Divine Nine Plaza fundraiser reaches goal at University of Kansas

Posted on Jun 21, 2018 in Campus News and News

Divine Nine Plaza |Burge Union at the University of Kansas

A crowd-sourced fundraiser to bring KU’s historically black Greek life organizations a space of their own recently reached its goal.

After more than $50,000 was raised, the Divine Nine Plaza will be created. The plaza will honor the history of the organizations and give its student members and alumni a place to come together.

The “Divine Nine” is a nickname for a group of nine historically black fraternities and sororities, led by the National Pan-Hellenic Council, or NPHC. The plaza will celebrate the organization’s history with a monument for each of the nine sororities and fraternities and a marker depicting the story of NPHC.

Darius Jones, coordinator for KU’s fraternity and sorority Life, oversaw the project, which was funded on LaunchKU. The crowdfunding initiative of KU Endowment helps raise funds for projects and passions that benefit the KU community.

“My students informed me this idea has been discussed in previous years, but it never lifted off the ground,” Jones said. “When it was brought to my attention, my NPHC president at the time, Tyler Allen, wanted to know how we could make this happen. Student Senate’s Diversity & Inclusion Chair, Abdoulie Njai, also liked the idea of supporting NPHC with this initiative.”

Plans call for the plaza to be located in KU’s new Central District, between the Burge Student Union and the Integrated Sciences building. Construction is expected to begin soon.

The plaza will also bring greater visibility to the NPHC organizations.

“When people think of Greek life, they often automatically associate it with a house or a facility,” Jones said. “Having a physical presence on campus with these monuments will bring more awareness of our historically black Greek-lettered organizations. With this increased visibility, it is my hope it will help our community grow.”

Jones credits a variety of groups for helping make the project possible. KU’s Office of Student Affairs, including Tammara Durham, vice provost for student affairs, and Jane Tuttle, associate vice provost, strongly supported the campaign. KU Endowment staff created the LaunchKU page and collaborated on the plaza.

“I’m extremely thankful for my NPHC students,” said Jones. “This was their vision they advocated for, and without that none of this would have happened. Lastly, I want to thank all of the donors and supporters of the campaign. We could not have surpassed our goal without the tremendous amount of support.”

—Ryan Camenzind

For more on the Divine Nine Plaza fundraising project, check out the campaign’s page on launchku.org.

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Hawk Link Alumni Lunch connects Jayhawks in KC

Posted on Feb 21, 2018 in Campus News and News

Hawk Link alumni lunch

The Student Alumni Network recently partnered with Hawk Link to hold the first Hawk Link Alumni Lunch. The goal was to connect at-risk students with potential mentors from the vast network of KU alumni.

Hawk Link, a program based out of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, supports students of color, queer students and undocumented students while they navigate their first two years on campus. “It’s building on the components of what students need while they’re here and how we can set them up to be successful into the future,” said Jordan Brandt, academic advisor in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

One of their programs, Study in the States, takes students to different cities to explore historical sites that tie in with their curriculum. A recent field trip to the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City brought a unique opportunity for Hawk Link students to connect with members of the Black Alumni Network in the area.

“It just made sense to invite the Alumni Association on our Study in the States trip,” said Brandt. “Students were already engaging with faculty, staff, and peers through Hawk Link but we were lacking an alumni piece. It’s great having folks who care about the population of students that we serve and want to invest in them.”

“I first learned about OMA through a tour with KU,” said Camille Moore, a freshman studying pre-med. “Through the Hawk Link program, we all live in Oliver on the third floor and have all gotten close with one another. I learned a lot talking to alumni about how to get through the process of college, and I now have the chance to reach out to them in the future.”

Jeainnie Brown, b’94, enjoyed the opportunity to both give back to students of color and connect with black alumni. Luke Bobo, Ph.D, e’82, was effusive in his praise for the students and their poise.

“The young people I interacted with are bright, articulate and aware,” Bobo said. “I look forward to these students making their mark on the KU community and I also look forward to them making a mark on our society-at-large.”

The Student Alumni Network is expanding its on campus reach with both KU and student organizations by offering usage of the Adams Alumni Center and helping connect students, alumni, and the Lawrence community. SAN’s other on-campus partnerships include a ‘trunk-or-treat’ for Lawrence area children with the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, and Big Jay’s Recess, an upcoming event with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and SILC.

Hawk Link alumni lunch group picture

To learn more about the Student Alumni Network and to see upcoming events, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or visit the website.

-Ryan Camenzind

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Nominations underway for the KU Black Alumni Network Mike and Joyce Shinn Leaders and Innovators Award

Posted on Jan 19, 2017 in Campus News and News

Black Alumni Network | www.kualumni.org

Each year, the African-American Leaders and Innovators Project recognizes leaders from the University of Kansas community for their impact on society. These talented and sometimes controversial individuals helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

“The award is a great way to honor African-American individuals who have done such extraordinary things in their communities and for KU,” says selection committee member Rosalind Gumby Bauchum, c’74, g’76. “I’m reminded of the first African-American student to graduate from KU in 1895—just one generation beyond slavery. What an educational statement and achievement for other African-Americans.”

The African-American Leaders and Innovators Project, made possible through gifts from KU alumnus Mike Shinn, e’66, who passed away in 2015, was initiated in 2006 and brought to fruition through the coordinated efforts of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Alumni Association, Spencer Research Library and KU Endowment Association.

Recipients are selected from nominations submitted to the KU Black Alumni Network Mike and Joyce Shinn Leaders and Innovators Award Committee. To be considered, a nominee must be an African-American who attended or graduated from the University of Kansas and an acknowledged leader or innovator within his or her community, chosen profession or society at large. Posthumous nominations are acceptable and encouraged. The committee will accept nominations for the 2017 awards through Feb. 17.

Honorees will be recognized in the fall at the biennial KU Black Alumni Network Reunion Celebration. All nominees and their families are encouraged to participate.

To complete a nomination form and read about past honorees, visit kualumni.org/kublackalumni.

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Early education in jazz leads to lifetime of music for alumnus

Posted on Nov 21, 2015 in Campus News and News

Nathan Davis was among 12 alumni honored honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Davis, d’60, is a multi-instrumental jazz performer and educator. Growing up in Kansas City, near Charlie Parker’s childhood home, he got an early education in local jazz from bandleader Jay McShann before coming to KU. After earning his degree in music education, Davis joined the military, studying at the Naval School of Music and playing in military bands throughout Europe. After his service, he became a stalwart of the lively Paris jazz scene, recording his first studio albums and building his performance career as a bandleader and a sideman to Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey and other jazz greats.

In 1969, Davis returned to the U.S. to found one of the nation’s first jazz studies programs, at the University of Pittsburgh. He launched the Annual Jazz Seminar, started an academic journal devoted to the scholarly study of jazz, and established the International Academy of Jazz-Hall of Fame, which preserves jazz artifacts in the Sonny Rollins International Jazz Archives. Davis received the BNY Mellon Jazz 2013 Living Legacy Award at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for his contribution to jazz education and performance. He retired in 2013 to devote more time to composing and performing.

 

Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Alumna honored for achievements in public health

Posted on Nov 14, 2015 in Campus News and News

Cynthia Harris was among 12 alumni honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Harris, c’78, g’82, directs the Institute for Public Health at Florida A&M University. A Kansas City native, she earned degrees in biology and genetics from KU and completed her doctorate in biomedical sciences at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, she became the first African-American to serve as branch chief for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a coordinating agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

She created the first doctoral program in public health in Florida, and she designed the online master’s degree program, a first for the university and among all historically black colleges and universities. Harris chairs the board of the Florida Public Health Association and the editorial board of the Harvard Journal of Public Health. She also serves as vice president of the Trust for America’s Health, and she serves on the Florida Sickle Cell Task Force and the National Science Advisory Board on Exposure and Human Health.

 
Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Career shifts lead alumna from journalism to law to theology

Posted on Nov 3, 2015 in Campus News and News

Julie Johnson Staples was among 12 alumni honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Staples, a graduate of the KU School of Journalism, has pursued varied careers in journalism, finance and the ministry. She is currently interim senior minister of the 116-year-old Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church. As a KU student, she was the first African-American editor of the University Daily Kansan.

Staples, j’78, eventually became the White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun and The New York Times. In 1994, she earned her law degree from Georgetown University and went on to serve as the Justice Department correspondent for ABC News. She later began a career in international investing at Warburg Pincus and became the firm’s first African-American partner. Her career shifted again when she returned to graduate school to study theology and became ordained in the Congregational and American Baptist Church. She serves on the board of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.


Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Arts champion honored by Black Alumni Network

Posted on Oct 21, 2015 in Campus News and News

Erica Hawthorne-Manon was among 12 alumni honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Hawthorne-Manon, j’02, has championed the arts in her community. As a poet and actor, she is popularly known as RhapsodE. She co-founded Spoken Soul 215, a collective of young artists, singers and poets who produce the Harvest Open Mic & Showcase Experience, a monthly event.

The proud Jayhawk also mentors aspiring artists in Campus Philly Open Arts program. In 2012, she received a Knight Foundation Challenge Grant and founded Small but Mighty Arts, a program that provides micro-grants to local artists. For her work, she received a Philadelphia DoGooder Award in 2013.

 
Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Journalist-turned-lawyer honored with award

Posted on Oct 17, 2015 in Campus News and News

Audrey Lee was among 12 alumni honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Lee earned two degrees from KU’s School of Journalism: an undergraduate degree in news information followed by a Master’s of Science degree. She is also a member of the Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, KU’s first historically black sorority, and reflected on the organization’s centennial celebration held earlier this year.

As a journalist, Lee worked on international media campaigns for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope John Paul II and U.S. ambassadors. She also served on the faculty of the University of Louisville, Sullivan College and Paducah Community College. After earning her law degree from the University of Kentucky, she now works as a senior criminal defense attorney in the Paducah Trial Office for the Department of Public Advocacy. In 2012, she was recognized as the Woman of the Year by the Kentucky Federation of Business and Professional Women, and she received the Mayor’s Award of Merit.

Watch our video below to learn more about Lee.

 

Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Alumna helped lay groundwork for KU’s African and African-American Studies department

Posted on Oct 7, 2015 in Campus News and News

Alferdteen Harrison was among 12 alumni honored honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Harrison was the first African-American to earn a doctorate from KU’s department of history, and she helped lay the groundwork for the University’s African and African-American Studies department. In 1972, she joined the faculty at Jackson State University in her home state of Mississippi and created the university’s academic program in public history, the first established among historically black colleges and universities. In 1977, she spearheaded the development of the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, the first state museum to highlight African-Americans in Mississippi.

When famed poet and novelist Margaret Walker Alexander (1915-1998) retired as founder and director of Jackson State’s Institute for the Study of Life and Culture, Harrison, PhD’71, transformed the institute into the Margaret Walker Alexander Research Center, a prominent museum and archives. Harrison received the 2012 Thad Cochran Humanities Award for her contributions to Mississippi history and culture.


Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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Black Alumni Network honors alumni for achievements

Posted on Sep 11, 2015 in Campus News and News

Black Alumni Network
Twelve alumni are the 2015 recipients of the KU Black Alumni Network’s African-American Leaders and Innovators award. The network, sponsored by the KU Alumni Association, will honor them Saturday, Sept. 26, during its biennial reunion. Ten recipients will attend the event, and two will be honored posthumously.

The 10 who are scheduled to attend are:

• Nedra Patton Bonds, c’70
• Mickey Brown, c’59, g’65
• Ralph Crowder, PhD’95
• Nathan Davis, d’60
• Cynthia Harris, c’78, g’82
• Alferdteen Harrison, PhD’71
• Erica Hawthorne-Manon, j’02
• Audrey B. Lee, j’76, g’78
• Julie Johnson Staples, j’78
• Evelyn Welton, c’49

The two posthumous honorees are:

• Bertram Caruthers Sr., c’33, g’35
• Alversa Milan, f’55

The KU Black Alumni Network also will posthumously honor Michael E. Shinn, e’66, who helped found the network and the Leaders and Innovators Project in 2006. The award will be renamed for Shinn, who died in March, and his wife, Joyce, of Highland Heights, Ohio, who will attend the event.

Biographies of this year’s honorees are available here.

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