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.
Classes began at our beloved university on Sept. 12, 1866.
According to KU History, tuition for college classes at that time was $30 per year.
Some of our staff members shared their birthday wishes for KU:
Happy birthday KU! Not everyone can claim that they get better looking every year, but you just grow more magnificent, especially with the recent Jayhawk Boulevard improvements! Rock Chalk, and let the campanile bells sing. —Susan Younger, creative director
Wishing you the happiest of birthdays KU! Thank you for providing me with unique experiences I will cherish for a lifetime. You have truly molded me into who I am today. —Emily Ellison, alumni programs coordinator
Happy Birthday KU! May the worldwide network of Jayhawks continue to grow, one of the many reasons being a Jayhawk is so special. Cheers to the Jayhawk family. Rock Chalk! —Heath Peterson, vice president for alumni programs
Happy Birthday KU, because of you I have learned what it truly means to #beajayhawk. Here’s to many more years of inspiring students to make discoveries that change the world. —Leah Kohlman, communications coordinator
My birthday wish for KU would be for every future Jayhawk to have the same great experience that I had as a KU student. Rock Chalk! – David Johnston, vice president for marketing and Internet services
We have a pretty great team here at the KU Alumni Association! While many of our staff members travel around the world hosting events and meeting Jayhawks, many others work behind the scenes. In this new series on our blog, learn a little more about the people who make your Alumni Association a positive force for KU—and a fun place to work.
Emily Ellison, c’11, joined the Alumni Association in 2013 after spending a post-graduation year in her native Portland, Oregon. The former Baby Jay missed Lawrence and the University of Kansas and found a perfect fit as coordinator of alumni programs. She helps wrangle event details and registrations, supervises our interns and and helps keep our staff organized as they travel—all while sharing her endless KU spirit and cheerful personality.
What’s your favorite spot on the KU campus? My favorite spot on campus is the Campanile. I love the tradition it represents, and it is a very peaceful place to sit and let your mind wander, with the exception of graduation and football game days, of course.
If you could have dinner with two people, living or not, who would they be? Billy Crystal and Steve Martin, because I love nothing more then a good laugh.
Put your iPod on shuffle. What are the first five songs?
“The Payback,” by James Brown, “Let the Groove Get In,” by Justin Timberlake; “Cowboy Boots,” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis; “Is This Love,” by Bob Marley and The Wailers; “B.O.B,” by Outkast.
Cats or dogs? Dogs! I have a chocolate lab named Phoebe, named after the character on “Friends.” There is nothing better than coming home to a dog who thinks your arrival is the highlight of their entire day.
What’s the last book you read? I don’t have the best attention span for recreational reading, but the last book I read was Are you there, Vodka? It’s me Chelsea, by Chelsea Handler
Tell us about something in your office: a favorite photo, trinket or other object or memento. My favorite object in my office is a photo album my friend Paige made for me when we graduated. It has a collection of pictures from our days as Baby Jay.
What’s your favorite color? Green.
Favorite KU celebrity?
Big Jay & Baby Jay, of course!
Do you have any hidden talents or unique hobbies?
Though I haven’t been able to do this much since I graduated from college, I have been riding horses for most of my life.
Last weekend, KU Alumni Association staff members Jacey Krehbiel and Emily Ellison, alumni programs coordinators, traveled west to Garden City for Beef Empire Days, an area-wide celebration of the beef industry in southwest Kansas that includes a rodeo, parade and other events. The trip was part of our annual ‘Hawk Days of Summer effort to connect with as many Jayhawks as possible.
The Great Plains Chapter was represented in Saturday’s parade, and Baby Jay made an appearance also. After the parade, KU alumni and friends were invited to take photos with Baby Jay at Stevens Park.
A favorite quote from the trip: “Now that’s ground beef,” by the announcer at the rodeo about a 2000-pound bull lying on the ground. Hey, we don’t have many opportunities to watch rodeos in Lawrence.
Click here to see photos from the trip, or watch the slideshow below. You’re welcome to download photos for personal use. Thanks to all the Jayhawks in western Kansas who joined us, we appreciate your support!
Today marks Heath Peterson’s twelfth year of service at the KU Alumni Association, and we’d like to celebrate with a walk down memory lane.
Heath currently serves as our assistant vice president for alumni programs, a position he’s held for the past three years. But you may not know that Heath actually started working here while he was still a student at KU. He began his illustrious career at the Adams Alumni Center as a facilities associate–affectionately known around the office as “blue shirts” because of the blue staff shirts the student employees wear– and was promoted to director of the building in 2004.
In 2005, Heath became the director of Kansas programs and was promoted to assistant vice president in 2009. He has truly risen through the ranks at the KU Alumni Association!
Michelle Lang, b’01, assistant director of Kansas programs, says “sitting outside Heath’s office for the past five years has given me plenty of stories to share, but one that most exemplifies Heath is his love of Pledge.” She adds that he has a compulsive habit of cleaning his desk with Pledge every day before he goes home, so when she hears the spray of the cleaner, she knows he’s about to leave.
Coworker Emily Ellison, c’12, alumni programs coordinator of operations, has only been here for a few months, but she learned quickly that Heath is the ultimate prankster. “I was told to always check my phone before picking up a call just in case salsa or something else was waiting to attack my ear,” she says. If you start a prank war with Heath, you just might end up with your name plastered on flyers all over town promoting a made-up company. Yes, it’s happened.
Congratulations, Heath, on twelve years with the KU Alumni Association!