Ten days, eight Mediterranean ports of call, 60+ Jayhawks and the most beautiful weather. Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? It was.
Read on to learn a little more about each day of this itinerary from Jayhawk hosts Danielle Hoover and Debbi Johanning.
Day 1: Florence and Pisa
After our long travel day from Kansas to Rome, we boarded Oceania Cruises’ m.s. Nautica at the port of call, Civitavecchia. Our first port was Livorno, and I boarded a bus that took us to Florence and Pisa. The drive to Florence was a highlight in itself, with views of sweeping hills and vineyards of the Italian countryside. Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and I took a walking tour through the Historic Centre of Florence, which was named a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1982. We saw some of their most iconic sites, including The Duomo cathedral, the Gelleria degli Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio that spans the Arno River. The history and the architecture in this city was beyond gorgeous!
After a delicious lunch of pizza and wine, we took our bus to Pisa and I could not resist taking the iconic tourist picture: holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Day 2: Portofino/Genoa
Our next port was scheduled to be Portofino, a tender port, but with the possibility of some high tide issues, the captain decided to play it safe and we docked in Genoa instead. Our group excursion this day took me to the beautiful Italian coastline town of Camogli. This was probably my favorite moment of the entire trip. After touring Florence and Pisa for 11 hours the day before, arriving in this quaint fishing village was exactly what I needed. I felt like I was in a postcard! The views of the colorful cliffside houses along the Mediterranean sea was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
As I walked along the seaside promenade, school-aged boys were playing soccer, locals were sunbathing along the water and everyone was just enjoying the beautiful day. I joined some of our Flying Jayhawk guests at one of the local outdoor cafes and we enjoyed a glass of Italian wine. It was the Bella Vita!
Day 3: Èze, Nice, Monaco, and Monte Carlo
This was one of my favorite days because the scenery of the French coast was so beautiful and we were able to see so much of it. We started our day in Èze, France, which was first populated around 2000 BC. Perched on top of the cliff, it became known as the “eagles nest” because of the vast views across the coastline and the sea. The history behind this place was magnificent; the winding cobblestone streets and the views were breathtaking.
We then took a scenic drive to Nice and stopped for a picture with the view of the Bay of Angels. The local street market was in full swing, which made for wonderful people watching and shopping. Lunch with some our Jayhawk guests along the beach of the Bay of Angels was a highlight of the day!
We toured the cathedral of Monaco, the burial place of the royalty of Monaco, including Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. The famous couple was also married in the cathedral. A trip to Monaco wouldn’t be complete with seeing the world famous Formula One Grand Prix and the Monte Carlo Casino. And, we may have returned later that night to try our luck…
Day 4: Toulon/Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence is a beautiful city. It was a leisurely day and we enjoyed the city as the locals would. After a walking tour we saw the Cathedral Saint – Sauveur d’ Aix-en-Provence and the city center. Many locals were out shopping at the local market, which had so many fresh fruits and vegetables and beautiful flowers.
Another highlight of this day was our Jayhawk reception on board the ship. The Jayhawk guests were able to socialize and get to know one another better. This reception included the other university alumni associations on the ship, and our loyal fans started the “Rock Chalk” chant to show off school spirit. We were very proud!
Day 5: Barcelona
Barcelona is a large, beautiful and historical city. Some highlights were La Sagrada Familia (the Church of the Sacred Family), the cathedral begun by Gaudi that has been under construction for more than 100 years. It will not be completed until around 2030. I also loved Las Ramblas, a street in the center of the city that is full of locals and tourists. Endless amounts of tapas bars, restaurants, shopping and the large city market can be found here.
Day 6: Valencia
Our tour of Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, was a combination of new and old. We started the day in the Old City with a walking tour of the vast Central Market; Lonja, the old silk exchange building; and the Cathedral, which is home to the “Holy Grail”. We also visited the most modern part of the city, the City of Arts and Science, to admire the largest cultural-educational complex in Europe.
Day 7: Mahón
We docked on the tiny Spanish island of Menorca for the day. I ventured to the ancient capital city of Ciutadella, which is perched on the western end of the island. We walked around the picturesque town with a guide to see some of the churches and palaces. Afterward, we had plenty of time to shop and explore the town on our own before heading back to Mahón, the current capital.
Our Jayhawk travelers gathered for a group photo and enjoyed dinner together that evening.
Day 8: Cruising the Mediterranean Sea
Today we flew the KU flag proudly on the upper deck of the Nautica! We had time to relax (and re-pack!) on the ship and enjoy the food, pool deck and other activities like bingo, shuffleboard and mini-golf. It was a perfect day to catch up with our fellow passengers! Or nap, if that’s your preference.
Day 9: Naples/Pompeii
The final day of the cruise included options to explore Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, or Capri. The excavated ruins of Pompeii are amazing to see in person. The city was buried in ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. It truly is a glimpse into a city frozen in time: plaster casts of victims were visible, along with other artifacts of life in ancient times.
If you’re looking for a way to experience as much of the Mediterranean coastline as possible, I highly recommend the Coastal Vignettes cruise. There are so many choices to make for daily excursions—you’ll want to do it all! It truly is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen.
We were truly fortunate to travel with so many fantastic Jayhawks! And, fortunately, we experienced incredible weather the entire trip. In fact, we couldn’t have ordered better weather if we tried: mid 70s, no humidity, no wind, nothing but completely comfortable sunshine and beautiful blue skies.
The Flying Jayhawks trip “Coastal Vignettes” took place Oct. 16-27, 2018. The trip was hosted by Tegan Thornberry, director of membership, marketing and business development; Danielle Hoover, director of donor relations and Wichita programs; and Debbi Johanning, director of digital media. View more photos from the trip; pictures may be downloaded for personal use. Find more information about Flying Jayhawks trips, including a schedule, or sign up for travel emails.
Nearly 500 KU alumni and friends gathered April 13 at Murfin Stables for the Alumni Association’s Jayhawk Roundup, the Wichita Network’s largest fundraising event, which was presented this year in partnership with Kansas Athletics and Williams Education Fund. The event, typically held in the fall, moved to spring this year for the first time in its 15-year history.
The theme for the festivities was “Game of Hawks,” a playful spin on the popular fantasy epic “Game of Thrones.” Bleached-white trees with crimson leaves lined the stables and centerpieces of swords and shields adorned each table, echoes of medieval times.
The event featured silent and live auctions, with top dollars going for a trip to the 2018 Champions Classic in Indianapolis, and the KU Libraries exhibit “Commemorate the Gr8s,” which celebrates the 1988 and 2008 men’s basketball national championship teams. Guests were also treated a feast of food and drink and live music from the band Annie Up, as well as a live carving of a Jayhawk from Kansaw Carvings artist Dan Besco.
Alumni Association President Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, thanked event chairs and stable owners Dave, e’75, b’75, and Janet Lusk Murfin, d’75, for hosting the Roundup and honored longtime Wichita volunteer and 2017 Wintermote Award winner Camille Nyberg, c’96, g’98, along with Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award winners Jerry, p’69, and Lucy Burtnett, who hosted the event in 2011 and 2012.
Chancellor Doug Girod detailed the University’s recent accomplishments in Wichita, which included the debate team’s victorious run to the national championship title and the Jayhawks’ first- and second-round wins in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which brought thousands of alumni and fans to the area in March.
Several members of Kansas Athletics also attended the Roundup, including head football coach David Beaty, men’s basketball assistant coach Kurtis Townsend and Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, who was celebrating his birthday.
“We had more guests in attendance than we have had in years,” says Danielle Lafferty Hoover, c’07, director of donor relations and Wichita programs. “The fans love having University partners and KU guests in the stables—it’s like bringing a part of Lawrence to Wichita.”
Check out more pictures from Jayhawk Roundup! Photos may be downloaded for personal use. Photos from the Lamphouse Photo Booth Company can be viewed here.
Fourteen sophomore students at Wichita North High School made valuable KU connections Sept. 20, when they were introduced to alumni who will serve as their mentors for next three years.
The group is part of the University’s new initiative, a product of the Office of Admission’s existing Helpful Alumni Working for KU (HAWK) program, to help underrepresented and minority students make a smooth transition from high school to college. The program was launched this spring in Wichita.
Participating students and their parents attended the induction ceremony, which was held at KU’s School of Medicine in Wichita and included appearances by Keon Stowers, c’15, a former KU football player who works for the Office of Admissions; Nate Thomas, KU’s vice provost for diversity and equity; and Baby Jay, who was on hand to take pictures with the students and their mentors.
Kim Madsen Beeler, c’93, j’93, g’99, who coordinates the HAWK program and has worked with alumni for years recruiting prospective students to KU, oversees the new Mentor Leadership Development program. She teamed up with Danielle Hoover, c’07, the Alumni Association’s assistant director of Wichita programs, to enlist area Jayhawks as mentors.
“These alumni are so passionate about KU, and they have told us for years they want to help,” Beeler says. “They want to make a difference and recruit great students.”
Students must have a GPA of at least 2.5 and complete an application and essay to be considered for the program. Those who are accepted are assigned mentors, who will coordinate opportunities for the students to shadow working professionals in various fields, participate in volunteer activities in the community and develop skills to be successful in the workforce, including learning how to fill out job applications, dress appropriately for interviews and create a résumé. In addition, the students will visit KU and participate in sports events, campus tours and discussion panels with current University students.
Hoover presented the opportunity to alumni on the Wichita Network board and was overwhelmed by their enthusiastic response. Five board members, Jim Spencer, c’82; Andy Ek, b’05, g’11; Monique Garcia Pope, c’96; Anna Ritchie, c’05, j’05, and Bob Nugent, c’77, l’80, signed up to be mentors, and other board members offered to host events for the students or help with their community service projects.
“One of the biggest initiatives on our board is to give back to the community,” says Hoover. “That’s a big passion for all of our board members. And it’s right in line with this initiative.”
Beeler hopes to expand the program at Wichita North High School next year and eventually include other schools in the area.
“This year we have 14 mentees, next year we’ll have another class, and we’ll just keep building,” she says. “The goal is to help students transition from high school to college and, hopefully, to KU. But also we want to engage our alumni, because they’re so important in recruitment. If we can get the alumni engaged and to help with recruiting, it’s a win-win for both of us.”
Wichita Jayhawks spent time yesterday not only building relationships with each other, but building a house for Habitat for Humanity.
“It was a fun, productive day with a great KU team,” said Margaret Lafferty, a member of the Presidents Club, adding “I had a good work out with that hammer!”
Jayhawks who volunteered their time and talents include Wichita Network board members Chris Howell, Byron Watkins, Anna Ritchie, and Jim Spencer; Danielle Hoover, assistant director of Wichita programs for the KU Alumni Association; and Mike Parmley of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita.
What happens when you combine 18 cases of red, white, blue, and yellow gift bows, a couple of glue guns and a fabulous group of volunteers? You get a giant display of Jayhawk spirit. Quite literally!
In early August, the decorations committee for the Jayhawk Roundup, led by decorations chair Chris Jeter, gathered at Murfin Stables to work on an oversized “bow mural.” The project will grace the corner of the arena and provide a photo background for the annual event, held on October 2, 2015, in Wichita. This year’s theme is “Happy Birthday KU,” celebrating the 150th birthday of the University of Kansas.
Members of the committee helping that day were Chris and Lori Jeter, Jim Burgess, Jerry and Lucy Burtnett, Bob and Kay Blinn, Camille Nyberg, Margaret Lafferty, Danielle Hoover, and Susan Younger.
The mural was fairly easy to create, so we wanted to share it with you so you can make your own. This technique would be perfect for a high school spirit wall, a grade school art project, or for anywhere you want to make a really big visual impact.
To start off, you will need to create your image on a grid, and if you are familiar with cross stitch embroidery, the idea is basically the same. For the Jayhawk head, the graphic was placed underneath a grid and then filled in with colored dots to bring up the pattern. The more detailed the image you wish to create, the larger the mural should be. (Each dot coordinates with the color of the bow, and gray is used here to represent white). Our mural ended up measuring approximately 6 1/2 feet tall by 11 feet wide. With a grid like this, it’s easy to determine the bow position, and the number of bows needed. The black lines running every six columns represents each mural panel, as explained in Step 2.
For our base paper, we used a brown kraft paper, and the color really helped our white bows pop. Our kraft roll is 24″ wide, so we divided the grid into the appropriate number of columns. (See black lines on the grid, indicating each column). Measure six 3-1/2 inch squares starting from the left edge, and leave the remaining 3″ to the right, so you can glue the panels together to make the complete mural. If your paper is thin, reinforce the back with packing tape. The kraft paper is surprisingly strong, but reinforcing helps strengthen the paper.
We left room for a sleeve at both the top and the bottom, and will thread a PVC pole through the sleeves to stiffen the mural and make it easier to hang. (We also left 12 inches at the top and bottom as blank space above and below the bows).
Draw out the entire grid on your paper, and then label it so you can follow the grid, such as “row 1, column 1,” “row 1, column 2,” and so on. To cut down on confusion and make the process easy for a group, use paint markers to indicate the color in each square.
Package bows work really well for this project. They’re fun and the texture adds to the effect, and in this case, the bows fit our birthday theme. We used 4″ confetti bows from Papermart, which have a variety of strong colors and great case prices.
Use a glue gun with a hot glue setting. It’s important to use hot glue, because it helps grip the fibers of the paper better. (Avoid using cold glue guns). Draw an “X” of glue in the square, and affix your bow. You don’t need to remove the paper covering the sticky pad on the back of the bow. In fact, that sticker is too weak to use, so just glue right over it. You want to make sure that you draw a large enough “X” so that the glue grips parts of the bow, and not just in the center over the sticker. Lightly smash the bow down as you glue it to make sure it grips the hot glue well. (Don’t worry, the bow will pop right back up).
Once all your panels are finished, lay them flat together to make sure your design looks right. The left side of each panel should line up with the blank space on the right side of your panel. Glue the panels together with tacky glue. When the glue is dry, reinforce the panels on the back with packing tape. If you are going to store the mural for a bit, don’t glue the panels together until you are ready to hang it, and keep the panels flat while storing them. This will help prevent warping, and cover them with plastic tarps to keep the moisture out.
And that’s all there is to it! If you would like to make your own mural of the Jayhawk, feel free to borrow our grid diagram. We’d love to see examples of your own creations, so be sure to post them on the Association’s Facebook page.
A favorite pastime for KU Alumni Association staff members is the annual Kansas Wheat Festival held in Wellington. We’ve participated in the cow chip tossing contest for a decade thanks to the generous support of John T., b’58, and Linda Stewart, ’60, and alumni hosts David Carr, c’73, and Colette Kocour, c’73.
Two teams tossed patties this year, and the Rock Chalk Ringers, led by Emily Ellison, Danielle Hoover and Colette Kocour, finished in second place. The other team, the Rock Chalk Chuckers, headed up by Tyler Rockers, finished dead last.
According to Heath Peterson, vice president for alumni programs, Tyler convinced the team to go for the toilet rather than the points on the grid, which was a bad idea. “Tyler whiffed out of the gate, which set the tone for everyone else. If they awarded points for both style and bad strategy, we would have won hands down,” Heath said. David Carr and Don Short were also on the team.
After the contest, the teams celebrated their success (and failure) over dinner with several local Presidents Club members.
The group was back in action on Friday night, pulling the Rock Chalk trailer down Washington Street in the Wheat Festival Parade. Baby Jay worked the crowd like a star, and the staff and volunteers tossed T-shirts to the crowd. Many thanks to the Stewarts for once again purchasing the T-shirts.
“This was my first Wheat Festival, and I had a great time!” said Danielle Hoover, assistant director of Wichita programs. “Everyone was friendly and excited that we were there with KU gear during the parade.”
We’ve developed many KU friendships over the years in Wellington, which is a top notch small Kansas town. Each year, the Kansas Wheat Festival is a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in the community for two days and spread Jayhawk spirit.
Stormy weather didn’t stop Wichita Network Jayhawks from proudly representing KU in a college and career night for AVID students, held earlier this month at Marshall Middle School in Wichita. Danielle Hoover, c’07, assistant director of Wichita programs for the Association, and Wichita Network volunteers Monique Pope, c’96, Geron Bird, c’97, l’01, and Janet Murfin, d’75, were on hand for the event, which helped young people learn about opportunities available to them after high school.
Marshall Middle School, a diversely populated school in the heart of Wichita, is one of more than 50 schools in Kansas that implement the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to prepare students, especially those traditionally underrepresented in higher education, for success in high school, college and beyond.
“The students were very eager and willing to get information,” Hoover says. “They asked a lot of questions about what KU is like and what kind of programs we offer.”
Although tornado sirens in the area temporarily interrupted the event, the turnout was great and the event was a huge success, Hoover says. Most of the students attending were seventh- and eighth-graders from the middle school, although a few students from neighboring Wichita North High School also participated.
“These students look at college as a way of changing their lives,” Hoover says. “At some college fairs you hear students say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to college. That’s just what you do.’ It’s a standard. But with these students, they might be the first person in their family to go to school.”
Although the Wichita Jayhawks were earnest in their message to students about attending KU, the event wasn’t without its share of fun and games. When Hoover and the other school representatives stepped away from their tables to introduce themselves to parents and students, the Wichita Network volunteers jumped at the chance to have some fun with the Kansas State University representative.
“When we came back in, Janet, Geron and Monique had decorated his table with Jayhawks,” Hoover says. “He was a good sport about it, though.”