Jayhawks rally to give alumnus an unforgettable Commencement

Posted on May 12, 2017 in Alumni News and News

One of the most treasured traditions at the University of Kansas takes place every spring, when thousands of graduating students walk through the Campanile and down the Hill for Commencement.

Brian Palermo | www.kualumni.orgBrian Palermo, a KU Admissions representative based in St. Louis, never got to experience that moment. Shortly after graduating in December 2012, he accepted a job at a mental health facility for children in Oklahoma City. Knowing it would be difficult to take time off in May for the ceremony, he let the opportunity slip by.

Earlier this year, Palermo, c’13, shared with his supervisor, Elisa Zahn Krapcha, c’05, j’05, g’11, that he never participated in Commencement. She mentioned that the Admissions team should stage a small ceremony for him.

“I kind of knew we might do a little something, but I didn’t expect too much,” Palermo says.

Krapcha and Heidi Simon, g’00, senior associate director of Admissions, had a surprise in store. On May 8, they summoned nearly 20 team members to the Campanile, where Palermo was given a traditional cap and gown, as well as party beads and a crimson and blue lei.

Brian Palermo and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little | www.kualumni.org“As I’m getting ready to walk through the Campanile, Heidi hands me a bottle of sparkling cider,” he recalls. “I got so focused on trying to open it, because people were shouting ‘Pop it, pop it!’ I was looking down at it and still walking when I heard someone say ‘Whoa, whoa! Hold on a moment.’”

When Palermo looked up, he saw Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little standing in front of him. “I was just floored,” he says. “I couldn’t believe she was there.”

The chancellor congratulated Palermo and delivered remarks, reminding him of KU’s noble mission: to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world.

“I challenged the graduates at the 2012 Commencement to continue to do all of these things after they walked down the Hill,” Gray-Little told him. “You’ve done these things even without being there to hear my call.”

As Palermo wraps up his first year as a KU Admissions representative, he’s more determined than ever to continue serving the University, thanks to the kindness and support of his team and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

“It was just a really special moment that I don’t think I’ll ever forget,” he says.

—Heather Biele

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Call for Honorary Degree nominations for 2018

Posted on Mar 10, 2017 in Alumni News and News

KU Commencement 2012 | via @kualumni.org

The Chancellor’s Committee on Honorary Degrees invites you to propose exceptional individuals of notable intellectual, scholarly, professional or creative achievement, or service to humanity, to be awarded an honorary degree from the University of Kansas. An honorary degree recognizes an individual’s extraordinary contributions to the sciences, arts or humanities or other contributions to humanity.

Proposers should provide a brief supporting statement describing the person’s career and achievements, indicating why these contributions are exceptionally meritorious and detailing their relevance to the university’s academic endeavors.

No announcement will be made concerning individuals nominated, and all nominations will be treated as confidential information. The committee will review all nominations and may request further information that demonstrates that the nominee’s achievements and/or service are of such exceptional character as to merit the award of an honorary degree.

Individuals who have been previously nominated must be re-nominated to be considered for the May 2018 awards.

The committee will select candidates for honorary degrees and forward their names and supporting materials to the Chancellor for consideration. The Chancellor will then nominate to the Board of Regents for approval candidates for honorary degrees to be awarded at the 2018 Commencement.

Click here to nominate or re-nominate an outstanding individual for an honorary degree.

Nominations should be submitted electronically by April 7, 2017.

Questions may be addressed to:
Committee on Honorary Degrees
Chancellor’s Office, 230 Strong Hall
University of Kansas
Phone: 785-864-4186

View the policy of the Board of Regents on Honorary Degrees.

Information about the nomination and selection of candidates for honorary degrees may be found at honorarydegrees.ku.edu.

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Nonprofit founder to receive 2017 honorary degree

Posted on Feb 17, 2017 in Alumni News and News

William McNulty in Haiti |  Photo courtesy of Team Rubicon

William McNulty, an Iraq War veteran and co-founder of Team Rubicon, will be awarded an honorary degree at KU’s 145th Commencement on May 14, 2017, in Memorial Stadium.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little recommended McNulty for an honorary degree to the Kansas Board of Regents. The board approved the chancellor’s recommendation during its meeting today, Jan. 18.

William McNultyMcNulty – himself a KU alumnus – created Team Rubicon to provide disaster relief and humanitarian aid to communities hit by natural disasters. The organization grew out of McNulty’s desire to continue serving his country when his enlistment in the United States Marine Corps ended. After organizing a team of veterans to help with disaster response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, McNulty recognized that military veterans’ unique skills offered a model for a disaster-response organization that would bridge the gap between the immediate aftermath of disasters and the arrival of large-scale relief efforts from governments and aid organizations.

“William McNulty has turned his experience in war-torn areas of the world into a global effort to aid similar communities, while at the same time easing the transition of military veterans to civilian life by offering a sense of community, identity and purpose,” Chancellor Gray-Little said. “His innovative and meaningful work is making our world a better place, and for that, he is an inspiration to the entire KU community. We look forward to awarding him his honorary degree in May 2017.”

Team Rubicon was featured on the cover of Kansas Alumni magazine, issue 2, 2016. Read the full article here.

McNulty will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for outstanding contributions to global humanitarian and relief efforts.

McNulty earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and his master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.

Read the full press release from the University of Kansas here.

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The walk down the Hill that wasn’t

Posted on Jun 16, 2016 in Alumni News and News

KU class of 1972 Commencement in Allen Field House  |  Photo by Hank Young, Kansas Alumni magazine
For most Jayhawks, the walk down the Hill is synonymous with Commencement. But for alumni of the class of 1972—and a handful of other classes throughout KU history—the much-anticipated walk wasn’t to be.

Barbara Schmidt, j’72, explains in an email she sent in response to the May member e-newsletter, which included a link to our annual Commencement video.

Thank you for including in your email newsletter a link to video of the “walk down the hill” of 2016 graduating students. It is always joyful to see that annual walk!

Each year when I see news of the latest KU commencement, I am reminded that my graduating class of 1972 was not allowed to “walk down the hill.” The threat of tornadoes that day caused the University to move our commencement ceremony to Allen Fieldhouse and imposed a subdued atmosphere on the event that probably made it unlike just about any other commencement in KU history. No tornadoes developed in the area, and I do not recall it as being anything other than a cloudy day in the end.

Still, commencement was not “complete” for the class of 1972. Walking down the hill that day was something I had dreamed of since a little child, and I know that most of my friends felt the same way.

I have often wondered if some day the Alumni Association might remember and help make amends for this omission by arranging for surviving graduates of the class of 1972 to process down the hill before the current graduating class (maybe wearing a special ’72 cap designed for the occasion). Perhaps for our 50th anniversary in 2022?

If planned and announced to 1972 alums at least a couple years in advance, I believe a large enough contingent of my classmates would participate to make this uniquely memorable not only for them but also for the class of 2022 and everyone else in attendance.

Thank you, Alumni Association, for all that you do.

Barbara L. Schmidt
Seattle, WA
Class of 1972 (Journalism)


A total of 4,257 students received degrees at the University’s 100th Commencement in 1972, making it the largest in history at the time. According to the June 1972 issue of Kansas Alumni magazine, the Monday evening ceremony for presentation of baccalaureate degrees in the eight undergraduate schools was held in Allen Field House, only the third time that commencement events had been forced inside because of weather.

So, members of the class of ’72, what do you think: would you return to the nest for a 50-year reunion and commemorative walk down the Hill? Email us at share@kualumni.org and let us know.

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Jayhawks in the News | May 20, 2016

Posted on May 20, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Commencement 2016

Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our weekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes. If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at share@kualumni.org.


Commencement time: Advice for graduates looking to love what they do | Johanna Maska via LinkedIn

Johanna Maska returned to the Hill last weekend to deliver a commencement address to graduating KU Honors Program students. Maska, c’04, j’04, recently wrote a post on LinkedIn offering her advice to graduates who want to love what they do. Her favorite piece of advice? “Get a life, a real life. Not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house.”
Read full article


With book, exhibit, Bethel professor brings hidden German artist to the world | Bethel College

Rachel Epp Buller, associate professor of visual art and design at Bethel College, has spent the past five years working to bring a German artist out of the shadows. Epp Buller, g’99, g’04, first discovered the work of Alice Lex while working on her doctorate in art history at the University of Kansas. She later received a Fulbright Fellowship that allowed her to spend five months in Berlin learning more about Lex and finding her work. Her work came to fruition in April with an exhibition in Berlin and publication of the exhibit catalog as a book.
Read full article

Nick Collison, “Mr. Thunder,” reflects on being Oklahoma City’s longtime backbone

Former KU basketball star Nick Collison has only relocated once in his 13-year NBA career: when the SuperSonics, who drafted him in 2003, relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008. Read more about his thoughts on his career—and see a few of his fun Instagram pics— in this Q&A.
Read full article

Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.

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Watch the walk down the Hill

Posted on May 19, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Congratulations to the Class of 2016! The KU Alumni Association welcomes the newest members of our worldwide Jayhawk network.


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Commencement roundup, social media style

Posted on May 16, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Congratulations, Jayhawks!

It’s hard to narrow down our favorite Commencement photos posted on social media networks, but we did our best. Check out our favorite posts below to experience this year’s walk down the Hill.

Congratulations to all those walking down the hill today! 🎈🎉 #kucommencement #graduation2016 #rockchalk #kugrads

A post shared by KU Endowment (@kuendowment) on

Yelling at each other but almost always on the same page. My people. My UDK Gals. WE DID IT ❤️📰 #famsan #kugrads

A post shared by Katie Kutsko (@katiekutsko) on

Marshals on deck… It's almost time! #kugrads

A post shared by Lauren Erickson (@laurenrerickson) on

Look at this flock of #KUgrads! Congrats, #CLASof2016!

A post shared by KU College (@kucollege) on

Here come the graduates! #KUgrads

A post shared by Kansas Jayhawks (@kuathletics) on


A post shared by a s h l e y h i g h t (@aashleyhightt) on

Rock Chalk! #kugrads

A post shared by Natasha Hervatta (@natashahervatta) on

I've got a lot of solid mems on this field, but this one is, by far, my favorite. 💙🎓❤️ #KUAlumni @universityofkansas @kualumni

A post shared by Kristen Hatchel (@khatch9) on

😍✊🏾 #BlackExcellence #KUGrads #RockChalk

A post shared by Evolving ✨ (@breonnakrishanna) on

Today, in a nutshell. Remembering my nest as a place of love, growth, and delicious blueberry muffins. Rock Chalk. ❤️💙 p.s.- I'm gonna go sleep for a month now.

A post shared by Shelbi Polasik (@shelboplastic) on

More photos to come later, but…I walked down the Hill today with my sisters by my side! #ΩΦΑ #akopa #KUGrads

A post shared by Alex Welch 🆒👍🏼 (@welshy6) on

It's been fun. #SKOHAWKS #kugrads (we technically got our degrees in December, I promise we know what year it is)

A post shared by Kaitlyn Butko (@kaitlynbutko) on

Only took six years. 🎓#kugrads

A post shared by Becca Clark (@snecca_snark) on

Literally, the end of the line. "Towering toward the blue" #kugrads

A post shared by Jill Hummels (@jhummels) on

Thankful for the time and memories, the friends made along the way, and for the honor of being able to say that I am a Jayhawk. #KUgrads #exploreku

A post shared by Will Mason (@willfrankmason) on

Waited 4 years to walk through the campanile and down that hill. So worth it. #livinforthestory #kugrads #kucatholic #lovethesepeople

A post shared by Jordan Schmitz (@jschmitz_35) on

To everyone I worked with at one of the best student publications in America: thank you for being rad. All of us are going on different paths after KU, but they're all trending upward. All of you deserve it. Thank you for finally giving me a sense of purpose. 📸: @alejandro.de.robin #kugrads

A post shared by James Hoyt (@jamesjhoyt) on

So proud of all my #KUgrads for doing the thing this weekend. My heart is so happy seeing all of your accomplishments be recognized and for you guys to be done with college (potentially) forever. CONGRATS GUYS. I knew you could do it! Cheers! 🍻🍾👏🏼 #graduation #KU #alumni #classof2016 🎓🎉

A post shared by Maddie Ballou (@ballomad) on

Graduation round 2 is a wrap ✌ Thanks for the memories 😢 Officially taking #KUalumni status 🎓 #KUgrads #Classof2016

A post shared by .:Sookie✌ (@littlesooks) on

Congrats to all the #KUgrads today! Made me feel nostalgic and miss this beautiful campus filled with wonderful people. #RockChalk #Jayhawk #HailToOldKU

A post shared by Chris Cordero (@wine_and_burritos) on

My #DNP crew! We are missing Linda and Lynette. .. #Nurseleader #nursesmatter #forwardthinking #RN #kugrads2016 #KUgrads @KUMedCenter #doctorate #drsonyabrowncurtis #instanursing #nursesrock

A post shared by Nurse Evette (@nurseevette1) on

💏 #kugrads

A post shared by McKayla Murphy (@mckaylacmurphy) on

Congratulations, Class of 2016! #KUGrads 💙❤

A post shared by KU Memorial Union (@kuunion) on

Whoot!!! Whoot!!! #kugrads

A post shared by Wendy Nelson (@snl1ab) on

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Celebration on the Hill

Posted on May 16, 2016 in Alumni News and News

It was a beautiful day on the Hill as graduates walked through the Campanile for the first time and headed for Memorial Stadium, snapping photos with friends and family along the way. Several of our staff members took photos throughout the day. Watch our slideshow below, or click here to view the photos on Flickr. All photos are available to be downloaded for personal use.

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

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Board chair encourages graduates to embrace alumni network

Posted on May 15, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Rick Putnam, KU Alumni Association national board chair
Rick Putnam, chair of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors, addressed graduates at the 2016 Commencement ceremony. Putnam, c’77, l’80, lives in Omaha, Nebraska. Read his remarks below, and click here to see photos from Commencement. 

Good morning and congratulations. It is a great day and one you will remember the rest of your lives. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you for just a few minutes. I specifically want to acknowledge those on stage with me and, in particular, the Chancellor.  I have had the pleasure to meet with her over the past year on very important issues and want to thank her, on behalf of all KU alumni, for a job well done.

Think back, now, to the last event you attended where they put a stamp on your hand or maybe a bracelet on your wrist (perhaps on your way into the Hawk or the Wheel). It provided you admission to something big, something you were looking forward to. Today you receive a permanent stamp, one that will never wash away – admission to the outside world and for the rest of your lives a graduate of the University of Kansas. You are admitted, thus, to a very prestigious group. You have unlimited access to a powerful Jayhawk network of the best and brightest, and as an insider, an unending opportunity to build upon the relationships you established while here—and create new relationships with your fellow KU alumni.

So, you have the ticket, you have the stamp. We’ll make it even better. Each member of the class of 2016 will receive a gift—a one-year membership in the KU Alumni Association, provided with the help of KU Endowment. Your membership begins this weekend and includes a new KU Alumni Association app, which we hope you will download to receive all of your benefits.

Alumni Association membership will provide you an immediate and ongoing link to KU. You can accept it and do nothing and stand outside the arena; I suggest the better course is to walk in, embrace it and enjoy. Good luck and Rock Chalk.

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