We’re recounting the most memorable moments and biggest KU stories of the past year. With help from our crack team of KU experts, a.k.a. your hard-working KU Alumni Association staff, we’ve assembled and ranked the top ten of 2016. Read on as we present the best of KU…
10. Basketball Rules
The new home of Naismith’s original rules of basketball hosted a housewarming party when the DeBruce Center held its official grand opening celebration on Saturday, July 23. Hundreds of loyal fans and alumni made the pilgrimage to Lawrence to pay tribute to the game’s inventor and tour the new building connected to Allen Fieldhouse.
9. Winning week
A big basketball win over Duke, a double-overtime Border War win for soccer, KU’s first Big 12 volleyball title and an upset football victory over Texas. It was more than just a great week to be a Jayhawk. From Sunday to Sunday, it was a week for the athletics ages.
8. Open for Business
In May, we took a sneak peek inside the School of Business’ new building, Capitol Federal Hall, where expansive, flexible design encourages collaborative learning and innovation is welcome. More details and images of the school’s new space can be found in the May issue of Kansas Alumni magazine.
7. KU Endowment announces results of Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas
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. The campaign, which ended June 30, boosted student support, faculty, facilities and programs at the University of Kansas and The University of Kansas Hospital.
6. Twelve straight Big 12 Conference titles
Highlights of the 2015-16 season included a gold medal at the World University Games in South Korea; the championship trophy at the 2015 Maui Invitational in November; a 12th-straight Big 12 Conference regular season; and the Big 12 Postseason Championship title. It truly was an amazing year.
5. KU student earns Rhodes Scholarship
University of Kansas senior Shegufta Huma is one of 32 American students to win a Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most prestigious recognitions of scholarly excellence. Shegufta Huma, from Bel Aire, is majoring in political science with a minor in Spanish, and she is particularly interested in working toward justice for Muslim immigrants. Huma is KU’s 27th Rhodes Scholar.
4. KU School of Business dean Neeli Bendapudi named Provost
“I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve my alma mater in a new capacity and look forward to working with people across campus to make it an even better place for our students, our faculty and our staff to learn and to work,” Bendapudi said. “This is a truly wonderful place that means so much to me and my family, and this opportunity is a dream come true for me.”
3. KU Sesquicentennial
In 2016, KU celebrated a 150-year tradition of educating leaders and serving the state of Kansas. The KU Alumni Association contributed to the momentous occasion with a number of commemorative activities, including a KU150-themed birthday celebration at the 2015 Jayhawk Roundup in Wichita, a special edition of our annual alumni calendar with historic images of KU and a reprise of our popular Jayhawks on Parade with three one-of-a-kind Jayhawks to celebrate KU.
2. Chancellor Gray-Little to step down in summer 2017
Bernadette Gray-Little, the 17th chancellor of the University of Kansas, has announced she will step down from the position in summer 2017. “It has been an honor to lead the University of Kansas,” said Chancellor Gray-Little. “KU has always been a special place with terrific people and an instinctive spirit to change our world for the better. Leading this remarkable institution is a privilege I always will cherish, and I’m grateful to the entire KU community for believing in our mission.”
…and the biggest KU story of 2016 (drumroll please)…
1. KU alumnus wins Nobel Peace Prize
President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at ending a civil war that has ravaged his country for more than 50 years. “This great honor only adds to the immense pride KU alumni around the world have felt for their fellow Jayhawk since President Santos devoted himself to the cause of peace in Colombia,” said KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson. “This Nobel Peace Prize also brings honor to the long-established mission of University of Kansas faculty, administrators, students, staff and alumni to make our heartland campus a welcome home to students from around the world. Our international missions, as educators and alumni advocates, will continue with an energized pace thanks to President Santos, whom we are proud to call one of our own.”
How did we do? Was your favorite KU moment mentioned or did we forget another unforgettable moment? Let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out more stories while you’re here. It’s been a great year worth celebrating, and we know our chant will rise in 2017!
“What a great day to be a Jayhawk!” coach David Beaty shouted, his raspy voice barely audible amid the chaos that swarmed across Memorial Stadium’s field after KU upset Texas, 24-21, in an overtime thriller that gave Beaty his first Big 12 victory and the Jayhawks’ first in the conference since 2014.
Beaty of course was spot-on with the sentiment, but the time element was off. While football’s first victory over Texas since 1938 scored the national headlines, it was more than a great day to be a Jayhawk: From Sunday to Sunday, it was a week for the athletics ages.
Soccer sets the tone
Soccer set the tone on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Rock Chalk Park, when junior Lois Heuchan scored 40 seconds into double overtime to give the Jayhawks a 1-0 victory over Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. (The Jayhawks’ second-round loss, 2-0 Nov. 18 at North Carolina, was only their third loss since mid-September.)
Men’s basketball was up next, as the Jayhawks avoided their first 0-2 start since 1972 by beating top-ranked Duke, 77-75, Tuesday in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Frank Mason’s game-winning field goal with 1.8 seconds remaining was one of KU’s most thrilling shots since Mario Chalmers nailed a three-pointer to send the 2008 national championship game into overtime.
“That was quite a play we called: ‘Just get out of his way,’” coach Bill Self said afterward. “He’s a stud.”
Recruit chooses Kansas
Billy Preston, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward from Los Angeles kept the buzz going Friday afternoon when he released a video announcing his college selection. Dressed in uniforms from his four finalists—KU, Indiana, USC and Syracuse—Preston played a magic-of-film one-on-one game against himself, at the end of which he turns to the camera and announces, “Rock Chalk, Jayhawks.”
Just a few hours later, Preston’s future team beat Siena, 86-65, running Self’s home record to 207-9 and passing Ted Owens on the list of all-time victories in Allen Field House.
“He’s a special coach and this is a special place,” sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr. said afterward. “You put those two things together and special things happen.”
Volleyball clinches championship
About 13 hours later, at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, volleyball began its final regular-season home match. Although they played without junior All-American Kelsie Payne, who injured an ankle in KU’s five-set victory Nov. 16 at West Virginia, the Jayhawks fought through another tough five-setter to defeat Iowa State and clinch at least a share of their first Big 12 championship.
“It could have been a disaster, or it could have been the best day ever, and they decided to make it the best day ever,” said coach Ray Bechard. “Our seniors weren’t going to let us lose.”
Swimmer hits career-best mark
Saturday’s action was not limited to Lawrence: freshman Jenny Nusbaum won the 200-yard freestyle at the Kansas Classic swim meet in Topeka’s Capitol Federal Natatorium with a career-best mark of 1 minute, 48.97 seconds, and she helped her team to a 7.34-second victory in the 800-yard freestyle relay.
Cross-country makes history
On a wintry morning in Terre Haute, Indiana, sophomore Sharon Lokedi ran fifth at the NCAA cross-country championships, the best NCAA finish in the history of KU women’s cross-country and the best by any Jayhawk since John Lawson won the men’s meet in 1965.
“When it’s cold and windy like it was today, you never know what might happen in a race like this,” Lokedi said. “So my plan was just to stay up at the front, stay with the leaders and be ready for anything.”
Football upsets Texas
On a chilly afternoon and evening in Memorial Stadium, the football ’Hawks offered the first hint of a possible upset by taking a 10-7 lead into halftime against Texas. But, KU came out flat in the third quarter, and when D’Onta Foreman scored his second touchdown of the second half with 13:34 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Longhorns a 21-10 lead.
The game looked hopelessly out of reach to fans and commentators, but players never saw it that way.
“They are some resilient tough dudes,” Beaty said. “They kept believing. They kept working.”
With 10 minutes remaining in regulation, redshirt freshman quarterback Carter Stanley jolted the KU offense to life with a 20-yard run, which was immediately followed by a 15-yard run by freshman running back Khalil Herbert that set the Jayhawks up at the Texas 45 yard line. Herbert scored seven plays later on a 1-yard run, and sophomore receiver Steven Sims Jr. converted a two-point conversion to push KU to within three, 21-18, with 7:48 remaining.
Freshman safety Mike Lee halted a Texas scoring threat on the ensuing drive when he forced Foreman to fumble at the KU 13-yard-line. Senior defensive end Cameron Rosser pounced on the loose ball, the Longhorns’ fifth turnover of the game. KU then gave the ball back on downs, but when Texas tried to close the game out by converting on fourth and 5 from the KU 32, sophomore linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. scored the biggest of his game-high 16 tackles by stopping Foreman 2 yards short.
The Jayhawks took over on their own 29 with 58 seconds remaining. Three receptions by senior running back Ke’aun Kinner and a 15-yard penalty against Texas set KU up at the Longhorns’ 19, where, with seven seconds left in regulation, senior Matthew Wyman tied the game with a 36-yard field goal.
On the second play of overtime Lee again stepped up big, intercepting a Texas pass. Needing only a field goal to win, KU pushed forward behind five Kinner rushes, allowing Wyman to win the game with a 25-yard field goal.
The season finale awaits Saturday at Kansas State, but that rivalry’s renewal was on nobody’s mind as the Jayhawks celebrated madly.
Well, almost nobody’s.
“We have a huge, huge mountain to climb to get ready to play those guys,” Beaty said. “But it’s going to be a lot easier and a lot more fun preparing tomorrow with the result we got today.”
Women’s basketball team closes week with a win
And still more was yet to come: Women’s basketball closed out the remarkable week that was with a 68-58 victory at Memphis, the Jayhawks’ first win of the season and the first regular-season road victory for second-year coach Brandon Schneider.
Sally Buzbee, j’88, has been named executive editor of The Associated Press effective Jan. 1, 2017. Buzbee is currently AP Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief. She began her career with AP as a reporter in Kansas in 1988. Read full article.
Former KU football player Kale Pick was named head coach of the Fort Scott Community College football team Wednesday night after serving as the team’s offensive coordinator this fall. Pick, c’13, graduated from Dodge City High School in 2008 and played at KU from 2008-2012. Read full article.
David Dillon, retired chairman and CEO of The Kroger Co. and a University of Kansas alumnus, will head the search committee for a new KU chancellor. Dillon was student body president at KU, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business in 1973. Read full article.
New York City alumni network board members Kellie Johnson, a’06, and Brandon Snook, f’05, are both featured in this article from the campus paper highlighting Cornerstone Tavern, where Jayhawks in the Big Apple gather to watch KU basketball and football. Read full article.
Jason P. Romero says his biggest accomplishment for the year had nothing to do with the law. It was a restoration of a ceramics studio he assisted with at the Mattie Rhodes Center, a non-profit for families where he sits on the board of directors. Romero, c’06, l’09, g’09, g’14, is an associate with Husch Blackwell in Kansas City. Read full article.
Lauren G. Hughes has joined the Wise & Reber law firm in McPherson as an associate in the firm’s Estate Planning and Transactional practice groups. Hughes, a Texas native, received her Bachelor of Arts in both English and American Studies from KU in 2013 and earned her Juris Doctorate from the KY School of Law in 2016. Read full article.
Curtis Summers, l’05, resigned as partner at Husch Blackwell LLP to become a shareholder at Littler Mendelson PC. Summers worked as a law clerk for Judge Kathryn Vratil in the U.S. District Court of Kansas and has spent the rest of his career at Husch Blackwell, where he became a partner in January 2014. Read full article.
Kathy Greenlee, b’85, l’88, has been hired as vice president of aging and health policy at the Center for Practical Bioethics. Greenlee is a former assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Read full article.
You may be wondering what this has to do with KU: one of the co-creators and executive producers on the show is 1988 alumnus Scott Thomas. He is beginning the process to revamp the show so many people loved. Read full article.
Larry Meyers, who earned a law degree from KU in 1973, spent 24 years on the highest criminal court in Texas. He switched political parties in 2013 and ran for re-election this year and was defeated. Read full article.
Have you seen a story featuring a Jayhawk? Send it our way so we can include it in a future post! Email us at email@example.com.
For one loyal alumna, a recent trip to Mount Oread turned into an unexpectedly delightful trip down memory lane. While attending the Presidents Club tailgate Oct. 22 at the Adams Alumni Center, just hours before the KU-OSU Homecoming football game, Barbara Schmidt Keating, d’63, and her husband, Con, c’63, were stunned to see a photo of Barbara, the University’s Homecoming queen in 1962, on display in a campus yearbook.
“They had a table set up with a display of previous Homecomings by decade,” Barbara explains. “We just walked past the table and there in the 1960s was the yearbook and my picture. We were both just shocked.”
The display was courtesy of KU Libraries, which partnered this year with the Alumni Association to showcase historical photos and memorabilia of campus life for alumni and friends to enjoy during Presidents Club tailgates.
Upon spotting the Keatings’ surprise—and overhearing Con exclaim, “Well, here she is, right here!”—KU Libraries staff snapped photos of the former Homecoming queen with the yearbook, capturing yet another campus keepsake for Jayhawks to enjoy.
“It was a huge honor, it really was,” Barbara says, recalling the moment she was crowned more than 50 years ago. “They made the announcement outside of Strong Hall; everybody was out there. It was such a surprise, because there were so many wonderful girls who were candidates. It was just really a nice occasion.”
Last fall, Presidents Club members enjoyed an extra treat at three football tailgates at the Adams Alumni Center: special exhibits about the sport’s history at KU presented by the University of Kansas Libraries.
At the Sept. 3 event, guests explored the history of KU football before the team defeated Rhode Island 55-6 in Memorial Stadium.
The following week the Jayhawks fell to Ohio 21-37, but tailgate attendees reminisced about the glory days while taking in the exhibit “60 Years of Bowl Game History.”
And during the annual Homecoming celebration, “Memories of Homecomings Past” became a delightful trip down memory lane for members—and for one former Homecoming queen, who spotted her photo on display.
Stay tuned during basketball season for “The Kansas Basketball Legacy featuring Phog Allen” exhibit, which will make an appearance at watch parties around the country. Thank you to our friends and partners at KU Libraries for enhancing our events with a little bit of history.
Click through the slideshows above to see photos from the tailgates. Photos may be downloaded for personal use. Visit our calendar to find upcoming exhibit dates at future events.
Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end a five-decade civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people — and said he received the award in the name of the Colombian people. Santos, b’73, earned degrees in business and economics from the University. Read full article.
Caleb Knueven, c’11, is writing and directing a new short film titled “Stadium” about the beginning of a breakup. On Aug. 19, the film received funding through Kickstarter and surpassed its goal of $6,000, with a final tally of $8,075. Read full article.
Jesse Hufft describes her position as co-founder and CEO of Hufft Projects as the job she never knew she always wanted. She and her husband, Matthew Hufft — a KU architecture graduate — started the architecture firm, which is based in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2005. He serves as the firm’s creative director. Read full article.
Diana Robertson, director of Student Housing at the University of Kansas, has announced her retirement effective June 27. In her 17 years at KU she has served as director for 11 years and associate director for residence life for six. Read full article.
A video from the Kansas City star narrated by KU alumnus and television journalist Bill Kurtis describes the DeBruce Center, built adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse to house the historic rules of basketball purchased by alumnus David Booth. Watch video.
Speaking of David Booth, the Wall Street Journal published an article about his company, Dimensional Fund Advisors, LP, the fastest-growing major mutual-fund company in the United States. The company was launched in 1981. Read full article.
Legendary KU football player David Jaynes, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife Barbara, was in town for a KU football reunion he organized for former KU coach Pepper Rodgers’ 85th birthday, which coincided with Saturday’s 24-23 loss to TCU. Jaynes placed fourth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1973. Read full article.
Have you seen a story featuring a Jayhawk? Send it our way so we can include it in a future post! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lou Pecci spent only two years at KU, but he has cherished that time ever since. “You go to school there, and it gets in your bones,” he says. “Your bones belong to KU.”
So when his family told him to pack his bag for the surprise trip of his dreams, Lou easily guessed the destination: “Are we going out to Kansas to see a game?”
Yes, after 36 long years, the diehard Jayhawk in Flanders, New Jersey, would finally return to the Hill. His family says he has talked of nothing but KU, worn Jayhawk regalia and collected KU tchotchkes for as long as they can remember.
“Obsessed is an understatement,” says his daughter, Teresa Pecci Sedore, who with her husband, Tom, planned the trip as a gift to her parents for hosting the young couple’s wedding in February.
When they arrived in Lawrence Oct. 7, the family’s first campus stop was the Adams Alumni Center, where the Alumni Association staff had offered long-distance advice to Teresa and her mother, Donna, as they planned the adventure.
Lou says he originally left New Jersey for KU because of “itchy feet. Go fever. Get in the car.” Now he rarely leaves home—“They had to me put on the plane with a crowbar,” Lou concedes with a laugh—making the family journey to Lawrence all that much more special. Though his beloved McCollum Hall no longer towers on Daisy Hill, Lou’s stories of antics with his 3-West buddies have stood the test of time.
Always an outlier when decked out in his KU gear back home and ceaselessly extolling the virtues of all things KU to family and friends, Lou finally won over the skeptics in his clan with two days of touring campus and enjoying the food and nightlife downtown. A thrilling football game against Texas Christian—a one-point loss that KU had a chance to win with a last-second field goal attempt—didn’t hurt, either.
“During the game,” Lou says, “my daughter turned to me and said, ‘Dad, now I totally get it. All your Kansas stories over the years. I totally understand.’ That says it all.”
Thankfully there won’t be any more long gaps between visits to Mount Oread: The Peccis and Sedores are already planning their return trip in 2017.
—Jennifer Jackson Sanner
The Wheel, the Hawk and Louise’s West were among the stops on Lou’s whirlwind tour.
Donna and Lou Pecci and their son, Billy; daughter, Teresa; and son-in-law, Tom Sedore, reveled in the KU-TCU game Oct. 7. Donna ordered custom T-shirts for the family for the trip.
L-R: Pepper Rodgers, Terry Donahue, Todd “Leaper” Williams, David Jaynes
Happy birthday, Pepper!
Former KU football coach Pepper Rodgers recently celebrated his 85th birthday at his old stomping grounds: Memorial Stadium.
A group of former football players and coaches reunited in Lawrence for the occasion. Kansas All-American David Jaynes organized a football reunion at the Adams Alumni Center to coincide with Rodgers’ birthday. Former KU assistant coaches Terry Donahue and Sandy Buda were also on hand to celebrate the popular KU coach known to most simply as Pepper.
Rodgers coached at KU from 1967-1970 and won the Big 8 title in 1968. He left after the 1970 season to coach UCLA.
Barbara Jaynes shared the photo above and below.
Back: Terry Donahue; Middle: David Jaynes, Dick O’Neil, Pepper Rodgers; Front: Barbara Jaynes
Fans gave the group a thunderous welcome when they were recognized on the field during the Jayhawks’ game against TCU. Alumni can read more about this gathering of legendary football Jayhawks in the Lawrence Journal-World.
Additional coverage from the Lawrence Journal-World
For Elsa Rhae, body painter and 2013 University graduate in film and media studies, her senior year involved one fateful decision: which elective to take in order to fulfill her degree. Rhae, c’13, was featured on the cover of issue No. 5, 2014, of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read full article
Andy Anderegg, g’10, is featured in this article as a liberal arts success story. After receiving a master’s degree in fine arts from KU, Anderegg landed a job as a writer at Groupon and quickly climbed her way up the ladder. Read full article
Kevin Harlan, a KU School of Journalism alumnus, was a trending topic on Twitter and in sports blogs after his memorable call during the Rams-49ers game Monday, Sept. 12. Read full article and watch video.
An interactive exhibit created by Allison Metzger and Catherine Reinhart will be shown at the Iowa State University Design on Main Gallery in Ames from Oct. 1 to 31. The exhibit was funded through an Indiegogo campaign. Read full article
Former Kansas basketball player and ex-NBA star Scot Pollard, d’97, has been teammates with many people, but now he has teamed up with filmmaker and University film professor Kevin Willmott for a feature film titled “The Profit,” which premieres at Liberty Hall Sept. 24. Read full article
The national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP named Phoenix partner Stephanie Quincy, l’91, as chair of the Phoenix office’s Labor & Employment Practice Group. Quincy was named to the 2014 list of “Top 25 Women” in Arizona by Southwest Super Lawyers. Read full article
Take a stroll down memory lane with Brian Hanni, the voice of the Kansas Jayhawks, as he catches up with former football player Micah Brown, c’09, as part of his Throwback Thursday podcast. Read transcript or listen to podcast
Becky Mandelbaum, c’13, has been named this year’s winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and her collection of short stories will be published by the University of Georgia Press. Mandelbaum’s Bad Kansas will be available from the UGA Press in fall 2017. Read full article
The Los Angeles Lakers and former Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, ’13, agreed to a one-year deal; Robinson joins a full roster that includes fellow Jayhawk Tarik Black, who, in July, signed a two-year, $13 million deal to stay in Los Angeles. Read full article
Former KU point guard Aaron Miles, c’05, is settling in as an assistant coach at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he’s working under former KU men’s basketball assistant coach Joe Dooley. Read full article
The Kansas football team (1-1) travels to Memphis this weekend for their first away game of the 2016 season. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. (CT) at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Get to know more about those other Tigers in this week’s edition of Know Your Foe, a weekly segment from KUAthletics.com and the Jayhawk Radio Network. Brian Hanni, the voice of the Jayhawks, catches up with the Tigers’ play-by-play voice Dave Woloshin.
Tailgate with us
If you’re traveling to the game or already in Memphis, tailgate with fellow Jayhawks! Danny Lewis, director of donor relations and athletic events, and Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs, are hosting a tailgate in Lot 13B, south of the stadium. They’ll have 20 spaces roped off for our fans to set up.
Beverages of the adult and kid-friendly variety will be available, but you’re welcome to bring your own cooler and tailgate chairs. Look for the KU flag! Fans can pay for parking on game day; parking costs $15. Purchase tickets to the game by calling Kansas Athletics at 800.34.HAWKS.
Can’t make it to the game? A few alumni networks around the country are hosting watch parties. If you’re in Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Washington, D.C., or Wichita, be sure to check out our list of official watch parties for tomorrow’s game and find a spot to watch with fellow ’Hawks.
Just for fun
And finally, some humor: Geoff Calkins, sports columnist for The Commercial Appeal, welcomes Jayhawks to Memphis with a column chock full of tips from friends and strangers. If you’re looking for things to do in Memphis this weekend—or just need a laugh on this Friday—check it out.