,” he says, grinning. As he sat in silence, the young woman pressed on, thrilled by the potential drama of the 6.2-mile race. Would it be Australian Ron Clarke, the world record holder, she wondered breathlessly, or Russian Pyotr Bolotnikov, the defending champion?
“Now she’s giving me a choice,” he says, “a choice that doesn’t include me!”
So he smiled his easy smile and said, very quietly, “I’m going to win.”
“And who are you?”
Running on cinders beneath the National Stadium lights later that rain-darkened afternoon of Oct. 14, 1964, the young Marine came from third place to blow past Clarke and Mohamed Gammoudi of Tunisia in the final 30 meters; Dick Bank, color commentator on the CBS race telecast, cut off play-by-play man Bud Palmer, who seemed oblivious to the unfolding spectacle, and screamed “Look at Mills! Look at Mills!” The runner felt the tape break across his chest and thrust both hands high before dropping them to cover his face, stunned that he’d just pulled off what many still consider one of the greatest Olympic upsets ever. When a race official grabbed him and asked, “Who are you?” Mills felt a moment of panic, fearing he’d miscounted. “Do I still have a lap to go?” he asked.
“No, no,” came the response. “Finished. Olympic champion.”
We begin this holiday season with gratitude for the continuing loyalty and support of our members. Membership dues have helped us expand the KU family this year to include 114 networks across the state, nation and around the world, and we have exciting changes in store for 2015.
Our annual color calendar full of memorable campus photos, along with the 80-page issue No. 6, 2014, of Kansas Alumni magazine and the Alumni Association’s annual report for fiscal year 2014 has been mailed to members.
The latest issue of Kansas Alumni includes a feature on Billy Mills, d’62, the “man with wings on his feet.” Fifty years after chasing his dream to Olympic gold, he has spent the decades since helping Indian youth find their own road to fulfillment.
Other features include an in-depth article about the University community’s search for lasting improvements after allegations from a 2013 sexual assault case caused anger across campus, and a profile on Los Angeles artist Kiel Johnson, f’98, who crafts a unique blend of mixed-media art.
Please look for Kansas Alumni among the holiday catalogs that spill out of your mailbox! Members can also read the full magazine online. Not a member? Consider joining today, or read a free preview article from this issue of the magazine.
In a ceremony at the White House today, KU alumnus and Olympic Gold medalist Billy Mills, d’62, received the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal from President Obama. The medal is the second-highest civilian award in the United States, second only to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The president honored Mills, who was accompanied by his wife, Pat, for his work with Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization he co-founded that supports cultural programs and provides health and housing assistance for Native American communities.
“I am humbled and honored to be recognized by the President in this extraordinary way,” Mills said in a statement on his organization’s website. “The most powerful thing you can give to a child is a dream. I hope every child in Indian Country knows what is possible if you follow your dream.”
Jayhawks will also remember Mills for his unexpected victory at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games in the grueling 10,000 meter run. His shocking come-from-behind victory (watch the video here) ranks among the greatest upsets in Olympic history, and he remains the only American to ever win the event. Mills remains actively involved with KU and Haskell Indian Nations University, returning often for speaking engagements and to attend the Kansas Relays. He and Pat are active Path to Life Premium members of the KU Alumni Association.
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. The President recognizes Americans whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention. Members of the public are invited to nominate people in their lives who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs.
We congratulate this legendary Jayhawk for a well-deserved honor.