On Wednesday, March 11, Chancellor Douglas A. Girod and Provost Barbara A. Bichelmeyer shared the following message to students, faculty and staff.
KU leaders have been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. We know that some members of the Jayhawk community have been in areas with reported cases, and we don’t expect to be immune from this virus. We have a strong team that is assessing conditions regionally and across the nation and is making recommendations guided by the following principles:
Keep KU open so it can provide services to the fullest extent possible given unprecedented circumstances.
Maintain continuity of operations that support the academic and research missions of the university.
Prevent the spread of the disease at KU and beyond.
Protect members of the KU community through self-quarantine and social distancing, especially the three groups at greatest risk:
those who may have been exposed,
those who have chronic health challenges,
those who are currently sick.
Encourage all members of the KU community to be informed and practice healthy behaviors by following CDC recommendations.
Protect equity for our most vulnerable employees and students, as much as possible, as we respond to the situation.
Respond with agility to the fluid and changing nature of the situation.
Provide clear communications to all members of the KU community.
Provide exceptions for mission-critical activities on a case-by-case basis.
Delayed Resumption of In-person Classes Until March 23
To help protect the health of all members of our community, including those who may be at higher risk of the effects of COVID-19, the resumption of in-person classes will be delayed until March 23.
Next week, March 16-22, we ask that faculty prepare to transition their course content, including lectures, to online instructional platforms, such as Blackboard. Every KU course already has an existing Blackboard shell available for faculty to start the process. Beginning the week of March 23, courses will be taught remotely using online tools. We anticipate needing to stay online for several weeks, however, our team will reassess the need to continue remote-only instruction each week, starting March 28. There will be no schedule change to courses already online.
This approach limits in-person exposure after spring break to align with the estimated COVID-19 incubation period, and allows faculty members a modest amount of time to prepare and begin the transition to online instruction. It also keeps the university functioning and helps students continue toward their educational goals.
For more of the University’s statement and resources from professional health services, visit coronavirus.ku.edu.
Update regarding Big 12 and NCAA Championships
From Kansas Athletics:
In addition to the actions taken today by the Big 12 Conference and NCAA, Kansas Athletics will cancel all planned fan activities surrounding the men’s and women’s Big 12 and NCAA Basketball Championships, including pregame parties and pep rallies.
If you purchased Big 12 Tournament tickets through the Kansas Athletics Ticket Office, you will receive a refund for games impacted by the Big 12 Conference’s decision.
Read more of the statement from Kansas Athletics, as well as the statements from the Big 12 Commissioner and the NCAA president.
The University family lost an extraordinary Jayhawk and truly dedicated leader early this morning, when Chancellor Emeritus Del Shankel died in Lawrence. 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.
Del began his KU teaching career in 1959 in the department of microbiology. He rose quickly to professor and earned numerous teaching awards, while also serving in interim roles as dean, athletics director, vice chancellor for academic affairs, executive vice chancellor, and, for six months in 2004, interim president of the Alumni Association. With his trademark wisdom, humor and compassion, Del guided the Association through a critical transition. I met him when I worked as a student employee of the Association, and through the years he has graciously offered his trusted counsel and encouragement to me and to many members of our staff. All of KU’s recent chancellors have relied on Del as a special adviser and confidante whose dedication and knowledge of KU are unsurpassed. In 2010, KU dedicated the Delbert M. Shankel Structural Biology Center on West Campus.
The Alumni Association’s staff, national Board of Directors and loyal alumni everywhere remain forever grateful to Del, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Carol, daughters Kelley and Jill, and his entire family. There is no better Jayhawk than Del.
Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09
Chancellors Archie Dykes, Del Shankel, Bernadette Gray-Little, Gene Budig, Robert E. Hemenway at the Oread Hotel for the Hilltop Honors reception in 2010.
It’s time for our sometimes-annual roundup of holiday cards from departments across the University of Kansas campus.
KU School of Music
The KU School of Music’s video greeting includes original music and animation by Leslee Wood, a graduate student working on a doctorate in musicology. The music is performed by the Bellissimo bell choir, directed by KU alumnus Jackson Thomas.
KU School of Law
Dean Stephen Mazza and the entire KU School of Law family are wishing Jayhawks an easy, breezy holiday season filled with peace & good cheer. Their greeting gives a playful nod to Dean Mazza’s area of expertise, tax policy and procedure.
KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
As the fall semester drew to a close, the College took the time to thank those who makes the KU experience special for everyone involved with a snowy picture of the bronze “Academic Jay” outside their office in Strong Hall.
Thank you, Jayhawks, for another fantastic semester. It’s you, our creative, compassionate and curious faculty, students, staff and alumni, that make the College the #HeartofKU. We appreciate all you do and hope you enjoy the winter break! pic.twitter.com/jhV3m7hWox
Today 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.”
Douglas A. Girod, M.D., became executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center on Feb. 1, 2013, where he oversaw the educational, research, patient care and community engagement missions of the University of Kansas Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions, with their total annual enrollment of more than 3,300 students; a workforce of more than 2,100 faculty and more than 4,000 staff; and research funding of nearly $100 million.
In addition to serving as executive vice chancellor, Dr. Girod also served as interim executive dean of the KU School of Medicine until March 24, 2014. Prior to those roles, he served as Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. A surgeon, Dr. Girod joined the University of Kansas Medical Center faculty in 1994 and quickly rose through the academic ranks, becoming chair of the Otolaryngology department in 2002. He was named Russell E. Bridwell Endowed Chair in 2008.
“Doug Girod brings a wealth of experience to this role. He is a proven administrator and an excellent listener, and those on the KU Medical Center campus already are well familiar with Dr. Girod’s steady guidance and leadership abilities,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Litte. “I congratulate him, and KU is in good hands. I know he will continue our work to fulfill our mission and elevate the national stature of our university into the future. ”
Learn more about the new chancellor in the official news release from the University.
The nine-day “Changing Tides of History: Cruising the Baltic Sea” journey took 23 eager Flying Jayhawks, including Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and her husband Shade, to fascinating cities and historic sites in six countries. The cruise also featured interesting talks from historical and political figures of the region including Lech Walsea, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Polish President; and Sergei Khrushchev, distinguished author and scholar and son of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Brad Eland, vice president of alumni and student programs, shared the memories of his trip.
The group arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark for an afternoon to meet our fellow travelers, stretch our legs from the long flight(s), and try to adjust to our new time zone. The weather was cool and cloudy, a big change from the Kansas heat and humidity that is normal in June! Several Jayhawks set off on foot to explore the city and see Copenhagen’s modern rail station in the heart of the city and Tivoli Gardens, which opened in 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world.
After a stroll through Copenhagen, it was time to board our floating home for the next 10 days, Le Boreal.
The city of Visby is on the small island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea and has been controlled by several countries over time. It is currently part of Sweden, but feels nothing like the bustling mainland that we visited later in the trip. Visby is a charming little town featuring a 13th-century rock wall with original gates, towers, churches and warehouses from medieval times. The museum even featured a grave with remains that are more than 9,000 years old. It truly felt like stepping back in time.
That evening we enjoyed the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board the ship and were able to meet a good majority of our fellow passengers traveling with several schools from across the country. We even played nice with alumni from fellow basketball powerhouse Duke University.
After a night of sailing on the Baltic Sea, we arrived in the port city of Gdansk, Poland. The architecture was stunning and highlighted by the city’s restored mansions that served as the homes for the aristocracy in the 14th century. Our group was also treated to a demonstration about how amber is harvested and made into precious jewelry, and we were tested on how to spot the difference between fake and real samples. It proved to be a hard distinction but a valuable lesson for the shoppers in our group.
Former Polish President Lech Walesa was one of the founders of the solidarity movement, along with Polish workers who established the first independent trade union in Eastern Europe which was a key factor in winning the Polish struggle against Communism. His speech to our travelers left us all inspired by his leadership, vision, and passion for making his country and the entire Eastern European region better.
Our fourth day of the trip was spent entirely at sea. The sunny skies and smooth sailing made for an ideal time to enjoy the sun deck on the ship with a good book or get to know fellow passengers better over a meal or coffee. It also provided our feet a respite from all of the walking we had done.
The city of Tallin, Estonia, was one that most of us on the trip had not heard of before, but it ended up being one that most of us will never forget. It blew us all away with its charming architecture and unique history. Tallin’s medieval town hall is the only intact Gothic-style hall in Northern Europe. The fantastic weather that day with sunshine and clear skies certainly left an impression on us as we enjoyed some fantastic views from high points over the entire city.
Halfway through the trip, we awoke in St. Petersburg, Russia, which was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. While Russians view Moscow as a very “natural” city with winding roads built in the heart of the country and into the natural landscape, St. Petersburg is their “engineered” city that was built completely from scratch on swampland to provide Russia with a key port to the Baltic Sea. The city is laid out in a perfect grid and was designed to be much more western and serve as a gateway to Europe.
Our day began at the incredible State Hermitage Museum, which was originally a czarist palace of Catherine the Great. This museum is so large and its collection so vast, it would take months or even years to see everything they have that highlights Russian history, art and culture. From there we saw the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood and St. Isaac’s Cathedral, which featured the famous dome and spire architecture that Russia is known for.
That evening, we were treated to a Russian folklore show at a local art center that included dancing, singing and comedy (with a smidge of vodka mixed in).
Our second day in St. Petersburg was highlighted by a visit to another of Catherine the Great’s palaces featuring the Amber Room with walls composed entirely of decorative amber. It is considered the Eighth Wonder of the World. The city has nearly 50 palaces and the opulence of the czars was truly unbelievable. You started to take the amount of gold for granted, by the end!
Our evening featured a fascinating lecture from Sergei Khrushchev, who talked about his family’s major role in Russian history as well as his views on current events in the region from his perspective while living and working in America. He had a front row seat to history and a very unique viewpoint as someone who clearly loves Russia, but has spent much of his later life in America. We all walked away with a new outlook on how Russian people view the world and current events.
The Russian people, particularly those who work in the tourism industry, blew us away with their kindness and humor. They were legitimately excited to welcome us to their country and showcase their history and culture, which made the trip that much more fun.
Our ship’s approach into Helsinki was certainly a sight to behold as we all were easily able to discern why the city has won so many recent awards for design in an urban environment. The city had an incredible modern feel to it all while we were visiting some of the city’s historic sites. A major highlight for our group was a visit to the Church of the Rock, which was impressively built directly into natural bedrock.
The final day of our trip landed us in Stockholm, Sweden. We had a light rain to deal with on our last day in Europe, but no one seemed to mind as we had a city tour by bus on the schedule. Stockholm proved to again have its own unique flair for architecture and design. This part of the world certainly has made its mark on that front melding the modern with all of the history they have as well. That, along with the “white nights” we experienced during summer in the Baltic Region, will certainly be unforgettable. Thankfully our ship was well prepared with blackout shades—we were far enough north that we only had 3-4 hours of darkness per night.
As the 23 Flying Jayhawks departed for home or for more European adventures without the group, everyone was thankful for what we had experienced and eager for the next trip with fellow Jayhawks.
—Brad Eland, vice president of alumni and student programs, hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip “Changing Tides of History: Cruising the Baltic Sea” from June 15-24, 2016. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2017 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.
Robert E. Hemenway, who served as KU’s 16th chancellor from 1995 to 2009, died Friday at the age of 73. KU posted a statement from Chancellor Gray-Little to its Facebook page on Saturday.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chancellor Hemenway,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “Chancellor Hemenway was a visionary leader who guided the University of Kansas to unprecedented heights and successes during his time here. Under his leadership, the university made tremendous strides in how we educate students, conduct research, and serve the people of Kansas. I know I can speak for the entire KU community in saying we owe him a debt of gratitude, for the work he did paved the way for so much of the great work we’re doing today. Most importantly, Bob was a wonderful man who loved his job, loved the people around him, and loved this place — and he was loved in return. On behalf of the entire university, I extend my condolences to Chancellor Hemenway’s family and friends.”
The KU Alumni Association honored Hemenway in 2012 with the Fred Ellsworth Medallion, its highest honor. A tribute video from that event is embedded below and available on YouTube.
According to the Lawrence Journal-World, a memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9 at the Dole Institute of Politics. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Robert E. Hemenway Scholarship fund at KU. Gifts may be sent in care of KU Endowment, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, 66044.