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.
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.
McNulty – 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.
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 email@example.com and let us know.
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
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
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 seen a story featuring a Jayhawk? Send it our way so we can include it in a future post! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
Remember Matt Gowen? We featured Gowen, j’95, on our blog back in February around Valentine’s Day. A writer and team lead for humorists at Hallmark Cards, it’s no wonder he tends to wax sentimental when thinking about KU. We all do. The difference is, writers put pen to paper, as he did in this contributed essay which captures the feeling we all once had prior to leaving the nest. Enjoy! –David Johnston
One morning in the spring of my senior year, I remember walking up the hill behind Fraser Hall with the sun coming up, not a bit of wind, not a cloud in the sky.
As I made my way past Watson Library toward Murphy Hall, I stopped at the top of the path near Stauffer-Flint, where I’d spent so much time that year cranking out the UDK with my fellow J-Schoolers.
Then I stopped and just stood there.
For several minutes.
This was before all humans had cell phones, so I couldn’t reach in my pocket and pretend to be staring at the screen, which is today’s default response when we have random moments of quiet. With nothing to distract me, I began to scan the horizon, drinking in the panorama of Mount Oread and taking long, slow, deep breaths, to the point where passersby possibly thought I was a stealth marketer for nasal spray.
Then I said to myself: “Remember this moment.”
Silly, I know. But I wanted to be deliberate about it because it felt iconic, that sense that you’ve fully, finally become your own person.
I’ve had other iconic moments in my life since then: getting that first job as a reporter, my wedding day, my kids being born, and being interviewed by the Alumni Association (!) because I’ve been writing valentines and other stuff for Hallmark for the past 15 years.
But there’s nothing quite like that sense of suddenly owning your life, that feeling that from now on it’s Me, Inc.
The future? Yep, there it is, right in front of you. It’s packed with promise and possibility and all the things people say at commencement.
But before you walk through the Campanile and down the hill, there’s a moment. A deliriously perfect limbo that you’ll never experience again.
You’ve rocked some classes, maybe scuffled through a few others, possibly had an internship or two. You’ve probably had a few beverages at (fill-in-the-blank favorite bar), thrown confetti inside Allen Fieldhouse, sat on the hill for a football game, bowled at the Union (sadly, no more), seen brilliant works at Spencer Museum, watched incredible Lied Center performances from Broadway musicals to Rock Chalk Revue.
In short, you’ve mastered the art of being a Jayhawk.
And that’s when it hits you: it’s time to take that mastery out into the world!
For me, it was that Tuesday morning in March more than 20 years ago. And in that moment, I could see the endless ways my life could unfold. I thought about the many decisions I could make, stretching out to infinity. But not yet! Because in that moment, all those choices were still my perfect little secrets. The world did not know anything about me yet. My story had not yet been written.
The path was right there in front of me.
All I had to do was take the next step.
But just for a second, as I gazed out at the bright blue sky, it seemed like I might be able to do more than that.
Because maybe, just maybe, being a Jayhawk teaches you how to fly.