The 2018 recipient of the Fred Ellsworth Medallion for extraordinary service to the University of Kansas is Bernadette Gray-Little, the University’s 17th chancellor, who retired in 2017 after eight years of leadership. The KU Alumni Association will honor her Sept. 14 during the fall meeting of the Association’s national board of directors. Since 1975, the medallions have recognized KU volunteers who have continued the tradition of service established by Ellsworth, a 1922 KU graduate who was the Association’s chief executive for 39 years, retiring in 1963.
During her tenure as chancellor, Gray-Little led the record-breaking $1.6 billion Far Above fundraising campaign and led the successful proposal and implementation of new admissions standards and the launch of a new undergraduate curriculum, KU Core, both aimed to increase student retention and graduation rates. From 2012 through 2016, KU’s freshman class experienced growth for five straight years.
Gray-Little oversaw the physical transformation of the University in 50 capital improvement projects totaling $700 million in Lawrence as well as on the Edwards Campus in Overland Park and KU Medical Center campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina. Most notable is the Central District in Lawrence. Other highlights include the expansion of the schools of Engineering and Medicine, including the construction of the new Health Education Building at KU Medical Center; a new home for the School of Business; new residence halls; and the restoration of Jayhawk Boulevard.
KU also made historic strides in research, achieving National Institutes of Health designations for the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, the KU Cancer Center and Frontiers, the KU Clinical and Translational Science Institute. KU is one of only 26 U.S. universities to house three NIH-designated research centers. The research enterprise also expanded with the recruitment of 12 Foundation Distinguished Professors, a key component of the Bold Aspirations strategic plan to enhance research initiatives on campus.
“We are pleased to recognize Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little with the Fred Ellsworth Medallion,” said Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association. “One of the most visible and important parts of her legacy at KU was making a commitment early in her tenure to establishing a strategic enrollment management plan. The plan was anchored by a data-driven, highly customized approach to recruitment and supported by a new and very robust four-year renewable scholarship model. The results from this transformation over the previous eight years speak for themselves. Of course, there are many other significant milestones, but enrollment growth stands out for me because it is incredibly important to the health of the entire institution.”
Robert E. Hemenway, who served as KU’s 16th chancellor from 1995 to 2009, died Friday at the age of 73. KU posted a statement from Chancellor Gray-Little to its Facebook page on Saturday.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chancellor Hemenway,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “Chancellor Hemenway was a visionary leader who guided the University of Kansas to unprecedented heights and successes during his time here. Under his leadership, the university made tremendous strides in how we educate students, conduct research, and serve the people of Kansas. I know I can speak for the entire KU community in saying we owe him a debt of gratitude, for the work he did paved the way for so much of the great work we’re doing today. Most importantly, Bob was a wonderful man who loved his job, loved the people around him, and loved this place — and he was loved in return. On behalf of the entire university, I extend my condolences to Chancellor Hemenway’s family and friends.”
The KU Alumni Association honored Hemenway in 2012 with the Fred Ellsworth Medallion, its highest honor. A tribute video from that event is embedded below and available on YouTube.
According to the Lawrence Journal-World, a memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9 at the Dole Institute of Politics. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Robert E. Hemenway Scholarship fund at KU. Gifts may be sent in care of KU Endowment, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, 66044.
He was director of photography for National Geographic magazine, worked for many years as a freelance photographer for Sports Illustrated—a relationship launched with his iconic image of Wilt Chamberlain, ’59, then a young KU sensation, tying his shoes while seated in a folding chair—and spent many years as photo editor at both the Topeka Capital-Journal and Lawrence Journal-World. Few professionals can offer better perspective on technological changes revolutionizing visual communications than Rich Clarkson, j’55, and, while he admires the work that came before, Clarkson does not yearn for a return to the past.
“I view this as the best days of all of the photojournalism I’ve been involved with,” Clarkson says from his Denver photography, publishing and project management firm, Clarkson Creative. “This is the golden era, right now.”
Clarkson, a 2011 Fred Ellsworth Medallion honoree, has long maintained close ties with the University, including as a Presidents Club and life member of the Alumni Association, longtime trustee of the William Allen White Foundation and an Endowment Association life trustee. In 2011 he donated $200,000 to create the Rich Clarkson Multimedia Gallery in Stauffer-Flint Hall, and in 2014 he gave a $100,000 endowment to support Alumni Association communications, including Kansas Alumni magazine.
“It’s the greatest outreach that the University can possibly have,” Clarkson says, “and you all do it so well.”
He encourages others to follow his lead in nurturing their University legacies, in part by affiliation with the Alumni Association.
“It’s an extension of the University experience,” Clarkson says, “and a beautifully orchestrated extension at that.”
Clarkson in 2015 will photograph his 60th-consecutive men’s NCAA Final Four. It would be a bonus for him to again watch his beloved Jayhawks from his courtside perch, but regardless of KU’s tournament fortunes, he’s certain to savor an experience that never grows old.
“One never knows for sure who is going to win. It could be the best team on one really interesting night in a regional that then marches forward to the national championship. It’s the surprise, the unpredictability, and at the same time the excellence of play and the intrigue of all of the fans.”
This profile was originally published in the KU Alumni Association’s 2013-14 Annual Report, a supplement to Kansas Alumni magazine. Click here to view the full report and learn more about membership and alumni records, Presidents Club, the Association’s year-end financial report and highlights from the year.
The 2013 recipients of the Fred Ellsworth Medallion for extraordinary service to the University of Kansas are P.J. “Jim” Adam, Tucson, Ariz., and Robert Malott, Wilmette, Ill.
The KU Alumni Association will honor them Friday, Sept. 20, during the fall meeting of the national Board of Directors. Since 1975, the medallions have recognized KU volunteers who have continued the tradition of service established by Ellsworth, the Association’s longest-serving chief executive.
Adam graduated from the KU School of Engineering in 1956. He retired in 2005 after a 43-year career with Black & Veatch Corp., headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. He led the firm as chairman and CEO from 1994 to 1998 and remained chairman emeritus until his retirement. He served for four years on the Alumni Association’s national board of directors, leading the organization as chair from 1998 to ’99. He also served on the Adams Alumni Center Board of Governors from 1993 to 2002. He and his wife, Barbara Mills Adam, led the Rock Chalk Ball in Kansas City as 1999 honorary chairs and participated in numerous KU events in Kansas City through the years.
For KU Endowment, Adam is a life trustee; he and Barbara are Chancellors Club members. He has assisted the past three capital campaigns for KU, serving currently on the engineering campaign committee for Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas. He helped guide the School of Engineering as a member of its advisory board and was named a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus in 1995, followed by recognition as a Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumnus in 2002. He also served on the KU Edwards Campus Advisory Board. For Kansas Athletics, the Adams are members of the Williams Education Fund.
For his service to humanity and the Kansas City community, Adam received the Distinguished Service Citation from Alumni Association and KU in 2005.
Malott graduated from the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in 1948. He retired in 1997 following a long career with FMC Corp. in Chicago, where he began working in 1952 after completing his graduate degree at the Harvard Business School. He was elected FMC’s president and CEO in 1972. One year later he became chairman of the board. He retired as chairman and CEO in 1991 but continued to serve as chair of the corporation’s executive committee until his retirement.
For the Alumni Association, Malott served on the board of directors from 1963 to ’69. For his service to humanity and the nation, he received the 1974 Distinguished Service Citation from the Alumni Association and KU.
As a KU Endowment life trustee and Chancellors Club member, he has participated in capital campaigns since the 1960s as a volunteer and donor. His gifts have included the Malott Gateway entrance to the Lawrence main campus and a portrait of his father, Chancellor Deane Malott, that hangs in the lobby of the KU Visitor Center. Malott also honored his mother by establishing the Eleanor Malott Memorial Garden and commissioning a portrait of her that hangs in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union. He has supported the University Women’s Club, which meets regularly in the Malott Room.
Since the creation of the Ellsworth medallion in 1975, 149 KU alumni and friends have received the award. Click here to see a list of previous recipients.