Thanks to more than 550 alumni and friends and numerous University partners who participated in the first eight Hawks & Highways events in June. The ongoing series supports Chancellor Doug Girod’s priority to strengthen KU’s statewide outreach.
The KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics are coordinating Hawks & Highways, which thus far has featured the chancellor, football coach David Beaty, men’s basketball coach Bill Self and leaders from KU Admissions, the Office of Public Affairs, KU Libraries, KU Edwards Campus, KU Endowment, and the schools of Law, Medicine and Social Welfare.
After visiting eight communities this summer, Hawks & Highways will resume the first week of October, with four events in Great Bend, Liberal, Dodge City and Winfield. Other upcoming events include 14 regional Kansas Honor Scholars receptions from September through November.
We’re grateful to the Alumni Association members and donors and the Williams Education Fund donors whose support is critical to Hawks & Highways. Together we will continue to bring the best of KU to communities throughout Kansas.
The Hawks and Highways tour stopped in Hutchinson for a Jayhawk tradition unlike any other. The ninth annual KU Alumni Invitational took place June 25 at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
The annual event brought members of the Presidents Club together to enjoy a round of golf with KU special guests. Chancellor Doug Girod, Bill Self, head men’s basketball coach, and Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association, all attended.
The foursome of Zach Dyer, Will Moore, Cameron Wilste and Kyle Tucker won the championship flight.
“The alumni invitational at Prairie Dunes is a fantastic event,” said Moore, l’06. “Having the opportunity to play one of the best golf courses in the world with fellow Jayhawks is an unbelievable opportunity. The event is well organized and always a great time. I look forward to playing every year.”
“First, it’s a great venue, a first class golf course,” said John Miles. “My group and I played last year and knew we had to come back. The Alumni Association and the Williams Fund do a great job setting up the event and making everyone who participates feel important.”
Kent Deutsch, Kent Richardson, Tommy Castor, and Chris Ugolini made up the first flight leaders.
The event was presented by Tickets for Less, a partner of the KU Alumni Association. Campus partners includingKansas Athletics the Williams Education Fund, KU Admissions, the School of Social Welfare, and the KU Medical School also attended.
Hawks & Highways is a multi-year effort coordinated by the KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. Tour events feature appearances by KU coaches as well as university administrators and other special guests.
Your opinions are vital to the KU Alumni Association
By now, you should have received your personal email invitation to complete the 2018 KU Alumni Survey. If you are among the thousands of Jayhawks who have already shared their feedback, thank you! Your opinions are vital to the KU Alumni Association as we develop programs and communications that strengthen KU and connect Jayhawks for life.
We last asked for your feedback five years ago. Your responses guided us to create the Jayhawk Career Network and the KU Alumni Association app. We’re doing more than ever before to build relationships that enhance KU pride and traditions, and we need your help to ensure that our programs remain relevant to you.
I invite you to take our comprehensive survey by clicking your personalized link in the email. You can also visit kualumni.org/2018survey to learn more. The survey should take about 20 minutes to complete, and you will receive a 25 percent discount from the KU Bookstores, in stores and online. You’ll also be entered to win an Amazon Gift Card worth up to $500.
So, please tell us what you think! And thank you for everything you do to continue KU’s living legacy of excellence to inspire future Jayhawks.
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.
Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association, presented a check to KU’s Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund at halftime of the Jan. 27 KU men’s basketball game. The check represented a portion of membership dues during KU Cares Month of Service in November. The announcement read at halftime is below. Thank you to everyone who participated in KU Cares Month of Service.
“The KU Alumni Association is proud to share the results of its first KU Cares Month of Service, a new campaign encouraging Jayhawks to give back to their communities. Last November, more than 130 volunteers from 16 alumni networks nationwide donated their time and treasure to help those in need.
In addition, the Association donated $5,500 in membership dues in November to the Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to military service members, veterans, primary caregivers and surviving spouses or children who want to attend KU.
Please join us in welcoming Alumni Association President Heath Peterson as he presents a check to KU alumnus and retired Marine Corps colonel Mike Denning, director of KU’s office of graduate military studies and president of the KU Veterans Alumni Network. With Mike is Maria Santiago, a pre-engineering student who served as a Marine in 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, and her daughter, Ashley. Maria deployed to Iraq in 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom when Ashley was only 9 months old. Maria is one of eight KU students to receive a Wounded Warrior Scholarship for the 2017-’18 academic year.”
Your support and dedication are helping us gain momentum in several vital areas as we work to build a more relevant, effective Alumni Association that increases the value of the KU degree.
I believe our long-term success depends on our ability to prepare current students to become the next generation of Jayhawk alumni leaders. Our investments in the Student Alumni Network, in partnership with KU Endowment, more than doubled student membership last fall. With more than 3,000 members, we are well on our way to building the country’s biggest student network—a large, captive audience!
More important, we are in the early stages of providing students meaningful ways to tap into the powerful Jayhawk network around the globe, with technology that connects them to mentors, internships and discussions with industry leaders. We are building a stronger network for all students who are willing to invest time in these opportunities, and we are teaching them about the many way sin which alumni volunteer leadership and philanthropy helped create this world-class university.
Our goal is simple. When students walk down the Hill at Commencement and official join the alumni network, we want them to feel the Alumni Association added real value to their lives through alumni and career connections. We also want them to deeply appreciate and understand their responsibility as Jayhawks to ensure that KU remains a premier university. Our message to them: Join the Alumni Association, be a mentor, hire a Jayhawk, volunteer, give back and help strengthen your alma mater.
Cheers to 2018, and Rock Chalk!
—Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, president of the KU Alumni Association
This message also appeared in issue no. 1, 2018, of Kansas Alumni magazine, a bi-monthly publication mailed to members of the KU Alumni Association. Members can also log in to read the full version online. For more information about membership, visit www.kualumni.org/join.
Kansas City-area alumni and current KU students gathered Oct. 18 at the WeWork shared-office space in downtown Kansas City for a networking event and panel discussion with three of the city’s top entrepreneurs.
The panelists included Chase McAnulty, assoc., founder and CEO of vintage T-shirt company Charlie Hustle; Paul Francis, a’80, founder and CEO of OYO Fitness; and Hillary Philgreen, g’97, chief operating officer of Hantover Inc. and ARY Brands Inc and founder and creator of StinkBOSS. The discussion was moderated by Tyler Enders, b’11, owner of Made in KC and partner in five other retail concepts in the Kansas City area.
“These sorts of panel discussions and industry connections are a big focus for the Alumni Association right now,” Peterson said, explaining that the Association plans to launch a new career initiative, the Jayhawk Career Network, in 2018. “Programs like this in major metro markets across the country are part of that plan.”
What worked and what didn’t
Throughout the evening, the panelists answered a series of questions from Enders, as well as from several participants in the crowd, about their processes for product development and marketing, including how they secured funding, who they enlisted for help, how their prototypes were built and, ultimately, what worked for them and what didn’t.
Philgreen, a mother of two teenage boys who inspired the creation of StinkBOSS, a machine designed to dry, sanitize and deodorize shoes and athletic gear, relied on her extensive business background and made connections with other industry professionals, which proved invaluable to launching her product. She reminded participants that Kansas City offers a wealth of resources and networking opportunities for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
“You need help, there are people in this city that will help you,” she said. “You just need the concept and you just need to step forward and try.”
“Reverse engineer” what’s already been done
Francis and McAnulty used the popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to help fund their concepts, and they stressed the importance of having a captivating, informative video for product campaigns. Both entrepreneurs recruited local business-savvy professionals to help create their videos.
“You don’t have to do anything new,” said Francis, who patented SpiraFlex, the exercise technology that powered strength-training equipment for NASA, and also developed the Bowflex Revolution. He watched several other campaign videos before creating one for his latest product, the DoubleFlex portable gym. “You just have to reverse engineer what’s already been done, then just improve upon it.”
McAnulty, whose passion for vintage tees and textile design inspired him to launch Charlie Hustle in 2012, reminded participants that the most important lesson in starting a new business or launching a new product is to keep trying. His brand’s most popular tee and signature piece, the KC Heart design, wasn’t even on the initial roster of T-shirts when Charlie Hustle first launched.
“You learn from everything,” he said. “You learn from your mistakes, you learn from your little successes. Try to expand and grow on those. We failed on a lot of different products. Just keep going, do it.”
Watch our video below to hear from the panelists. Pictures from the event are available on our Flickr page and may be downloaded for personal use.
This week, Association President Heath Peterson shared plans to modernize the Kansas Honors Program (KHP) in a letter to longtime alumni volunteers. Since 1971, the KHP has recognized 135,000 Kansas Honor Scholars from all Kansas counties.
In February, the KU Alumni Association’s national Board of Directors convened a task force to conduct a comprehensive review of the program in the context of two important trends: attendance at the 36 annual KHP events has declined among students and families, and significant funding cuts to higher education have made it more difficult for the University of Kansas and the Alumni Association to fund the program.
In a survey of former Kansas Honor Scholars, volunteers and school administrators, the task force found that the dictionary award traditionally given to all Kansas Honor Scholars had become less meaningful to students in the digital era and that investing in scholarships would be more valuable.
Peterson said the new KHP format, beginning with the 2017-18 school year, will provide flexibility for scholars, their families and local high schools while reducing program expenses.
“Most important,” he noted, “the cost savings will enable the Association and the University to create more scholarship opportunities for Kansas Honor Scholars.”
The Association plans to continue working with high schools to designate top students as Kansas Honor Scholars, providing recognition certificates to all schools, where administrators can determine the best ways to recognize their scholars. In addition, the Association and the University will host revamped Kansas Honor Scholar Ceremonies throughout the state.
Peterson explained that the Association will consolidate the 36 KHP events, many of which were costly dinners, into 12 regional receptions, which begin in Lawrence in conjunction with Crimson & Blue Day–a new visit day–at KU on October 13. Scholars and their families can choose to attend the free events that are most convenient in terms of date and location.
The Kansas Honors Program is believed to be the first program of its kind in the country. No other university or alumni association in the state honors the state’s top scholars in this way.
“With your help,” Peterson concluded in his letter to alumni, “we can continue the proud tradition of honoring outstanding young Kansans and encouraging them to continue their education—ideally at the University of Kansas.”
More than 40 alumni and 15 current students met July 18 on Michigan Avenue to learn from some of the best and brightest Jayhawk alumni based in the Windy City.
The event, Chicago Innovation and Entrepreneurship Panel, featured a panel of business leaders who shared the stories of their journey with Chicago area alumni. A select number of KU Student-Alumni Network members also attended.
Bryce McMichael, d’08, Chicago Network leader, said “One of the main goals we have in Chicago is diversifying our event offering beyond watch parties for KU games and expand into the careers and lifelong learning space. This event definitely fit the bill in that regard.”
David Hoese, e’86, vice president at Goldman Sachs served as panel moderator, with Todd Holmes c’89, CEO at Liquidus Marketing and co-founder of Goose Island Beer Co., Sherry Scott j’91, president at Gagen MacDonald, and David Grossman j’89, president at Freshii comprising the panel.
“The panelists stemmed from a Presidents Club reception we had last year in which Todd Holmes suggested an event like this,” McMichael said. “David Grossman and Sherry Scott were also added due to their specific entrepreneurial experience, local ties, and fascinating life stories.”
The event was the first of a series highlighting business leaders and entrepreneurs in Chicago. The panel offered advice to students and young alumni on topics such as how to start a business and risk tolerance.
“With 15 current KU students who hail from the Chicago area in attendance, I believe they came away with inspiration and pointers on how to create your own destiny and do the work you truly love,” McMichael said. “I also hope that those who went also came away knowing that their Alumni Association can provide much, much more value than they had originally thought going into the event!”
Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, president of the KU Alumni Association, echoed McMichael’s sentiments for the Alumni Association as a whole.
“We want to do more to directly connect students to industry leaders and showcase the power and reach of the KU degree,” Peterson said. “We must leverage the story of successful alumni to ensure current students have direct and constant access to a powerful network.”
Peterson’s goals were realized for Rebecca Hans, j’18, a Student-Alumni Network member who made an unexpected connection.
“I didn’t expect to know anyone [at the event] but I saw a family friend,” Hans said. “He introduced me to someone who has a connection to the military at KU. My dream job is a military psychologist where I could work with soldiers or their families and help them with mental health issues.”
“This event helped me realize that I can be successful in Chicago. Knowing that I am graduating in the spring, it is comforting to see that KU stays with you forever.”
Kansas City-based luxury watchmaker Niall is a top-tier sponsor of the 2017 Rock Chalk Ball, the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s largest annual fundraising event, April 29 at the Overland Park Convention Center. Hosted by the Greater Kansas City Alumni Network, the event raises funds for Association programs to advocate for KU, communicate to alumni and friends in all media, recruit students and volunteers, serve alumni and KU, and unite all Jayhawks.
As a presenting sponsor of the event, Niall will donate two of its limited-edition Fieldhouse Blue watches to the Association, one of which will be auctioned at the Rock Chalk Ball. The exclusive watch is officially licensed by KU and features basketball founder James Naismith’s original 13 rules of basketball micro-inscribed on the dial of the timepiece. Only 126 pieces of this watch have been produced—emblematic of the number of years since the inception of the game in 1891. A portion of the watch’s ongoing sales will be donated to Kansas Athletics and the Williams Education Fund.
Niall’s partnership with the Alumni Association also includes other opportunities for alumni engagement.
“We are immensely grateful to Niall for its generous sponsorship of the Alumni Association’s Rock Chalk Ball and other events,” said Heath Peterson, Association president. “Kansas City is the nation’s largest community of Jayhawks, and our programs, especially in recruiting legacy students, are vital to strengthening KU.”
“Niall is thrilled to sponsor this year’s Rock Chalk Ball,” said Association Life Member and Presidents Club Member Michael Wilson, b’05, founder and CEO of Niall. “This is a great way for us to support the Alumni Association and its mission to connect Jayhawks to the University of Kansas.”