Jim Doepke, aka “Mr. Trumpet,” returned to Allen Field House Feb. 3 to play the alma mater and national anthem before the KU-Oklahoma State men’s basketball game. It’s Doepke’s sixth time performing before the Jayhawk faithful, but he insists it never gets old—especially when his return coincides with the anniversaries of the 1988 and 2008 NCAA National Championship teams and the basketball program’s 120th anniversary.
“That just adds to the excitement,” says Doepke. “It’s just so cool to be part of that.”
Doepke, d’74, a retired high school band director who lives Florida, arrived in Lawrence on Friday with his son, J.P. Their first stop was Allen Field House, where father and son toured the exhibits and interactive displays in the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. “I’ve never really had time to do that,” Doepke says. “We really enjoyed it.”
Later, with trumpet in hand, Doepke visited the Adams Alumni Center, where he surprised staff with a special performance of the alma mater.
Doepke, who has set a goal to play the national anthem at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums, is scheduled to perform Aug. 2 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Aug. 4 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, which will raise his ballpark tally to 19.
Their gifts were years in the making. Nichole Jeter Wheeler, b’98, and her husband, Jon, c’96, first discussed getting Jayhawk license plates five years ago when they moved to Montgomery, Texas, a suburb just north of Houston.
“We talked about it off and on,” Nichole says. “But we hadn’t talked about it in a couple years.”
The Wheelers were in for the ultimate surprise this past Christmas, when they decided for the first time in years to exchange gifts. A few months before the holiday Nichole ordered her husband a “KU HAWK” plate. She soon discovered, after reviewing their credit card statement a month later, that he had purchased a “LOVE KU” plate for her.
“It was just kind of funny,” says Nichole. “The one year that we actually decided to exchange gifts, we got each other KU vanity plates.”
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.
University of Kansas alumna and stand-up comedian Nikki Glaser returned to Lawrence June 29 for a sold-out performance at the Lawrence Arts Center, where she churned out her classically irreverent yet relatable comedy for a crowd that included her family, friends—and even one of her KU professors.
“Guys, I’m so happy to be back here,” she told the audience. “I haven’t been back since 2008.”
Since last setting foot in Lawrence, Glaser has toured nationwide, hosted her own television series, “Not Safe with Nikki Glaser,” which premiered on Comedy Central in 2016, and appeared in several movies, including director Judd Apatow’s “Trainwreck” in 2015.
Glaser, c’06, who recalls being wildly inappropriate even as a young girl, says she caught the comedy bug her freshman year in college. “I did my first time on stage in Boulder, and my friend held up the phone so my dad could listen on speakerphone,” she says. “I probably bombed, but I had so much fun that I got off stage and called my dad crying, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’”
Still, her parents encouraged her to complete her degree. She reluctantly complied, admitting that she preferred trips to Kansas City for stand-up shows over studying for class. “I really b.s.-ed my way through everything,” she says. “I remember sitting in a study area and just writing jokes. I wrote jokes while people were studying for finals.”
Glaser got her big break during her senior year at KU, when she traveled to Chicago with 10 other performers to try out for the NBC reality show “Last Comic Standing.” The judges were easily won over by the young comedian’s quick wit and uncensored jokes.
“They loved it,” she says. “That was the moment I thought, ‘There’s something here.’”
Glaser has continued to rely on what she calls “dumb confidence” throughout her career, powering past rejection and doubt to make her mark in the comedy world. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have unwavering support and encouragement from her biggest fans—her family.
“They’re so supportive it’s almost a problem,” she says with a laugh. “I have thrown them under the bus so many times in my acts, and they’ve always been so cool and supportive.”
Frank Mason III got a warm welcome last weekend from family, friends and fans in his hometown of Petersburg, Virginia, during a series of festivities that celebrated the KU basketball star and national player of the year.
Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham on Friday declared May 19 “Frank Leo Mason III Day” and issued a proclamation of Mason’s achievements before presenting him a key to the city. KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend, who discovered Mason in 2012 during a Las Vegas recruiting trip, and nearly 30 Richmond Jayhawks attended the celebration.
“Frank Mason III is beloved by fans for providing us four great years and helping our team reach the important 13-straight milestone,” says Kimberly Gulley Winn, l’95, g’03, executive director of Virginia Municipal League, who spoke at the event. “We were honored to be a part of the events highlighting the amazing career of this terrific young man, and we are looking forward to following his NBA career.”
On Saturday, locals packed William Lawson Gymnasium at Petersburg High School, where Mason attended and played, for an alumni basketball game. Mason’s No. 15 jersey was retired during a halftime ceremony.
“I just want to appreciate everybody that came out,” Mason, c’17, told the crowd. “I thank my family, friends, everybody that I love. Besides those people, I do it for Petersburg.”
Later that day, Mason threw out the first pitch at a Flying Squirrels minor-league baseball game in Richmond, Virginia.
One of the most treasured traditions at the University of Kansas takes place every spring, when thousands of graduating students walk through the Campanile and down the Hill for Commencement.
Brian Palermo, a KU Admissions representative based in St. Louis, never got to experience that moment. Shortly after graduating in December 2012, he accepted a job at a mental health facility for children in Oklahoma City. Knowing it would be difficult to take time off in May for the ceremony, he let the opportunity slip by.
Earlier this year, Palermo, c’13, shared with his supervisor, Elisa Zahn Krapcha, c’05, j’05, g’11, that he never participated in Commencement. She mentioned that the Admissions team should stage a small ceremony for him.
“I kind of knew we might do a little something, but I didn’t expect too much,” Palermo says.
Krapcha and Heidi Simon, g’00, senior associate director of Admissions, had a surprise in store. On May 8, they summoned nearly 20 team members to the Campanile, where Palermo was given a traditional cap and gown, as well as party beads and a crimson and blue lei.
“As I’m getting ready to walk through the Campanile, Heidi hands me a bottle of sparkling cider,” he recalls. “I got so focused on trying to open it, because people were shouting ‘Pop it, pop it!’ I was looking down at it and still walking when I heard someone say ‘Whoa, whoa! Hold on a moment.’”
When Palermo looked up, he saw Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little standing in front of him. “I was just floored,” he says. “I couldn’t believe she was there.”
The chancellor congratulated Palermo and delivered remarks, reminding him of KU’s noble mission: to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world.
“I challenged the graduates at the 2012 Commencement to continue to do all of these things after they walked down the Hill,” Gray-Little told him. “You’ve done these things even without being there to hear my call.”
As Palermo wraps up his first year as a KU Admissions representative, he’s more determined than ever to continue serving the University, thanks to the kindness and support of his team and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.
“It was just a really special moment that I don’t think I’ll ever forget,” he says.
When Bill French ran for president during his junior year at KU, he pledged that the Class of 1977 would bestow a gift upon the University. “At that time, I had no idea what the gift was going to be or what kind of money we had,” he says with a laugh. “It was one of those platform promises you make and then you hope you’ll have some money to give a gift the size of a bouquet of flowers.”
Turns out, the Class of 1977 had more in its budget than expected. With the help of the other class officers and Jeff Millikan, gift chairman, French identified $1,000 that could be used toward a University gift. “We knew that the KU Athletics Hall of Fame was just getting started,” he says. “I suggested we look at a major assist for it.”
French, j’77, and Millikan, c’77, g’80, met with KU’s Athletic Director Clyde Walker to discuss a gift that would help the newly established hall of fame. “At that time, they just had some posters up,” French recalls. “I said, ‘We’ve only got $1,000, but I’ll get the right media involved with this. We’ll have a picture, we’ll run a story, we’ll have a big check made.’”
French put out the word, and several area newspapers picked up the story, including the Kansas City Star, the Lawrence Journal-World and the Wichita Eagle.
“Clyde Walker later told me that the Class of 1977’s gift and associated news stories really helped the KU Athletic Hall of Fame with their fundraising efforts,” says French.
The Hall of Fame has expanded over the years, and in 2006, the Booth Family Hall of Athletics opened on the east side of Allen Field House, thanks to more than $5 million in gifts from the children and grandchildren of the late Gilbert and Betty Booth. Following an expansion in 2009, the sprawling, 19,335-square-foot sports shrine now features interactive exhibits and a basketball championship trophy case—not to mention a plaque that recognizes the Class of 1977 for its generous gift 40 years ago.
“It’s really grown into a big deal,” says French. “I’m very glad that our class was able to be a part of kicking it off.”
Image courtesy Bill French. Pictured from left to right: Stephan Van Kepple, Dorothy Schloerb, Chancellor Archie Dykes, Clyde Walker, Randy Brown, Bill French, Jeff Millikan, Marianne Maurin, Carol Smith and Fred Knuth
Sunny skies and soaring temps made for a near-perfect day as about 300 graduating students dropped by the Adams Alumni Center May 5 for Grad Grill. The annual event was presented by the Alumni Association and HERE Kansas, a new apartment community on the Lawrence campus.
Students mingled with friends throughout the evening and enjoyed free food and fresh brews, courtesy of Hy-Vee and Free State Brewing Company. The KU Bookstore and Kansas Athletics were also on hand with coupons, gift-card giveaways, and free posters, koozies, license-plate frames and sunglasses. Local DJ Scott Simpson kept things lively with the latest pop tunes and students took turns capturing not-so-candid moments in the photo booth.
Scott Bagley, a senior from Overland Park, stopped by to grab some food and socialize before diving into finals preparation. “A few good friends from high school are going to be here,” he said. “I’m hoping to see them.”
Yee Ming Khaw and Puteri Ahmad, seniors from Malaysia, and Katie Morales, a senior from Emporia, hit Grad Grill before going out for more Stop Day celebrations. “It’s Friday night,” said Ahmad. “It’s one of the last Friday nights before Commencement.”
More than 100 faculty, staff, students and guests attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 9 at the newly named Lt. Gen. William K. Jones Military-Affiliated Student Center at the University of Kansas.
The nearly 3,000-square-foot center, located in Summerfield Hall, honors Jones, c’37, a highly decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran whose 33-year military career included tours in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
“We’re honored to name the center after a distinguished KU alumnus and Marine Corps veteran who served for more than three decades,” said Director April Blackmon Strange. “This center provides us with an inviting space to better serve our growing number of military-affiliated students—from the first time they express interest in KU to Commencement and beyond.”
More than 1,100 military-affiliated students on campus have access to the center, which includes a lounge with computers and televisions; quiet spaces for tutoring and studying; meeting and conference rooms; free printing and copying services; and assistance from an onsite Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs representative.
For the past two years, the University has been named a top-10 school for veterans by the Military Times and has also been recognized by other organizations that rate schools on their military student services.
Several of Jones’ family members attended the ceremony, including his son, William K. Jones Jr., who also served in the Marine Corps; his daughter; his nephew, Jim Jones Jr., a retired Marine Corps general and the former U.S. National Security Adviser for President Barack Obama; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“We’re all really excited about this honor to my father,” said Bill Jones Jr., c’81. “He loved KU, and he loved being a Kansas Jayhawk.”
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little praised Jayhawks for their persistence in making the center a reality for military-affiliated students and noted its critical role in the University’s mission to build strong, healthy communities.
“This center represents another commitment to our veterans and military-affiliated students,” she said. “I am proud that our University recognizes and addresses the unique needs of this population of students.”
JR Cadwallader, a Marine Corps veteran and president of KU’s Student Veterans of America, noted that the organization’s new home on campus was “well worth the wait.”
“The Lt. Gen. William K Jones Military-Affiliated Center is here to leverage the unique strengths and talents we bring to the University of Kansas,” he said. “We now have a center to help us create better students, a better campus, better communities and a better nation for the next generation of successful veterans.”
Justin Law is the first to admit that his spouse is much better at compromising than he is—especially when it comes to watching college sports. But he’s no stranger to compromise either.
Justin, b’99, g’04, a diehard Jayhawk, lives in Manhattan with his wife, Kelly, a K-State graduate. They met in Kansas City in 2004, thanks to a friend who played matchmaker. An engagement soon followed, and the young couple decided to ditch the big city and move to a smaller town.
“Manhattan wasn’t necessarily on the list at the time,” Justin recalls wryly.
That changed when Kelly accepted a job at the K-State Alumni Association. The Laws have been in the Little Apple ever since.
Despite the fact that Justin bleeds crimson and blue, and Kelly’s pride is purple, the two make it work. “She’s come to KU basketball games with me but not against K-State,” says Justin. “I’ve been to K-State football games when they’re not playing KU. I’m a little more competitive and more interested in the outcome of sporting events, especially against K-State—especially living in Manhattan.”
Kelly, who now works at USI Insurance Services and counts the KU Alumni Association as one of her clients, has softened her stance against her intrastate rival. “I will willingly go to KU games when they’re not playing K-State, and I’ll cheer for KU,” she says. “But I typically wear pretty neutral colors.”
Justin gets a little support from their daughter, Kherington, who’s almost 7. The young girl, who at first favored the Wildcats over the Jayhawks, has been singing a different tune lately. The future Jayhawk, who is a big fan of Baby Jay and can easily recite KU’s alma mater, proudly sports her Jayhawk cheerleading outfit to school and willingly endures teasing from her teachers and classmates.
“She actually started out a K-State fan,” says Justin. “Around the age of 4, she switched allegiances. I’m honestly not sure how that happened. I wish I knew how, so if she started wavering I could bring her back.”
The Laws keep the family rivalry fun by placing wagers, which include dinner duty or a household chore for the losing fan, on KU vs. K-State games. “We have a lot of family bets,” says Kelly. “It’s always Kherington and Justin against me.”
Although Justin and his daughter often don’t fare well during football season, they look forward to basketball season and rely on their ’Hawks to outplay the Wildcats—if for no other reason than to dodge dinner duty. Here’s hoping they get their win.