Black alumni celebrate reunion events

Posted on Nov 6, 2013 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

More than 100 members of the KU Black Alumni Chapter celebrated their biannual reunion Nov. 1-2, including a banquet Nov. 1 featuring the recognition of nine African-American Leaders and Innovators.

Four winners attended the event, including Homer Floyd, d’61; La Vert Murray, c’71; Julie Robinson, j’78, l’81; and Lynette Woodard, c’81. Illness prevented Leslie Meacham Saunders, c’73, of Roswell, Ga., from attending.

img_news_bac_boboFour alumni were honored posthumously: Wilbur Goodseal, d’52, g’62; Chester I. Lewis Jr., c’51, l’53; Marie Ross, c’44; and Cheryl Warren Mattox, f’72.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little attended the banquet and congratulated the award-winners for breaking down barriers not only on campus but also in Lawrence. “Even after our own practices caught up with our ideals, those students still had to cope in the surrounding community,” she said, adding that she is concerned that “new barriers of income and class are reoccurring in a way that would take us backward. Who knew that some students now do not have the opportunities we did in the 1960s and ’70s?”

Floyd, of Harrisburg, Pa., retired after 41 years as director of Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission. He was the first African-American co-captain of the KU football team. “Coming to KU as a student-athlete helped me to understand what was important and why I should advance equal opportunity programs in the country,” he said. “A lot of things could be done legally it we just did it right. I found the job of a lifetime in Pennsylvania.”

Murray, who has helped revitalize Kansas City, Kan., as one of the developers of the Village West/Legends shopping district and the Kansas Speedway, recalled that as a student he was inspired by the inscription on Spooner Hall: Whosoever Findeth Wisdom Findeth Life. “I don’t know if I found wisdom,” he said, “but the University of Kansas set me on a glorious path in pursuit thereof.”

As he returned to his table, his young granddaughter said, “Great job, Papa,” to the delight of the crowd.

img_news_bac_receptionNancy Dawson, now a college professor who began working at the Kansas City Call at age 14, accepted for the late Marie Ross, who was a regional leader among journalists, defying those who told her African-Americans could not succeed in the profession. “I’m a flower from the seeds she planted,” Dawson said.

Robinson, who since 2002 has served as a federal judge in Topeka, was the first African-American woman to serve on the federal bench in Kansas. “Other than my home and my mother and father, this is the place that inspired and motivated me,” she told her fellow alumni.

Woodard returned to campus from her home in Houston, where she is a financial adviser.   A member of the KU women’s basketball team, she became an Academic All-American, Olympic gold medalist, the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters and a member of 10 basketball halls of fame. She holds the KU scoring record of 3,649 points during her career, and she was the first woman to have her jersey hung in Allen Field House.   “It’s an honor to be here among so many friends,” she said, adding special thanks to KU professor Bill Tuttle, who introduced her during the ceremony. “He has been my friend since 1977, before he even knew I could play basketball.”

After returning to her table, Woodard glanced into the hallway to find that another old friend and classmate had arrived to surprise her: Darnell Valentine, c’81, who played for KU from 1977 to 1981. Valentine, a former Olympian and NBA player, now a representative of the NBA Players’ Association, happened to be traveling through town on a business trip from Portland, Ore., and had stopped to watch the men’s team practice. He greeted the crowd and congratulated Woodard and the other Leaders and Innovators.

The chapter also honored Dorthy Pennington, g’70, PhD‘74, as a distinguished faculty member; alumnus Bill Fleming, c’67, for his distinguished service; and KU senior Fatoumata Bayo for her leadership of the Black Student Union and other campus organizations.

The chapter’s business meeting on Saturday morning launched the Black Alumni Chapter Scholarship Campaign. During the weekend, alumni contributed more than   $50,000 to support incoming and current outstanding African-American students. Following the meeting, the group took a campus bus tour with Blane Harding, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs Director. On Saturday evening, Phi Beta Sigma fraternity members presented a step show to enthusiastic applause from alumni.

The weekend concluded on Sunday morning with friends old and new gathering at different locations around Lawrence for worship services and continued reminiscing. The weekend was a great success, and we hope to see everyone back in two years!

Watch the slideshow below to see pictures from the reunion events, or click here to view the photos on Flickr.

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Student Profile: Katherine Rainey

Posted on Oct 3, 2013 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

The Black Alumni Chapter’s e-newsletter regularly features profiles of interesting alumni and students. In the fall issue, get to know current student Katherine Rainey. If you have suggestions for future alumni or student profiles, please email Click here to read the e-newsletter.

Katherine Rainey, the 2013-14 president of the KU Black Student Union (BSU), is a 2011 graduate of Mill Valley High School in Shawnee. She is a junior studying psychology and chemistry, and after graduation she plans to attend medical school and become a psychiatrist.

Katherine RaineyRainey says the BSU has been an essential part of her success and growth, and she credits the BSU with helping her learn more about herself, how to be a better leader and the importance of dedication and hard work. It is her personal goal to reach at least one student in this way.

“BSU hopes to affect not just the black community, but the KU campus as a whole,” Rainey said. “Our vision for the BSU is to serve the campus with cultural, educational and social initiatives as we aim to build leaders, promote unity and contribute to student success. That is why our theme this year is STRIVE, which stands for service, tenacity, reflection, intellect, virtue and excellence. Our hope is that students will find value in these six words and push themselves to be better than their best.”

She believes the time is now for her generation to stand up against societal problems, such as race relations, African-American school retention rates and violence. The BSU hopes to create a place to discuss these problems, come up with solutions and put them into action. “I wish everyone all the best in the coming year,” Rainey said.

If alumni would like to get involved the BSU welcomes their advice and support. Katherine can be reached at

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Rock Chalkin’ on Wescoe Beach

Posted on Oct 2, 2013 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Wescoe Beach was awash in color Tuesday during the annual Chalk ’n’ Rock competition, one of the featured events of KU Homecoming. Students in 20 campus organizations crawled along the sidewalks, coloring, smudging and rubbing chalk to create giant murals illustrating the Homecoming theme, “Jayhawks Around the World.”

“We all get out here, and it’s really creative and it’s so colorful and we have so much fun getting covered in chalk,” says KZOO President Olivia Lynch.

This year’s entries included many Jayhawks flying in planes and hot air balloons around the world, an array of international flags, and various landmarks to achieve a worldly feel.

The friendly competition also offers an opportunity for student groups to collaborate. “I know that through partnerships we have on campus, more events will start to come up. That’s what I love the most is seeing all the organizations come out” says Mariah Givens of the Black Student Union.

The chalk drawings will be on display outside Wescoe Hall–weather permitting– through the rest of Homecoming Week.

Click here to see photos from Chalk ‘n’ Rock, and watch the video below.

–Dan Storey

Jayhawks Around the World, 2013 KU Homecoming | www.kualumni.orgThis year’s Homecoming theme, Jayhawks Around the World, celebrates the University’s global reach in terms of international students and faculty, research discoveries that change the world and the achievements of KU alumni, who live in 150 countries around the globe. Visit for a schedule of events and to learn more about KU’s Homecoming tradition.

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