This week, Association President Heath Peterson shared plans to modernize the Kansas Honors Program (KHP) in a letter to longtime alumni volunteers. Since 1971, the KHP has recognized 135,000 Kansas Honor Scholars from all Kansas counties.
In February, the KU Alumni Association’s national Board of Directors convened a task force to conduct a comprehensive review of the program in the context of two important trends: attendance at the 36 annual KHP events has declined among students and families, and significant funding cuts to higher education have made it more difficult for the University of Kansas and the Alumni Association to fund the program.
In a survey of former Kansas Honor Scholars, volunteers and school administrators, the task force found that the dictionary award traditionally given to all Kansas Honor Scholars had become less meaningful to students in the digital era and that investing in scholarships would be more valuable.
Peterson said the new KHP format, beginning with the 2017-18 school year, will provide flexibility for scholars, their families and local high schools while reducing program expenses.
“Most important,” he noted, “the cost savings will enable the Association and the University to create more scholarship opportunities for Kansas Honor Scholars.”
The Association plans to continue working with high schools to designate top students as Kansas Honor Scholars, providing recognition certificates to all schools, where administrators can determine the best ways to recognize their scholars. In addition, the Association and the University will host revamped Kansas Honor Scholar Ceremonies throughout the state.
Peterson explained that the Association will consolidate the 36 KHP events, many of which were costly dinners, into 12 regional receptions, which begin in Lawrence in conjunction with Crimson & Blue Day–a new visit day–at KU on October 13. Scholars and their families can choose to attend the free events that are most convenient in terms of date and location.
The Kansas Honors Program is believed to be the first program of its kind in the country. No other university or alumni association in the state honors the state’s top scholars in this way.
“With your help,” Peterson concluded in his letter to alumni, “we can continue the proud tradition of honoring outstanding young Kansans and encouraging them to continue their education—ideally at the University of Kansas.”
City Manager Matt Allen was presented with Leadership Kansas’ Jim Edwards Alumnus of the Year Award in recognition of what the organization viewed as his steady, innovative community leadership. Allen earned a master’s degree from KU in 1997. Read full article.
Frank Mack, who teaches arts administration at the University of Connecticut and previously led Shakespeare theater companies in California and New Jersey, has been named executive producer at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Mack earned a bachelor’s degree from KU in 1985. Read full article.
Henry Wear, g’14, received his Ph.D. in sport and entertainment management in May from South Carolina and earned his first postdoctoral position, as a lecturer in the sport management program at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Read full article.
The University of Kansas has selected Dr. Douglas Girod as its 18th chancellor. The search committee tasked with finding Gray-Miller’s successor has local ties. Greg Ek, b’76, was part of the 24-person search committee. He also serves as a board member for the KU Alumni Association and serves as the chairman of its audit committee. Read full article.
VIVUS, Inc., announced that Thomas B. King has been appointed to VIVUS’ board of directors. Mr. King’s nearly 40 years of pharmaceutical experience ranges from large to development-stage pharmaceutical companies. He received an MBA from the KU School of Business. Read full article.
Bernard Greenberg, a retired professor of entomology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, would assist law enforcement agencies in murder investigations by helping to determine details of the death from the presence or absence of bugs on the body. He earned a doctorate in entomology from the University of Kansas in 1953. Read full article.
Nate White, 39, was named chief operating officer of Sanford Health in 2012 and will become executive vice president, based in Fargo, beginning in August. he earned a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2004. Read full article.
Ryan Colaianni, j’07, c’07, is vice president of Edelman in Washington, D.C. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, where he leads the Washington, D.C. Alumni Network and has hosted numerous student recruitment and alumni events. In 2011, he received the Dick Wintermote Award, which honors network volunteers who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership to their network and the alumni association. Ryan is a Life Member and Presidents Club member and is also a member of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors.
I became a Jayhawk because…
I knew that I wanted to study journalism at a university that allowed me to write for the student paper my freshman year. I started working for the Kansan before my first class and by my sophomore year, I was traveling the country covering the KU football team. By my junior year I was covering the men’s basketball team. I was writing professionally for the Lawrence Journal-World and the Topeka Capital Journal before I graduated.
How has KU propelled you into your current career?
The hands-on experience I gained at KU through a variety of activities, including the University Daily Kansan, and spending a summer as an orientation assistant helped develop my writing skills and instilled an ability to meet any deadline.
Where is the most unexpected place you’ve ever heard someone yell, “Rock Chalk”?
I’ve heard it everywhere! From Copenhagen to Florence to Jamaica, there is not a place I have been while wearing a KU shirt that I haven’t heard “Rock Chalk.” That bird helps make real connections in the places you least expect it.
What made your degree program distinctly KU?
I visited a number of journalism schools while looking at colleges and most provided a bland presentation with dozens of other prospective students. When I visited KU, I toured with just one other potential student and got to meet real students and professors to hear firsthand how I could succeed at KU. That experience carried over throughout my four years.
How did KU push you to try harder or to try something new?
I didn’t know a soul when I arrived at KU from the east coast. The campus community was unbelievably accepting, and I quickly had a number of different niches and groups to be a part of. From Greek life, to my classes, to the campus activities I picked, I was always challenged to go further and try something new.
My best advice for college students is…
Go to class. It will save you hours of pain when you try to cram for that exam or write that paper.
The Greater Kansas City Network has elected its officers and six new board members for the 2016 to ’17 term. Kansas City is the nation’s largest community of Jayhawks with more than 94,000 alumni. Lindsay Hare, c’02, l’05, lives in Leawood and will lead the board as president. She is an attorney and partner at Norton Hare.
Jessica Nelson, j’11, managing director of TeamKC, Kansas City Area Development Council, lives in Olathe and is executive vice president. Another Olathe resident, Sheri Hart, f’93, who manages compliance at Adknowledge, is secretary.
Executive committee members include Jace McClasky and Andrew Wank. McClasky, c’95, l’01, lives in Prairie Village and is principal attorney at Burke McClasky Stevens. Wank, b’09, enterprise relationship manager at blooom, lives in Leawood.
Six alumni who join the existing board members are:
Sasha Flores Boulware, Fairway, c’98, g’00, owner of Esbee;
Bobby Burch, Kansas City, j’11, editor in chief of Startland News;
Kimberly Hobbs, Kansas City, j’94, vice president of partnerships and premium sales at AEG Worldwide/Sprint Center;
Billy Marshall, Prairie Village, c’00, territory sales manager at Straumann, USA;
Todd Moore, Kansas City, c’96, project director at KU Medical Center; and
Melissa Thomson, Overland Park, j’01, business development manager at TREKK Design Group.
“We have six exceptional new additions to our board membership that will, without a doubt, be incredible assets to the network,” says Hare. “We cannot wait to get to work and further develop our local alumni programs and outreach to the Kansas City community over the next year.”
Hare succeeds Matthew Taylor, a senior wealth adviser at Frontier Wealth Management, who served as executive vice president from 2014 to ’15 before becoming president last year. He also led the membership committee for two years and will now serve as ex-officio president.
Taylor, b’98, g’03, has hosted and helped organize several Kansas City area alumni events, including the Jayhawk Career Networking Series, and he has served on the committee for the Rock Chalk Ball, the Alumni Association’s largest fundraiser. For his commitment and service to the Kansas City Network, Taylor received the 2016 Dick Wintermote Volunteer of the Year Award.
Nine additional board members will continue their service on various committees, including membership, community awareness, student recruitment and the Rock Chalk Ball. They are:
Jake Ballard, Leawood, b’01, senior vice president and unit manager of Lockton Companies;
Jason Booker, Olathe, b’99, senior director of corporate sponsorship and broadcast sales for the Kansas City Royals;
Scott Fiss, Leawood, b’87, principal at Johnston Fiss Insurance Agency;
Mallory Hammersmith Hannah, Kansas City, j’08, strategic marketing consultant at Mallory Hannah Inc.;
Christina Stephenson Hopkins, c’10, clinical research coordinator at the University of Kansas Cancer Center;
Grant Kollman, Prairie Village, c’10, associate director of Berkadia;
Susan Anderson Leonard, Fairway, d’96, g’07, associate principal at Shawnee Mission East High School;
Joe Mulvihill, Overland Park, b’06, director of inbound marketing at Keypath Education; and
Mark Van Blaricum, Lee’s Summit, b’99, l’02, m’08, owner/operator of Pita For Good food truck.
“The growth in the quality of programming offered in Kansas City, in addition to volunteer opportunities, student recruitment, legacy relations and the impact KU makes in community, is directly tied to the strength in leadership on our Kansas City Network board,” says Betsy Winetroub, c’05, director of Kansas City programs. “Each year our leadership gets stronger, and I couldn’t be more excited to work with Lindsay and the rest of our new officer team.”
New national board members are (l to r): Jay Kerutis, Portia Kibble Smith, Janet Murfin and Ryan Colaianni.
New officers and four new directors were among the University of Kansas alumni who gathered Sept. 9-10 at the Adams Alumni Center for the fall meeting of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors.
The national chair for 2016-’17 is Scott Seyfarth, Hinsdale, Illinois, and the chair-elect is Kevin Carroll, Johns Creek, Georgia. Both took office July 1. The new directors are Jay Kerutis, Mesa, Arizona; Janet Lusk Murfin, Wichita; Ryan Colaianni, Arlington, Virginia; and Portia Kibble Smith, Overland Park. Their five-year terms on the board began July 1.
Seyfarth earned his KU degree in accounting and business administration in 1983. A longtime volunteer leader for the Association’s Chicago Network, he joined the national board in 2010. He owns Hipskind Seyfarth Risk Solutions LLC in Chicago. He is an Association life member, and he and his wife, Eileen, are donors to the Presidents Club.
Carroll became part of the Jayhawk community in 1983, when he was hired as the first director of the Adams Alumni Center and manager of The Learned Club for the Association. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, he is now chief operating officer and general manager of the Atlanta Athletic Club.
He joined the Association’s national board in 2012. He and his wife, Lisa, have hosted KU student recruitment events in Atlanta and Florida. They are life members and donors to the Presidents Club.
Colaianni completed KU bachelor’s degrees in political science and journalism in 2007. Following graduation, he returned to his hometown of Arlington, Virginia, and began his career in Washington, D.C., where he is now vice president of Edelman public relations. He leads the Washington Network as president and has hosted numerous events to support the Association and student recruitment. He received the 2011 Dick Wintermote Award for his leadership. His wife, Erinn, earned her KU bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2007 and her master’s in 2008. The Colaiannis are Alumni Association life members and Presidents Club donors.
Kerutis earned his KU bachelor’s degree in personnel administration in 1982. He devoted his career to computer software, rising through the ranks at Digital River Inc. to become president of the software and digital commerce services division. Now retired, he is president of the Las Sendas Golf Club. He competed for KU as a swimmer and, as captain, led the team to two conference championships and organized a 25-year reunion of his teammates. He is a life member and Presidents Club donor. He is married to Pat Caldwell.
Murfin, a 1975 KU graduate in elementary education, helped create the annual Jayhawk Roundup in Wichita and with her husband, David, a 1975 KU graduate, has hosted the event every year at Murfin Stables. She is a member of the Wichita Network board and has volunteered for numerous programs. The Murfins are life members and Presidents Club donors. David Murfin is a member of the Kansas Board of Regents.
Kibble Smith earned her KU degree in personnel administration in 1978, and she owns PKS Executive Search & Consulting. She serves on the Kansas City Network board, and she has participated in numerous events, including the Rock Chalk Ball and ’Hawks, Helmets and Handlebars. She personally recruits students through her involvement in the local KU network as well as the Black Alumni Network, and she is an annual member of the Association.
The Alumni Association accepts nominations for the national board from January 1 through March 1 each year. The board’s nominating committee selects a slate of nominees in April, the board considers each member of the slate for election at its spring meeting. The board meets in the fall, winter and spring.
The University of Kansas Alumni Association has named Heath Peterson, a two-time KU graduate and 12-year veteran of the association staff, as president and CEO.
The Association’s board of directors voted unanimously to elect Peterson at the recommendation of its search committee. Peterson has served as the Association’s interim president since Aug. 1.
“The search committee received applications from talented and qualified individuals from across the country,” said Al Shank, a member of the board of directors and chair of the search committee. “After an in-depth, thorough and rigorous interview process, Heath clearly stood out as the very best person for the job.”
Peterson, who since 2013 served as vice president of alumni programs, said, “I am truly honored to lead the association and represent KU’s fiercely loyal alumni and friends. We will continue to serve the diverse interests and needs of Jayhawks, advocate for the university in the Legislature, assist in student recruitment, and identify the next generation of advisers, volunteers and donors to help strengthen KU.”
Peterson succeeds Kevin Corbett, who resigned July 31 to become executive vice president of Affiliated Builders Group (ABG), based in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Rick Putnam, national chair of the association, said: “We are extremely pleased to have Heath as president of our association. During his career, he has displayed the skill sets and work ethic to successfully lead our organization. Throughout the search process, we learned that Heath has tremendous support among our staff, our members and the university community. We are excited and optimistic about the future.”
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little praised the choice of Peterson. “I am pleased that Heath has been selected as president of the Alumni Association,” she said. “Heath has a genuine passion for all areas of the University, including academic programming, student enrollment and everything in between. As a Hugoton native, Heath knows the state of Kansas as well as anyone and brings a valuable perspective to our efforts to serve Kansans. The association and the university work together in many important ways, and I know our collaboration will thrive with Heath’s leadership.”
Dale Seuferling, KU Endowment president, said, “Heath is a hard-working, dedicated professional who will do great things in leading the Alumni Association. I look forward to working with Heath to build upon our strong partnership to advance our university. This is a great day for KU.”
Sheahon Zenger, KU athletics director, said, “The Alumni Association has been an incredible ally of Kansas Athletics during my time here, and Heath has played a big role in our partnership. He is an energetic and enthusiastic leader, and we are eager to continue our work together.”
Peterson, 34, earned his KU bachelor’s degree in education in 2004, followed by his master’s degree in education in 2009. As a student, he worked in facilities and hospitality services for the alumni association and became director of the Adams Alumni Center, the headquarters of the alumni association. In 2005, he accepted a new position as director of Kansas chapters to develop alumni groups and relationships statewide. Under Peterson’s leadership, the association engaged hundreds of new volunteers, recruited legislative advocates to assist KU as Jayhawks for Higher Education, and established more than 200 events and diverse programs to serve alumni, highlight KU academic programs, and identify and recruit prospective students. He was promoted to assistant vice president of alumni programs in 2010 and became vice president three years later. Since then, he has helped establish 114 alumni networks and dramatically increase membership in the Presidents Club, the association’s annual donor group formed in 2006.
Peterson is married to Carrie Robertson Peterson, a 2004 KU graduate in human biology. She received a doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is a dentist in Topeka. The Petersons have three young children, a son and two daughters.
The Alumni Association, founded in 1883, is an independent nonprofit organization that strengthens the University of Kansas by informing, mobilizing and supporting association members and the KU community. The association has 42,000 members, 42 full-time staff members and an annual budget of $5.6 million.
The 2013 recipients of the Fred Ellsworth Medallion for extraordinary service to the University of Kansas are P.J. “Jim” Adam, Tucson, Ariz., and Robert Malott, Wilmette, Ill.
The KU Alumni Association will honor them Friday, Sept. 20, during the fall meeting of the national Board of Directors. Since 1975, the medallions have recognized KU volunteers who have continued the tradition of service established by Ellsworth, the Association’s longest-serving chief executive.
Adam graduated from the KU School of Engineering in 1956. He retired in 2005 after a 43-year career with Black & Veatch Corp., headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. He led the firm as chairman and CEO from 1994 to 1998 and remained chairman emeritus until his retirement. He served for four years on the Alumni Association’s national board of directors, leading the organization as chair from 1998 to ’99. He also served on the Adams Alumni Center Board of Governors from 1993 to 2002. He and his wife, Barbara Mills Adam, led the Rock Chalk Ball in Kansas City as 1999 honorary chairs and participated in numerous KU events in Kansas City through the years.
For KU Endowment, Adam is a life trustee; he and Barbara are Chancellors Club members. He has assisted the past three capital campaigns for KU, serving currently on the engineering campaign committee for Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas. He helped guide the School of Engineering as a member of its advisory board and was named a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus in 1995, followed by recognition as a Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumnus in 2002. He also served on the KU Edwards Campus Advisory Board. For Kansas Athletics, the Adams are members of the Williams Education Fund.
For his service to humanity and the Kansas City community, Adam received the Distinguished Service Citation from Alumni Association and KU in 2005.
Malott graduated from the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in 1948. He retired in 1997 following a long career with FMC Corp. in Chicago, where he began working in 1952 after completing his graduate degree at the Harvard Business School. He was elected FMC’s president and CEO in 1972. One year later he became chairman of the board. He retired as chairman and CEO in 1991 but continued to serve as chair of the corporation’s executive committee until his retirement.
For the Alumni Association, Malott served on the board of directors from 1963 to ’69. For his service to humanity and the nation, he received the 1974 Distinguished Service Citation from the Alumni Association and KU.
As a KU Endowment life trustee and Chancellors Club member, he has participated in capital campaigns since the 1960s as a volunteer and donor. His gifts have included the Malott Gateway entrance to the Lawrence main campus and a portrait of his father, Chancellor Deane Malott, that hangs in the lobby of the KU Visitor Center. Malott also honored his mother by establishing the Eleanor Malott Memorial Garden and commissioning a portrait of her that hangs in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union. He has supported the University Women’s Club, which meets regularly in the Malott Room.
Since the creation of the Ellsworth medallion in 1975, 149 KU alumni and friends have received the award. Click here to see a list of previous recipients.
The Board consists of 15-30 members who meet three times each year: in January, May and September. Directors are selected from dues-paying members of the Association who are not employed by the University of Kansas.
Nominations are open through March 1, and with your help the Board hopes to recruit new directors who represent the diversity of the KU family. Newly elected directors begin their five-year terms July 1.
Click here to read more about the board member responsibilities and view the online nomination form. You can also download a PDF nomination form to complete.
Wondering who the current board members are? Click here for a list of our great volunteers.