Hip-hop artist delivers ‘school is cool’ message

Posted on Aug 18, 2018 in Alumni News and News

MaQuishia "Cue" Wright | photo by Steve Puppe for Kansas Alumni magazine | Cue Wright
Cue Wright hopes to one day retire from a successful music career and return to KU as a hip-hop professor. “Helping people,” she says, “is what I really like to do.” The following profile originally appeared in issue No. 3, 2018, of Kansas Alumni magazine.

On Feb. 4, 2017, a new Cue Wright was born. Already having earned two KU degrees and in the early days of a promising career in higher education, Wright shed her naturally shy self and stepped onto the outdoor stage at Mass Street’s Replay Lounge as the hip-hop artist Cuee.

And slayed.

“I knew I could write raps,” says Wright, j’15, g’17, “but I didn’t know I could perform as well as I did.”

A Chicago native, Wright was coaxed into a campus visit by her mother’s longtime employer, “Uncle” Gale Sayers, d’75, g’77. Front-row seats to a basketball game didn’t hurt, but it was Mount Oread that stole Wright’s heart.

Memories of that day are valuable tools in her current part-time job as senior coordinator of student ambassadors. When she meets with prospective students, Wright uses her story to help others write their own.

“I always channel that with my out-of-state students,” she says. “They’re thinking, ‘Why am I at Kansas?’ Well, go out on this campus and let it fill you.”

Finding her way

Wright arrived as a civil engineering major, but felt lost. Her mother asked what she was doing outside of class, to which Wright responded, “Nothin’.”

Wright switched her major to journalism, found her way to KJHK and eventually became director of hip-hop programming. Shortly before winter break of her senior year, her J-School adviser noted her “people-person” personality and suggested she consider a student affairs role in higher education. That required a master’s degree, yet another unknown for Wright, but she dove in. Soon her advanced studies were wearing her thin.

“I need an outlet. I need an other. I need something else. And so I started writing rap. Everything I’m doing is self-taught, but luckily I love to learn.”

Encouraged by family and friends, Wright in 2017 released “Master’s Cap,” in which six songs each explore a year of her college experience.

“My thing is,” she says, “school is cool. I love school. I’m a nerd.”

Wright’s current mixtape, “Shameless,” which she’s dropping online throughout 2018, displays her growth as an artist, both in writing skills (My life is a tornado/The haters all around me, everything will be OK, though) and emotional maturity that “lets the world know who I am.” Her success led to a busy summer schedule in Lawrence and Kansas City, including a prominent gig at the Middle of the Map Fest at Crown Center.

“Pursuing hip-hop in Lawrence has been different. They put me on a lot of alternative shows, and the audience sees this hip-hop opener and it’s totally different than what they’ve signed up for. The rewarding part is when they say, ‘Now I’m a hip-hop fan.’

“I take the blank stares as a challenge, and I love challenges.”

—Chris Lazzarino

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Unlikely football star lands in victory lane on NASCAR pit crew

Posted on Aug 13, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Staying competitive after football

At 6-feet-2, 250 pounds, former KU defensive lineman and part-time fullback TJ Semke knew he was just about the perfect size and body type to play fullback in the NFL. He also knew that NFL offenses no longer feature fullbacks, so career prospects were slim at best.

“That dream kind of died out,” Semke, d’16, says from the North Carolina headquarters of Hendrick Motorsports. “But I still wanted to do something that would keep me competitive and have that locker room feel, be around the guys, and NASCAR ended up being a good fit for that.”

Thrill of victory

Now in his second season with Hendrick Motorsports and his first on the pit crew team for Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet, Semke on Aug. 5 got to experience the thrill of victory when Elliott held off the determined Martin Truex Jr. on the Watkins Glen International road course.

TJ Semke | Courtesy Hendrick MotorsportsIt was win No. 1 for Elliott, a third-year driver and son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, and the 250th in the illustrious racing history of Hendrick Motorsports, and nobody celebrated more enthusiastically in victory lane than a jackman from Kansas City who just a few years earlier knew next to nothing about auto racing.

“It was pretty special for Chase to get his first win, and it was the 250th for the company, which is a big deal,” Semke says. “All the pieces fell together and it ended up being a big deal. It was definitely good vibes coming back to work on Monday.”

An unusual path

Even before he became a professional athlete in NASCAR, Semke’s route through athletics was unusual and his story unique.

Semke fractured a vertebra during his junior season at Lee’s Summit North High School; he made it through his senior season while constantly fighting through “a lot of issues with my discs.” When his doctors finally told him to stop playing football, Semke complied and turned down offers to play at Division II colleges.

He grew up a “big MU guy,” and shocked his family when he came to Lawrence and enrolled at KU as a full-time student.

“Something drew me there,” Semke says. “I liked the school when I went on a visit, so I just went there.”

Ripe for recruitment

An energetic and successful student in high school, Semke likewise threw himself into his studies on the Hill, and even worked part-time for his mother’s boyfriend’s bail bond business, tracking down absconders who skipped court dates.

Although work as a bounty hunter provided the occasional adrenaline rush he still craved, it wasn’t the same as football. After two years away from the sport, Semke was ripe for recruitment when he noticed a University Daily Kansan advertisement announcing open tryouts for football walk-ons.

He tried out during the spring of his sophomore year, made the team, and entered his junior year with sophomore standing in football. A natural fullback in a pro-style offense with little need for fullbacks, Semke fashioned himself a high-energy playmaker on special teams; during practice, though, he moved to the scout team’s defensive line.

Putting in the work

“I was a little bit undersized for that,” he says, “but I was just out there every day, working hard, making plays, and I kind of got noticed. So they thought, why don’t we give this a shot? That whole next spring, my redshirt junior year, they put in a lot of time with me, getting me ready to play, and I ended up starting the first six games of my junior year on the defensive line.”

After being featured in Sports Illustrated thanks to his bounty-hunter background, Semke played defensive end as a senior, along with fullback when necessary—like Turner Gill before him, coach Charlie Weis rarely featured fullbacks—and when his KU playing days were done Semke began focusing on the NFL. He performed well at his Pro Day workouts, earning a workout with the Kansas City Chiefs and a minicamp invitation from the New Orleans Saints.

Leaving football behind

Realistic about his chances, Semke left football behind for good when he was invited to join more than 100 other candidates for pit-crew tryouts at Hendrick headquarters.

Hendrick, it turns out, sends a pit-crew coach out on the road with its race teams, and he spends race weeks visiting collegiate football program near every track, searching for potential recruits. At Kansas Speedway, KU coaches put in a good word for Semke, touting his speed, strength, attitude and energy.

Semke lived up the billing he received from his former football coaches, and in spring 2016 he was introduced as one of five new pit crew recruits at Hendrick’s second Signing Day event.

He spent his first full season learning the jackman’s job on a variety of teams and racing series, and this year was named a full-time member on Elliott’s No. 9 Camaro.

TJ Semke | Courtesy Hendricks Motorsports

Steep learning curve

“TJ is a pretty special guy,” says veteran crew chief Alan Gustafson. “He’s physically gifted, to say the least, to be that big and that fast and strong. He’s a really competitive guy and a fun guy to have on our team. We’ve been really impressed with him and his ability with relatively no experience pitting the car. His learning curve has been amazing. We expect really big things from him in the future.”

Semke’s learning curve got steeper this season when NASCAR announced new pit-lane regulations that allowed for only five crew members over the wall during races, rather than the previous limit of six. That meant double-duty for someone on each crew, and Hendrick’s solution was to make the jackman also responsible for putting on tires, all within the 13-second timeframe of a high-pressure pit stop.

“You have double the work and you’re still trying to be fast,” Semke says. “It presented a lot of challenges, but that’s kind of what’s fun about it. We have a bunch of athletic guys who know how to adapt and change, so it worked out in our favor.”

Brains and brawn

As expected, Semke relishes the vigorous physical environment at Hendrick, where pit crews lift weights under the supervision of a team of trainers, go through full-speed pit training and even spend Mondays doing yoga to improve flexibility.

Perhaps not as expected, though, is the intelligence Semke brings to the team, which pays off in the team’s constant film study. He was named Academic All-Big 12 and graduated with at 3.1 GPA.

“A lot of people might look at me—the tattoos, and I’m a big, strong guy—and they might think, ‘Oh, this guy’s just a meathead, a cave-man type of guy, eats a bunch of meat.’ At a glance you might just think that’s what I am.

“But anything I do I want to be really good at it. I can hit the books and I can hit the weights, both. It definitely feels good to have a degree from the University of Kansas, that’s for sure.”

—Chris Lazzarino


WATCH:

TJ Semke, No. 9 team jackman, gives fans a closer look inside the Hendrick Motorsports heat training program.

 

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KU sophomore answers call for once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Posted on Mar 31, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Darrius Sheppard, KU sophomore who performed the national anthem at the Final Four in San Antonio
The call came Tuesday and was entirely unexpected:

“We need anthem singers who are music students at each of the Final Four schools. Could you do it?”

Before sophomore voice major Darius Sheppard could fully process this most unexpected opportunity to perform the national anthem at Saturday’s Final Four in San Antonio, he quickly replied, “I’m only 20. I need to ask my parents. Can I email you tonight?”

Sheppard—a tenor who performed a spine-tingling rendition of the national anthem with fellow students from Michigan, Villanova and Loyola-Chicago before the start of Saturday evening’s first game in the packed Alamodome—laughs when he recalls the reply he heard from the NCAA official: “OK, but instead of emailing tonight, can you call back in five minutes?”

Sheppard immediately phoned his parents, and, permission secured, on Wednesday booked his flight and on Thursday arrived in San Antonio, thrilled to represent KU on the biggest stage on collegiate athletics.

“It’s been an amazing week, absolutely incredible,” Sheppard said, shaking his head and smiling broadly. As he returned his attention to the first half of the Michigan-Loyola game, playing out just a few yards from his floor-level seat, Sheppard grinned and shouted over the crowd, “Rock Chalk!”

—Chris Lazzarino

Visit the ’Hawks ’n Hoops postseason hub for more information, and don’t miss additional Final Four coverage from Lawrence, San Antonio, and alumni networks around the country.

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Field-trip fans light up Wichita arena

Posted on Mar 14, 2018 in Alumni News and News

KU fans at open practice

Shortly before his Jayhawks strode onto the Intrust Bank Arena court for their open practice, coach Bill Self renewed his oft-repeated hope that his players keep a light bounce in their step despite the pressures of NCAA Tournament competition: “Just go out, have fun and let’s enjoy the moment, and let’s play with joy and passion. Play with a free mind.”

When they emerged from the arena’s wings a few moments later, the Jayhawks were greeted with an instant lesson in how to enjoy the moment and embrace the fun: Wichita schools on Wednesday morning bused thousands of school children to the arena, and they lit the place with an energy unprecedented in the sedate history of NCAA Tournament open practices.

Dozens or perhaps hundreds of long yellow buses clogged the streets and parking lots around Intrust Bank Arena, and once inside, the bouncy kids happily cheered each of the teams that emerged for open-practice shootarounds. They were happy to cheer on all the athletes, but anticipation for the Jayhawks’ appearance brought on a high-energy buzz as the children—who filled more than half of an arena that seats more than 15,000—began chanting “KU! KU! KU!” When the KU team emerged to waves of screams, players’ faces lit up and coaches’ smiles beamed.

After singing along to the fight song piped in over the scoreboard speakers, kids carried on with assorted chants of “Jayhawks! Jayhawks!” and “Go KU! Go KU!”, and the kids and other Wichita fans and alumni who filled the arena nearly to capacity cheered heartily when center Udoka Azubuike, wearing a brace on his injured left knee but otherwise looking fairly mobile and healthy, made free throws.

KU basketball team at open practice at the NCAA Tournament 2018

When practice concluded, the Jayhawks huddled at midcourt, then waved to the crowd, encouraging more and more cheers. Big 12 Player of the Year Devontè Graham brought the half-hour affair to a roaring conclusion by draining a jump shot from midcourt.

Kansas, Big 12 champion and the Midwest region’s top seed, faces No. 16 seed Penn at 1 pm Thursday in a game to be broadcast by TBS.

“Our players know after watching tape that [Penn] is definitely not a 16,” Self said. “So they have our attention.”

Azubuike strained a knee ligament during practice before the Big 12 tournament. He has had limited practice with the team this week, and Self hopes the 7-footer can play at least “a few minutes” Thursday, with prospects for more significant playing time should KU advance.

“That 70 percent tomorrow,” Self said, “could be 85 percent by Friday and 90 percent by Saturday if we’re fortunate enough to win.”

—Chris Lazzarino

WATCH:

 

PHOTOS:

Check out a few more photos from practice on our Flickr page. Photos and video by Steve Puppe.

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The Mighty ’Hawks

Posted on Jan 23, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Kansas Alumni magazine, issue No. 1, 2018 | Mighty Hawks club ice hockey

Club hockey returns, better than ever

Driven by their love for the game, a group of dedicated sports club athletes is leading a hockey resurgence at KU.

Yo juego hockey.

When his Spanish teacher asked students to introduce themselves to a classmate, Andy McConnell turned to an unknown guy seated nearby and said, en español, “I play hockey.”

When he arrived at KU, McConnell immediately sought out the men’s ice hockey club team. What he found here was not good. There were no prospects for the sport’s return, until McConnell heard his classmate’s reply:

Yo juego hockey.

McConnell closed out his playing career two years ago and has since volunteered his time as the club’s head coach.

Read:

Find out how KU’s ice hockey club team was reborn in Chris Lazzarino’s cover story for issue no. 1, 2018, of Kansas Alumni magazine.

 


Watch:

 

 

For more information about the award-winning Kansas Alumni magazine, click here.

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Dyche Hall’s beasts descend from their perches

Posted on Dec 7, 2017 in Alumni News and News

Kansas Alumni magazine | Dyche Hall

The KU Alumni Association recently mailed the latest issue of Kansas Alumni magazine to association members.

Issue six includes features about the grotesques of Dyche Hall; a hundred-year-old murder mystery solved by alumnus Bill James; and the popular sunflower fields of Grinter Farms.

Monsters of the Mind

A top-floor renovation of Dyche Hall reveals pressing needs for KU’s other mythical beasts: the grotesques that for a century have kept watch on Jayhawk Boulevard from their Natural History Museum perch.

Eroded to near-extinction, the iconic grotesques have found refuge in the Panorama as plans are pondered for their replacement.

Read Chris Lazzarino’s cover story below.

 

Recognized for overall excellence by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the award-winning Kansas Alumni magazine is mailed bi-monthly to members of the KU Alumni Association. Members can log in to read the full issue online or through the KU Alumni app. Nonmembers can access a free preview article from each issue.

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Jayhawks all the way in Vets Day 5K

Posted on Nov 13, 2017 in Alumni News and News

Veterans Day Run participants run by the Campanile |Vets Day 5K

In the final minutes before the start of the 2017 Vets Day 5K, Nov. 12 at Memorial Stadium, 24-year Army veteran Scot Bird relished the joy of a rare visit to Mount Oread—“Iowa by birth,” he said. “KU by the grace of God”—and the pleasure he and his wife, 22-year Army veteran Mary Bird, would soon share in their leisurely run down Memorial Drive, Jayhawk Boulevard and Sunnyside Avenue.

“We’re not going for time,” Bird said. Holding up his phone and its camera, he added, “We’re going for this.”

The gray fall morning also brought reflective moods from the Birds, who live in Junction City, where Mary is a community volunteer and Scot works as the civilian transportation officer at nearby Fort Riley. Mary served in operation Desert Storm, Scot deployed to Iraq, and the spirit of Veterans Day weekend was very much on their minds.

“We both lost friends,” Mary Bird said. “It’s been going on for so long, it’s almost inevitable. So, yes, they are in our thoughts today.”

Generations of Jayhawks

As the runners, joggers, walkers, stroller-pushers and a few four-legged companions wound their way around campus—Dan Edidin won the race, in 18 minutes, 16.9 seconds, and Lucy Hardy won the women’s competition in 20:34.5—U.S. Air Force veteran John Forney raced with a rare advantage over the rest of the field: years of practicing and racing a similar 2-mile course around and atop Mount Oread while running cross-country at KU, from 1948 to ’50.

“This is in honor of coach Bill Easton,” said the jubilant Forney, c’51, who won the men’s 75-99 age group.

Forney, a third-generation Jayhawk who is now retired in Denver, was joined in the Vets Day 5K by his son, David, e’88, and grandson Sam, both of Charlottesville, Virginia. Cheering them on was Forney’s wife, Eleanor Kothe Hardy, c’57.

“When Grandpa called and said, ‘We’ve got to run this Vets Day 5K,’ we signed up immediately,” Sam recalled. “It’s not just my first visit to KU; it’s also my first time in Kansas, and we’re having a great time.”

High-five for the participants

Honoring KU ROTC’s centennial and hosted by KU Student Veterans of America and the Veterans Alumni Network, the Vets Day 5K attracted 391 registered participants, ranging in age from 7 to 88 and hailing from nine states and two countries (the U.S. and Thailand).

All participants received impressive medals, and age-group winners were awarded custom cooler cups as trophies. (A special shout-out to Kansas Alumni photographer Steve Puppe, j’98, winner of the men’s 40-44 age group.) And, a lucky few were also treated to a homestretch high-five from Ryker Butterworth, young son of racer Matt Butterworth, c’15, who served eight years as an Air Force crew chief.

Veterans Day Run participants are treated to a high five from Ryker Butterworth, young son of racer Matt Butterworth, c’15 | Vets Day 5K

Still riding a wave of euphoria after completing the 5K, Scot Bird explained another level of motivation driving him: He is a cancer survivor who finally forced himself to begin exercising again in February 2016, after months of recuperation following his intensive treatments. After starting with walks of little more than a few dozen yards, Bird rapidly progressed back to something resembling the fitness of his soldier days, and he is now a regular competitor at regional races of all distances.

“She’s really the runner,” Bird said of his wife, Mary, “and I was tired of sitting there watching her go out the door. So, I got up off the couch. I’m vertical because of her.”

—Chris Lazzarino, Kansas Alumni magazine

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All for a good cause

Posted on Oct 23, 2017 in Alumni News and News


It won’t register in either team’s standings or record books, but the Oct. 22 KU-Missouri men’s basketball exhibition game at Kansas City’s Sprint Center counted in a way that mattered much more than sports: The made-for-charity game between two schools that haven’t played each other in men’s basketball since 2012 generated $1.75 million (and rising) for hurricane relief.

“Kudos to both administrations and fan bases for doing something so special,” said KU coach Bill Self. “I admit, I had butterflies. I was excited to be out there.”

After a few pregame chants of the unpleasant, old-school variety—the sort of enmity that made many fans relieved the rivalry was halted by Missouri’s departure for the Southeastern Conference—reverberated inside Sprint Center, the great majority of Jayhawks and Tigers appeared eager to instead root hard for their team while also applauding the afternoon’s real purpose.

During timeouts, the scoreboard played video clips with KU and Mizzou athletes from hurricane-ravaged regions describing the devastation and challenges faced by their families, and thanking fans for supporting the game. Those short video clips generated loud applause by fans from both schools, evidence that the big picture remained clearly in focus, even as a hard-fought game was unfolding on the court.

“You can tell how much juice there was in the building,” said KU senior guard Devonte’ Graham, who led all scorers with 25 points, along with 10 rebounds and five assists. “It was a great atmosphere to play in.”

After KU’s 93-87 victory, both Self and first-year Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin noted the value in the rare opportunity to play an exhibition game against a Div. 1 opponent—normally not allowed, with exceptions made this year only to support relief causes. Not only did young players get to experience a big-game atmosphere, but the contest also generated game tape that will provide countless teaching moments for the coaches as they continue their season preparations.

“The things we’ve been telling them they’re deficient at,” Self said, “now they’ll believe.”

KU’s next exhibition game is against Pittsburg State, Oct. 31 in Allen Field House.

—Chris Lazzarino

Update: According to Kansas Athletics, the charity exhibition basketball game generated $2.011 million for victims of recent natural disasters in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The donations are a combination of ticket sales ($1.15 million), the Pay-per-View stream ($768,000) and text-to-give contributions ($68,000). Donations from other entities totaled approximately $25,000, bringing the total donation to some $2.011 million.

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Haggis and More: Flying Jayhawks soak in Scotland’s charm

Posted on Sep 27, 2017 in Alumni News and News

Flying Jayhawks | Scotland | www.kualumni.org photo courtesy of Chris Lazzarino

Don’t eat haggis for breakfast. Ever.

That was the stern warning from Alice, the Flying Jayhawks’ Edinburgh-based tour guide for a weeklong glide through the understated wonders of sunny (!) Scotland.

Alice had haggis on her mind because it had recently come to her attention that our hotel—a charming, 19th-century school just a few blocks downhill from the magnificently restored Stirling Castle—had recently begun offering haggis at its breakfast buffet. She never explained exactly why this was such a bad thing—“It’s just not done,” she said, utterly exasperated—yet Alice was clear: She was none too pleased about the cultural faux pas.

Alice did not have much to worry about. We did not eat the haggis at breakfast. Most of us sampled the native dish at our welcome dinner, which featured a “Haggis Ceremony,” complete with a bagpiper, a big knife, and an energetic narrator who told us much about … well, we’re not quite sure of the details, because his Scottish brogue was a bit thick, but he was friendly and fun and a good time was had by all before finally falling into our beds for badly needed sleep.

Scotland’s beloved delicacy

Enough with the haggis. But as long as we’re on the topic of beloved national delicacies, did we mention the Scotch? That’s whisky without the “e,” and we sampled the good stuff after a tour of Scotland’s oldest working distillery, Glenturret, just outside the town of Crieff. It’s a single-batch distillery that offers its lovely golden elixirs as its own (expensive) label, but also sells much of its production run to The Famous Grouse, a blender that has become the biggest-selling brand of Scotch in the world.

Back to the beginning

But that was a highlight of Day Seven. Back to the beginning. Our travelers commenced their Alumni Holidays International journey by gathering at Edinburgh International Airport. The 19 Jayhawks were joined by smaller groups from Johns Hopkins, McGill, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State universities, and we all made our acquaintances during an hour-long bus ride from Edinburgh—which was awash in festivalgoers attending a slew of international events in the Scottish capital city—to Stirling, an old, hillside town awash in history and our home for the next nine days.

Led in grand fashion by travel director Carole Petipher, a high-energy Brit who specializes in all things French yet delights in her occasional assignments to Scotland, our merry band spent the morning of our first full day touring Stirling Castle, childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots. The “stirring vistas from the ramparts” promised in our brochure delivered splendidly, despite a cold rain that dampened no moods.

If we feared that first morning’s weather might have been an omen, we were wrong. Except for one or two brief, fast-moving storms, our nine days in Scotland were so sunny and delightful that the locals seemed a bit out of sorts. Scots are so used to complaining about their weather, we were told, that they refuse to cease their grumbling just because a little bit of sunshine.

After starting our days with history lectures from a retired local professor straight out of central casting—John was upset not about breakfast haggis, but rather the U.K.’s shocking vote to leave the European Union—we continued our journeys through the towns and countryside surrounding Stirling: the magnificent Loch Lomond in The Trossachs National Park, the golf mecca of St. Andrews, battlefields and monuments, castles and palaces.

Flying Jayhawks travel group in Scotland | Flying Jayhawks | www.kualumni.org courtesy of Chris Lazzarino

Highlights of the trip

Aside from the friendships forged among fellow travelers, the trip’s highlight was attending the legendary Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, aptly described as a “compendium of precision marching bands, drill teams, pyrotechnics and Highland dancing performed on the floodlit esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.” Those AHI brochure writers, they’re good, and they’re right. Wow. Just … wow.

The “military tattoo” ceremony originates from 18th-century regimental bands that struck up their tunes to alert garrisoned troops to “quit the saloons and return to the barracks.” That part of the custom, however, seems to have been lost to the haze of history, because nobody in Edinburgh that night—absolutely nobody—was quitting anything or returning anywhere. We attended on the final night of the monthlong series of performances, an evening that also marked the end of the Edinburgh International Festival, featuring opera, music, theatre and dance performances throughout the heart of the gorgeous old town, as well as the cultural stalwart’s now-thriving cheeky cousin, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, described as the “largest arts festival in the world.”

On the day of our visit, literally millions of festivalgoers flooded Edinburgh’s cobblestone sidewalks, making navigation difficult yet filling the crisp air with an energy that cannot be replicated.

Such are the joys of travel, those special days and nights when you see, hear, taste and feel things that cannot be described, only experienced. Join us for your own adventure of a lifetime. Become a Flying Jayhawk and see your special corner of the world with your own eyes.

—Chris Lazzarino

The Flying Jayhawks trip to Scotland took place August 23-31, 2017, and was hosted by Chris Lazzarino, associate editor of Kansas Alumni magazine. Watch the slideshow below to see more pictures from the trip, or view the photos on Flickr. Pictures may be downloaded for personal use. For more information about Flying Jayhawks trips, including a schedule, visit our website.
 
Flying Jayhawks: Scotland
 

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Corman receives well-deserved salute at Sporting KC soccer match

Posted on Sep 26, 2017 in Alumni News and News

Warren Corman, former university architect | Photo by Steve Puppe | www.kualumni.org

Retired University Architect and former U.S. Navy Seabee Warren Corman, e’50, on Sunday was honored during a “Salute to Service” ceremony during Sporting Kansas City’s 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Corman, 91, was among the combat construction engineers thrust in April 1945 into the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest battle of the Pacific campaign, and he has since carried the Seabees’ motto with him in every facet of his life’s work: “If it’s difficult, we do it immediately; if it’s impossible, we take several days.”

Only 18 at the time, with no wife or children waiting for him back home, Corman remained in Okinawa for another year after the end of the war. Upon his return, Corman hustled through his coursework with trademark energy, completing five years of coursework in four and graduating in 1950 with a degree in architectural engineering.

Corman’s early career

Shortly after joining the state architect’s office, Corman assisted with the design and construction of Allen Field House. He worked for the state of Kansas until 1957, when he was lured to Delaware when DuPont promised him a big boost in pay and lifetime employment; a depression hit the East Coast six months later, DuPont closed its architecture office, and Corman then spent two years with a small Wilmington firm.

Once he and his family made their way back to Kansas, Corman spent seven years with two Topeka firms before joining the Board of Regents in 1966.

A return to KU

Chancellor Robert E. Hemenway in 1997 convinced Corman to return to his alma mater as University architect and special assistant to the chancellor, posts he held until his December 2010 retirement—an unlikely event that, in fact, did not last long, as Corman joined the School of Engineering as the dean’s construction adviser, a position he held until 2015.

Now fully retired, Corman maintains close ties with the University as an executive committee member serving the Association’s KU Veterans Alumni Network.

Salute to service

Warren Corman from the cover of Kansas Alumni magazine, Issue No. 1, 2011 | Photo by Steve Puppe | www.kualumni.orgVeterans Network secretary Randy Masten, g’03, a retired Army officer and assistant director of KU’s Office of Graduate Military Programs, nominated Corman for the Sporting KC honor, and was on hand to cheer both his beloved Sporting KC as well as a distinguished Jayhawk who has done so much in service to his alma mater, his home state and his country.

“Randy goes to all the games, and he told me afterward that when I was introduced as a veteran of the last battle of World War II, a guy sitting next to him said, ‘That guy must be lying about his age. He can’t be World War II. He must be Vietnam.’”

Corman chuckles as he shares the anecdote—which he usually does when telling his stories—but he also fights back a sudden well of emotion. For more than 40 years, Corman remained silent about his Okinawa experiences even with his family; now, though still blessed with a nimble step and youthful spirit, Corman knows that he is among the last survivors of his great and brave generation, and so he accepts salutes such as the one he received Sunday in memory of all of his combat comrades.

“They were really so nice,” Corman says of staff and fans at the Sporting KC match, as he regains his voice after a brief moment of reflection. “Everything about the day was nice. Really a wonderful honor.”

—Chris Lazzarino

Warren Corman was the subject of a cover feature in Kansas Alumni magazine, issue no. 5, 2011, as he closed the books on his long career. You can read the full article online. Photos by Steve Puppe.

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