Less than a week after Homecoming on the Hill, KU men’s basketball welcomed back one of its most recent stars. In preparation for Friday’s NBA preseason game at Sprint Center, Joel Embiid and his Philadelphia 76ers teammates traveled from Kansas City to Lawrence to hold practice at Allen Field House.
“We looked at it, and we were that close playing in Kansas City we thought it would be appropriate to visit this historic place,” coach Brett Brown said. “The historic perspective of this building, along with Joel’s history here, made it a no-brainer we should drive 45 minutes down the road and experience the building and practice here.”
The Sixers’ practice in Allen Field House gave their lone Jayhawk a rare in-season opportunity to visit the campus he dearly adores.
“I was supposed to take the bus with the team, but I wanted to walk around,” Embiid said. “I wanted to do that just to feel like I stayed for three more years, and I’m definitely going to come back to finish school.”
A secret revealed
The chance to relive his college days led Embiid, ’17, to share a secret about how much time he could have spent on the Hill: “I don’t think anybody knows this story. I actually decided to stay because I love this place so much, but I was kind of pushed to leave. Any time I get the chance to come back I’m going to do that. Stepping on this court, this is where it all started for me, so I’m really thankful.”
The Sixers selected Embiid third overall in the 2014 NBA draft, but the athletic 7-footer has been limited to 31 regular-season NBA games due to foot and back injuries, setbacks that almost led him to quit the game during his second year as a pro. The lack of game experience has not slowed Embiid’s development, due in large part to his capacity as a visual learner.
“It’s a rare skill,” coach Brown says. “He’ll see Dirk Nowitzki do something or Kevin Durant or Tim Duncan back in the day, and the next day it’s in his game and he’s trying it. His spirit is great. We need it to be great.”
This year, expectations for the Sixers include a potential playoff spot, which with a healthy Embiid would not be surprising. As he looks to lead his team to long overdue success, Embiid also knows what he left behind just three years ago.
“I miss the culture,” he says. “You know, the fans were amazing over here. We have some Duke teammates who think they got the best arena, but I always tell them, ‘You never been here.’ Sixteen thousand people cheering, you can’t even hear.”
The Sixers and Heat will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, in Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
When designing the 2006 expansion of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center south of Hutchinson, architects left a mound of dirt with a cement platform in the courtyard between the campus cafeteria and auditorium. The embankment would become the ideal location to honor the men and women sworn to protect and serve.
The knoll sat dormant until 2015, when Bob Senecal and his wife, Evelyn, visited the campus and told Director Ed Pavey of their desire to commission a monument for KLETC, which since 1968 has provided vital basic training for all law enforcement officers in Kansas. The KLETC is a division of KU Professional & Continuing Education, which Bob Senecal led for 21 years as dean during his KU career of more than 30 years.
The Senecals collaborated with Austin Weishel, a nationally recognized sculptor from Loveland, Colorado, and the KLETC staff to create a vision for “The Protector,” a bronze sculpture unveiled July 27 at a celebration that included Chancellor Douglas Girod and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, j’90, SJD’16.
“The work that our law enforcement provide across the state and region is absolutely critical in today’s society and certainly very challenging,” Girod said. “The preparation they get through this center is so important. Ultimately, it’s about a sworn duty to protect, which is why I think the name of this statue is so fitting.”
“While the training and the science of law enforcement is so critical, … it really is the art of law enforcement that makes a good cop,” Schmidt said, “so I think it’s really important that we’re here today celebrating the addition of a central piece of art to the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.”
While the new statue is sure to catch the eye of those working and training at the KLETC, the campus also welcomes visitors. To schedule a tour between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, contact Lisa Webster, assistant to the director, at email@example.com.
Left to right: Chancellor Girod; David Cook, vice chancellor of the KU Edwards Campus; Ed Pavey, KLETC director; Evelyn and Bob Senecal; Attorney General Derek Schmidt; and Sharon Graham, assistant vice chancellor of KU Professional & Continuing Education
KU Memorial Unions and Student Union Activities opened the doors Sept. 3 for the Jay, a new, 4,200-square foot event space in the former Jaybowl site.
Jessie Pringle, student body president; Lauren Arney, KU Memorial Unions Corporation board president; and Kassandra Valles, Student Union Activities president, performed the ribbon-cutting as David Mucci, KU Memorial Unions director, welcomed students, faculty and staff into the renovated space.
“I think you’re going to like what you see,” Mucci said, “and there will be more to come.”
Among the ceremony participants were U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, c’99, l’02, past president of the KU Memorial Unions board, and Dan Sabatini, a’86, whose architecture firm, Sabatini Architects, designed the renovation.
“We maintained some of the Jaybowl’s original character,” Sabatini says. “The ceilings still have the black lights, and those special projectors for cosmic bowling are still here.”
Fans of the old Jaybowl, which closed its doors May 9, will also find memorabilia and photographs of the 62-year-old campus fixture displayed in cases outside the entrance of the new Jay.
Clear blue skies, bountiful sunshine and nearly record-setting temperatures in the low 70s set the stage for a successful move-in day Aug. 20 as thousands of students and their families and friends descended on Mount Oread.
On Daisy Hill, KU Housing staff were on hand to guide the procession of cars from the Lied Center to the residence halls, where several teams of volunteers helped unload carloads of belongings and deliver them to each student’s assigned suite.
“The process is very, very organized,” says Kim Rupe, of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, whose son, Kaleb, is moving into the brand-new Oswald Hall. “It takes some of the anxiety away. It’s really nice.”
Move-in day kicks off the start of ’Hawk Week, a series of events designed to welcome students to the Hill and prepare them for a successful semester. On Saturday, the Student Alumni Association will host ’Hawkfest, right before Traditions Night.
While Alumni Association staff busily prepared for Friday’s 8 a.m. pregame rally on the second floor of the convention center in Omaha’s CenturyLink Center, the KU men’s basketball team met with the media and went through a public shoot-around practice in advance of Friday’s 11:15 a.m. NCAA Tournament opener against New Mexico State.
The second-seeded Jayhawks (26-8) say the memories of last year’s opening weekend exit after suffering an upset by Stanford remains fresh in their minds.
“Last year went by way too fast,” said sophomore guard Wayne Selden Jr. “Just like that we were done. This year we’re trying to take a different approach, focusing in on the little details.”
Coach Bill Self said junior forward Perry Ellis, the team’s leading scorer, “looks a lot better than last week.” Ellis sustained a knee injury in the second-to-last game of the regular season, March 3 against West Virginia, and missed two games before returning for the Big 12 Tournament’s semifinal and championship games.
“He’s been terrific,” Self said of Ellis’ performance in practice this week. “He hasn’t winced once, and hasn’t had to come out. … I think he’s going to play great.”
The Aggies of New Mexico State (26-8), a No. 15 seed, have won 13 straight games, including an 80-61 victory over Seattle University in the WAC championship game. The tournament title followed a regular-season conference championship for the Aggies, who are known for a tough zone defense with varied looks.
Self said he expected the experienced Aggies, with three seniors in the starting lineup, to enter Friday’s game with “an unbelievable sense of urgency.”
As for his own team, Self said that unlike last season, when the Jayhawks “were a team in flux” entering the NCAA Tournament, he and his club are eliminating distractions. Despite inconsistencies across the season and even within games, Self has high hopes for his team’s performance.
“My expectation,” Self said, “is that we are going to play our best ball.”
Watch our slideshow below to see a few pictures from Thursday’s open practice. Photos by Dan Storey and Chris Lazzarino.
When Tegan Thornberry joined the staff at the KU Alumni Association, we knew we had managed to lure a valued team member away from our friends over at Kansas Athletics. Tegan, d’05, g’10, who coordinates the Flying Jayhawks travel program and Future Jayhawks membership program for the Association, is not only great at her job and just plain awesome—she also bakes. Our confectionery gain was Athletics’ loss, until we needed a meeting with Coach Self. Getting time on Coach’s calendar is tough enough, and even harder during a tight conference race.
That is, unless you come with a plate of Tegan’s baked goodness: “Coach Self will see you now.”
In all seriousness, Tegan’s arranged reunion was also an opportunity for Coach Self to help out his buddy Kevin Corbett after offering to help sing the Association’s praises. True to his word, Coach has supported the Association—Bill and Cindy Self are Joint Life Members—by attending events like the Rock Chalk Ball, Jayhawk Roundup and Salina Steak Out through the years. His office frequently contributes auction items in support of alumni programs and scholarships. So he was all too happy to go on-camera with staff videographer Dan Storey to share why he’s a Proud Member. The cookies probably didn’t hurt either.
Coach started his day with us, and he couldn’t have been more hospitable, proudly sharing some of the treasured items around his office, including those pictured below.
The Big 12 Digital Network also went behind the scenes with Coach Self for a tour of his office, which alumni can watch below. We’re thrilled to count Bill and Cindy Self among the thousands of alumni who are proud members of the KU Alumni Association.
Television producer David Casey, ’01, discusses his love for the Jayhawks and how he produced a TV show 3,000 miles from the Hill: “Ice Cold Gold,” an adventure series set in Greenland that airs on the Animal Planet network.
The KU Memorial Unions and Student Union Activities hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 29 to mark the grand opening of the Jayhawk Collection, which has a permanent home—thanks to the generosity of local donors James and Mary Ellen Ascher—in the Union’s level two corridor.
The 1,000-plus piece collection, which is displayed in floor-to-ceiling glass cases designed by Sabatini Architects and constructed by B.A. Green Construction, boasts almost any piece of KU memorabilia imaginable, including Jayhawk figurines in every shape and size, apparel, lamps, pens and even antique popcorn tins.
Kenneth “Bud” Jennings, ’57, who started the collection when he was 12, happily spoke to the crowd about the origins of his impressive assortment of KU memorabilia. “My neighbor, who worked at KU, gave me my first Jayhawk toy,” he recalled. From there, the collection only grew as Jennings went to garage sales and auctions over the years.
The collection had been on display in the Union for four years through an agreement with Jennings before he finally decided to auction it off. That was when James, ’51, and Mary Ellen, assoc., stepped in to make a donation to keep the collection where it belonged—on the KU campus.
Mike Reid, director of public affairs, acknowledged the Aschers’ generosity during the ceremony’s opening statements. “Thanks to the Aschers for stepping forward and keeping the Jayhawk spirit alive,” he said. “And thanks for letting us continue to share this collection with all of the Jayhawk nation.”
The Aschers also attended the ceremony and were on hand to help cut the ribbon. “I think it’s beautiful,” James said. “I’m amazed at what they’ve accomplished. The people who put this together are really the ones who get the credit.”
After the ceremony, participants walked the hallway, admiring the collection, which now also contains pieces donated by others in the KU community, and sharing their own stories about pieces they had acquired over the years. Curtis Marsh, j’92, director of KU Info, recognized a hat he had contributed to the collection and was excited to see it displayed with the other historical items. “No one’s going to believe me that it’s my contribution,” he joked.
The Jayhawk Collection is available for viewing at no charge during the Union’s normal operating hours. Be sure to stop by on your next visit to campus.
Watch the slideshow below to see photos from the event and of the Jayhawk Collection. Photos by Dan Storey.
The Jayhawk Boulevard facelift has changed more than just the pavement—the KU Info booth has been rebuilt to better serve students who walk the iconic thoroughfare.
Recent construction opened the door to creating a contemporary version of the classic structure. The original booth was a gift from the Class of 1950. The new and improved booth is larger and complies with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. “The old booth was perfectly comfortable for one person, but if there was more than one person, you’d better really like that other person,” says Curtis Marsh, KU Info director.
The new space represents KU Info’s commitment to remain a ready resource for students. “This service is here with whatever students need help with. You don’t get judged for the questions you ask,” says Marsh, j’92. “We’re the experts on the KU stuff, but if you want to know how to wash your clothes or cook ramen, we want to help students with any issues they have. We want alumni to call, too, because we love the fact that alumni think of us as a tradition.”
Marsh made sure to honor tradition in the ceremonial opening of the new booth by inviting Warren Corman, e’50, longtime University architect, to clip the ribbon.
KU Info receives an average of 300 inquiries a day. For help, visit kuinfo.ku.edu or call 785-864-3506.
The central-campus streetscape remains cleaved from stem to stern, yet University Architect Jim Modig assures the KU Alumni Association that Phase II of the four-summer reconstruction of Jayhawk Boulevard is still on target for completion by the Aug. 25 start of fall classes. Modig, a’73, says that while this summer’s work is approximately a week behind schedule, plans also included a “buffer” to account for weather delays.
“The project will be done for the fall semester,” Modig says.
Completion of “landscaping and less critical items” will continue into early fall.
This summer’s boulevard enhancement extends from Poplar Lane, between Strong and Snow halls, to the four-way intersection where Sunflower Road crosses Jayhawk Boulevard. Because the intersection at the heart of campus is impassable—even pedestrians and bicyclists are routed on wide detours behind Bailey Hall to the north of the four-way stop and between Watson Library and Stauffer-Flint Hall to the south—the entire boulevard between the Chi Omega fountain and 14th Street traffic booths has been closed to vehicle traffic since Commencement.
Next summer’s work will extend the improvements to Lilac Lane, adjacent to Danforth Chapel, and the project will be completed in summer 2016 with upgrades north to 13th Street—and possibly a bit beyond, depending on the remaining financial resources.
On its surface, the $11 million project is a sorely needed boulevard beautification—with an entirely new street surface, overdue landscape replacement, enhanced lighting, and improved crosswalks and other pedestrian safety features. Below ground, storm sewer and utility upgrades will help manage stormwater runoff, with new underground collection pools designed to filter the overflow water and feed it back toward the thirsty roots of new trees and other plantings.
Staff photographer Dan Storey took photos of the progress on the boulevard this week. Watch the slideshow below or click here to see the pictures on Flickr.