When Brad Garlinghouse was promoted to senior vice president at Yahoo! in 2006, he was already known for his industry connections. Having previously served in management roles at SBC Communications, AOL and Hightail, a file-sharing service, Garlinghouse’s new position, which put him in charge of “Communications, Communities, and Front Doors,” seemed a perfect fit for the Topeka native.
More than a decade later, Garlinghouse, now CEO of San Francisco-based cryptocurrency and digital-payment processing firm Ripple, continues to foster critical connections. In 2017, he generously donated $250,000 to the Alumni Association to help launch the Jayhawk Career Network, a multifaceted program that links students and alumni and provides career resources for Jayhawks at every life stage.
“KU helped my career take flight, and there is no doubt that I still highly value and lean on my KU network,” says Garlinghouse, c’94, a Life member. “I think the Jayhawk Career Network can replicate and expand upon my fortunate experience for lots of current and future Jayhawks. I’m pleased to be able to lend a hand in its success.”
Thanks to Garlinghouse’s significant investment, the Association hired Kristi Durkin Laclé, c’99, to oversee the new initiative, and in 2018 launched KU Mentoring, an online, career-focused platform that connects students and alumni through long-term and one-time mentorships. The program also hosts networking events across the country and will introduce opportunities for job shadowing, internships and employment in the coming months.
Garlinghouse has a strong history of supporting student interests and development. This past spring, Ripple donated a whopping $29 million to fund every campaign on the education-crowdfunding platform DonorsChoose.org. It was the largest single donation since the site launched in 2000, and it fulfilled more than 35,000 school and classroom projects nationwide.
Joe Hannah’s introduction to KU came by way of a boyhood friend whose family parked a camper near Memorial Stadium before home football games. One weekend they took Joe along.
“We camped out the night before the game and played on the Hill and walked around campus,” recalls Hannah, c’79. “Coming from a small town, a big college football game and all the people on campus made a big impression on me. It was an experience that I wanted to have more of.”
Hannah grew up in Lyons, a central Kansas town of about 4,300. Making the move to KU, home to nearly 22,000 students when he arrived in fall 1975, was not so hard, thanks to his membership in Phi Gamma Delta. The “academic jump” to a campus where some classes were larger than his entire high school was a tougher transition.
“The academic challenge of being in organic chemistry with 500 students and not having a very good science background made me work like never before,” Hannah says. The fraternity’s strict study hours helped, too. “They kept us working, and for me it really worked to have that structure and it helped a lot to have those immediate friendships as well.”
Now an orthodontist with offices in Olathe, Emporia, Lenexa, Louisburg and Kansas City, the Life Member designated an estate gift to KU that will include scholarships for students who come from small, rural Kansas communities like the one he grew up in. The gift also will support Alumni Association programs.
He was inspired, in part, by childhood friends who hoped to attend KU but did not have the financial means to do so. He not only sees benefits for the students his gift will help attend KU, but also for University itself.
“It’s important for KU to have some rural kids in there, too, and they do,” says Hannah, who lives now in Johnson County. “You don’t want to go to college and know everybody there; you want kids from all over the state. I think it’s real beneficial for the kids who come from these big suburban areas to meet kids from smaller towns.”
His practice puts him in daily contact with high school students, and their post-graduation plans are a popular topic of conversation. “I’ve talked to many over the years who are maybe a little scared of going to a bigger university, and I tell them that once you get wherever you may live—be it a fraternity or a dorm—it’s not going to feel quite as large and it will be an outstanding education.”
Though he’s happy for them whatever their college decision may be, he enjoys sharing his KU pride when he can.
“If a patient wears purple, then they’re going to have a hard time from me,” Hannah says. “They know it, and they do it on purpose. We might make a bet or two every now and then to wear red-and-blue braces instead of purple-and-white, depending on who wins. We have a lot of fun with it.”
For more stories on Jayhawks like Hannah, and to learn more about the successes of the Alumni Association this year, read our annual report.
When she arrived at KU from Fort Worth, Texas, Chelsea Demars Young immediately joined the Marching Jayhawks—a natural fit for a clarinetist on a music scholarship. After switching majors from music therapy to architectural studies, she left the marching band but stayed with Wind Ensemble, spent two years as an residential adviser in Corbin Hall and, as a junior and senior, performed as Baby Jay.
“Campus life was an opportunity to try new things,” says Chelsea, a’05, who designs pedestrian and bike lanes, among other alternative transportation solutions, for a small engineering firm in Houston. “The exposure to new people, new activities and organizations was insane. That could be overwhelming for some people, but there wasn’t anyone saying, ‘You’re going to fail.’ It was more like, ‘Try it. If you like it, keep doing it.’”
Shrinking a large campus down to relatable size by staying active outside of class was a strategy both Young and her husband, Bryan, b’06, carried with them when in 2008 they moved to Houston. Shortly after arriving in the country’s fourth most-populous city, the Youngs made the effort to attend a Houston Network watch party, where they knew no one.
That wasn’t the case for long.
“There is a really cool group of alumni here, and it helped Houston feel like home immediately,” says Bryan, who sells oil and gas equipment for Siemens. “Our best friends that we’ve made down here, a lot of them, are KU people we did not know while we were at school. It really has made this large community very easy to navigate because you have these people who you identify with immediately, and you can build on that.”
Faithful annual Alumni Association members since their post-graduation complimentary memberships expired, the Youngs in 2012 became Life Joint members, and in 2017 took another step in their active and ongoing participation in the life of their alma mater and Alumni Association and joined the Presidents Club.
Even while raising daughters Madeline, 5, and Nora, 2, and funding ongoing repairs to their southwest Houston home, flooded in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, the Youngs say they are eager to find ways to do even more—and they encourage other 30-something couples to consider doing the same.
“When we come back to campus,” Bryan says, “we immediately feel connected, that we’re part of the University, more than just that, ‘Hey, we’re here on campus’ kind of thing. We can go back and be proud of our relationship with the Alumni Association and we can be proud of what we’ve been part of in Houston. That means something to us.
“I think it’s maybe hard to get some people excited about that, and I know that everybody has busy lives, but for us, the first step was simple: We care about the University, and we care about how it changed and shaped our lives.”
For more stories about Jayhawks like the Young family, and to learn more about the successes of the Alumni Association this year, read our annual report.
The largest higher education fundraising effort to date in the state, Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, raised $1.66 billion, far exceeding its $1.2 billion goal, according to KU Endowment. The campaign, which ended June 30, boosted student support, faculty, facilities and programs at the University of Kansas and The University of Kansas Hospital.
Among the campaign’s notable accomplishments were 735 new scholarships and fellowships, 53 new professorships and 16 new buildings or major renovations. Others included achieving National Cancer Institute designation and strengthening a wide range of pioneering academic and research programs.
Fundraising for the campaign began in July 2008, in the middle of the Great Recession, and it had a public kickoff in April 2012. More than 131,000 donors—49 percent of them new donors—from all 50 states and 59 countries made gifts.
“The success of Far Above is a testament to the confidence our alumni and friends have in KU,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “Every gift sent a message that our donors want to elevate KU to greater heights. Their generosity touched virtually every aspect of the university by funding new facilities, supporting future leaders and enabling our faculty to push the bounds of discovery.”