For the second consecutive year, Best Western Plus West Lawrence, one of six hotel properties in the Wichita-based Hospitality Development of America portfolio, has partnered with the University of Kansas Alumni Association. The hotel, which opened in fall 2018, is adjacent to the Rock Chalk Park complex in west Lawrence and will serve as a presenting sponsor and exclusive hotel partner of KU’s 107th Homecoming, Oct. 19-26.
Best Western Plus West Lawrence also will support the Student Alumni Network and the Alumni Association’s legacy student recruitment receptions for students and parents when they visit campus this year. In addition, the hotel will provide silent auction donations for two of the Association’s largest annual fundraising events, the Rock Chalk Ball in Kansas City and the Jayhawk Roundup in Wichita, and will offer Association members an exclusive discount on hotel stays.
“Homecoming is one of KU’s greatest traditions for students and alumni, and we’re thrilled to receive support from Best Western Plus West Lawrence to make this year’s celebration the best in years,” said Heath Peterson, KU Alumni Association president. “Thanks to this partnership, the Alumni Association also will continue to provide a host of programs and services for Jayhawks on the Hill and beyond.”
“As a proud KU alumnus, I fully understand the value of working with the KU Alumni Association to showcase our Lawrence hotel property to alumni, donors, parents and fans. The Association provides creative avenues to market our hotel with our investment going directly to supporting alumni and student programs. We are excited for Best Western Plus West Lawrence to be Jayhawks’ ‘home’ when they are in town to celebrate the great tradition of KU Homecoming,” said Steve Martens, c’75, CEO of The Martens Companies and its hotel development and management subsidiaries. Martens also is a Life Member of the Alumni Association and a Presidents Club donor.
The University of Kansas will celebrate its 107th Homecoming Oct. 19-26, culminating in the KU football game against Texas Tech Oct. 26 in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
The KU Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Leadership Board will coordinate the week of Homecoming activities. Association staff members leading the effort are Ally Stanton, director of student programs, and Keon Stowers, assistant director of student programs. KU’s Homecoming tradition began in 1912.
Homecoming leaders will meet throughout the spring semester to select a theme and finalize the schedule of activities, which will include competitions for student organizations, community service activities, reunions, the Homecoming parade and pep rally, and the selection of 10 student finalists for the Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (Ex.C.E.L.) Awards. The winners will be announced during halftime of the football game Oct. 26.
The KU School of Journalism and Mass Communications invited alumni back to its Home on the Hill for J-School Generations, a two-day homecoming event.
One of the highlights was J-Talk, a TED-talk style event featuring alumni sharing stories of lessons they’ve learned through their careers.
Carlos P. Beltran, c’09, j’09, discussed his experiences as a digital content producer, both as a freelancer and for NBC Left Field, a documentary unit that profiles human-interest stories such as a KU alumnus’ classroom museum.
We sat down with Beltran to ask him more about his time at KU and his advice on choosing what to do after graduation.
When did you know what you wanted to do your career?
Ever since I was a child running around with a camera I knew I wanted to do something with video. It wasn’t until my second year at KU that I switched to journalism and decided to do it for a living.
As for what kind of video, it wasn’t until 2013, when I finished a fiction project that took two years of my life and it didn’t pan out the way I wanted. I decided I didn’t need fancy equipment and huge crews. I knew that with a camera, a microphone, a great subject, and my editing skills, I could make good work, and I dedicated myself to documentary filmmaking.
How did you get involved with such a cool production like NBC Left Field?
The unit opened a year and a half ago in Brooklyn, and after freelancing in Venezuela for a couple years I was looking for somewhere to settle down. My good friend Mariana Keller, who works at NBC News Digital told me about the opening, and after sitting down with the leader of the unit they liked my work enough to bring me on.
How did your time at KU help you get to where you are now?
I learned everything from ethics, to how to approach networks with my work, the basics of narrative and storytelling, and of course editing over at Dole, spending days editing on Final Cut Pro 7 in the media labs. Here you’ll learn how to be a great journalist, out there, you practice being one. Once you leave, don’t think you’ll get the perfect job right off the bat. You’ll go through times where you’ll discover what you don’t like to do. It might take years, it took me from graduation in 2009 to 2013 when I realized what I really wanted to do.
What advice do you have for those starting out in their careers?
When I graduated from school, I thought I wanted to work at an ad agency, or work in video, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I immediately thought I maybe should go get my masters, but I never did. Someone told me “if you want to be a documentary filmmaker, go make documentaries.” Go make one, and then you’ll have a business card. If you want to work in this industry, don’t wait until someone commissions you. If you find an amazing character, then shoot the story. That two minute video that you produced independently shows your skills and that you’re passionate about your work. Go shoot something, make yourself a portfolio.
Two University of Kansas students, Jose Montoya of Los Lunas, New Mexico, and Jonnette Oakes of Topeka, are winners of the 28th annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (Ex.C.E.L.) Awards. The award presentation during halftime of the KU-Oklahoma State football game Sept. 29 in the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium concluded KU’s 106th Homecoming celebration.
Montoya, a senior majoring in sport management and journalism, is president of the Multicultural Greek Council. He is a Hawk Link Honors Program graduate and participates in the Multicultural Scholars Program. He is treasurer of the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and he served as vice president of the Latino fraternity Phi Iota Alpha. He is a Marching Jayhawks rank leader and press announcer for KU Women’s Tennis. He served as a sports reporter and crew member for Playmakers Central on KUJH-TV and was a volunteer crew member for Rock Chalk Video. He won the Earl Falkenstien Honor Award in 2018 and has interned in Washington, D.C., for the past two summers.
Oakes, a senior majoring in political science with a minor in business, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and served as the chapter’s president and nominating chair. She was secretary of the law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta and currently serves as vice president of outreach for the National Pan-Hellenic Council. She has been a student ambassador at KU and she assists new students as an Adidas peer mentor. She interned for the Kansas Legislature and was a desk assistant for the KU Office of Multicultural Affairs.
The Ex.C.E.L. Award provides an annual $250 scholarship to two students. Nominees were selected on the basis of leadership, effective communication skills, involvement at KU and in the Lawrence community, academic scholarship and ability to work with a variety of students and organizations.
“Home on the Hill”
The theme for this year’s Homecoming was “Home on the Hill.” The event was sponsored by Crown Toyota, Volkswagen and Hy-Vee, with two locations in Lawrence, and was supported by Kansas Athletics. Students and alumni participated in several activities throughout the week, including competitions, reunions and tailgates. The Alumni Association also launched KU Mentoring, a program that provides career connections and networking opportunities for students and alumni. The program is the first phase of the Jayhawk Career Network.
The annual Homecoming celebration was organized by the KU Alumni Association and a student-led steering committee, which was chaired by Allyson Bellner, a sophomore from Marion, Iowa, majoring in biology; Ashley Dunn, a Lawrence junior majoring in communication studies; Logan Hotz, a Rose Hill junior majoring in mathematics and economics; Mary Claire McLaughlin, a junior from Ballwin, Missouri, majoring in mechanical engineering and business; and Rebecca Seldin, a junior from Deerfield, Illinois, majoring in strategic communications. They worked with Alumni Association staff members Ally Stanton, director of student programs, and Keon Stowers, assistant director of student programs.
The Homecoming parade was Thursday, Sept. 27, on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence and featured KU alumni Rich and Judy Howard Billings of Lakewood, Colorado, as grand marshals. The Billings are benefactors of the annual Spirit of 1912 Award and participated in their 60th Homecoming celebration this year.
Other 2018 Homecoming event and award winners are:
Jennifer Alderdice Homecoming Award
Brianna Mears, a junior from Georgetown, Texas majoring in strategic communications
Overall Winners Greek Life
1st place: Alpha Delta Pi, Chi Omega, Alpha Tau Omega, Beta Sigma Psi
2nd place: Kappa Delta, Sigma Kappa, Theta Chi, Delta Tau Delta
3rd place: Alpha Chi Omega, Triangle, Delta Gamma, Sigma Pi
Student Life – Chalk & Rock Competition Best Interpretation of Theme: Sellards Scholarship Hall
Best Use of Space: Watkins Scholarship Hall
Difficulty Level – Picasso: Krehbiel Scholarship Hall
Most Spirited: The Big Event
Best Incorporation of Organization: Women in Medicine
Every Jayhawk has his or her own home on the Hill, but for Patrick McCarty, it’s one shared with his family.
McCarty, f’04 g’14, had the special experience of sharing the field with his father Gary McCarty, d’76, and grandfather Philip McCarty, d’52, for alumni band day at 1999’s Homecoming celebration.
“At first, it seemed like a normal game day,” McCarty said. “However, right before the halftime performance, it dawned on me how special of a moment and opportunity it was for myself, my father, and my grandfather to perform together on the campus that we all went to college to. It is probably the first and only time we ever had the opportunity to perform together.”
The McCartys claim three generations in the Marching Jayhawks, but music runs deeper in the family.
“My grandfather was one of the first to study in the beginning stages of the KU music therapy program, and he ended up working in hospitals helping patients cope and recover through the use of music. My father went on to be a high school band director for over 30 years before he retired. My mother (Diane McCarty, d’74 g’81) was an elementary music teacher for many years before retiring. My younger brother is also a professional musician.”
Patrick keeps the music going, too. He’s in his 14th year as a high school or college band director, currently at Olathe North. He points to his time at KU as a reason why.
“The professors, colleagues, and friends that I made during my time at KU in the music education program and band program have been incredibly inspirational towards the musician, teacher, and person that I now am today. The band program provided a great musical and social outlet, including some very special performance memories, like playing drumset in the KU Men’s Basketball Band at the 2002 and 2003 Final Four.”
KU Alumni Band performs annually during the Homecoming Parade and at halftime of the Homecoming football game. For more information about alumni band weekend, visit the KU Band Alumni Network page.
What started 15 years ago as an idea to get TRIO students more involved during Homecoming has grown into a tradition you don’t want to miss.
Rod Oelschlager, then TRIO Academic Coordinator, launched the event in 2003. “The first one was in Room 7 with about 25 mugs that my mom donated,” Oelschlager said. “We put up a few crimson and blue streamers, made hot chocolate in a turkey roaster, and waited to see if anyone was interested. The mugs and hot chocolate were gone in 15 minutes. We knew we were on to something.”
Each year, the Great Mug Giveaway gets bigger and bigger. The number of mugs has multiplied, and a few streamers has given way to hallways turned into art studios. Oelschlager is since retired but remains heavily involved in his creation.
“After a few years in Room 7 and more and more people showing up, we moved into the hallway outside our offices,” Oelschlager said. “Today we will have over 500 mugs to choose from, hundreds of guests, and decorations that we start on in July or early August each year.”
Collecting all the mugs is a year-round process. Rod and the TRIO staff keep an eye out for mugs at thrift stores and garage sales. They also appreciate mug donations.
TRIO is a college opportunity program that provides support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their pursuit of a successful college experience.
Even in retirement, Oelschlager gives his time to TRIO and his alma mater. “Like so many alums at KU, we have a real love for our University. Rock Chalk is much more than just a chant to us.”
The Ex.C.E.L. Award provides an annual $250 scholarship to two students. Nominees were selected on the basis of leadership, effective communication skills, involvement at KU and in the Lawrence community, academic scholarship and ability to work with a variety of students and organizations. The selection committee included representatives from Student Union Activities, the Board of Class Officers, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and the Homecoming Steering Committee.
The award was first given in 1991 to recognize two students for achievement. Names of winners are listed on a plaque on the fifth level of the Kansas Union. To be eligible, applicants must be full-time undergraduate students with an overall grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. Each finalist completed an application and participated in an interview. The finalists and their academic majors are listed below, along with highlights of their campus achievements.
Autumn Crafton, management and leadership with a minor in psychology, is vice president of development for Student Union Activities and has coordinated events for the organization. She is a student assistant for School of Business career services and served as an Amazon Prime student lead brand ambassador. She volunteers at the Lawrence Public Library, where she assists with youth programs and services.
Ashley Dunn, communication studies with a minor in leadership studies, is a student ambassador for KU Admissions and an events coordinator for Student Union Activities. She served as a resident assistant for Student Housing and was a student assistant for the Center for Public Partnerships and Research. She is a Hawk Link graduate and participates in the Multicultural Scholars Program. She is a member of the Black Student Union and the Homecoming Steering Committee. She was a Student Senator for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and participated in the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy.
Harneet Sanghera, finance and political science, is president of the Kansas Memorial Unions Corporation Board and lead building manager for the Kansas Union. She has served Student Union Activities in several leadership roles, including president, vice president and special events coordinator. She participates in the University Honors Program and the Business Honors Program and is treasurer of Mortar Board. She was a Student Senator for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. She has volunteered at Just Food, Kansas Appleseed, Project Create and KU Community Conversation.
From Overland Park
Nidhi Patel, English and biology, is a University Honors Scholar and student ambassador and peer mentor in the program. She also participates in the Honors Program Student Council and served as co-president. She has been a research assistant in medicinal chemistry and early childhood research, and she serves as academic chair of the medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon. She participated in the KU Jeeva Dance Group and was an APEX peer tutor. She volunteers at the Lawrence Community Shelter and Lawrence Memorial Hospital. She was named a Global Scholar in 2016 and a Hall Center Scholar in 2018.
Nellie Landon Kassebaum, English with a minor in public policy, is co-executive director of the student advocacy organization Rise KU and president of board of class officers. She is a student advisory board member for the Dole Institute of Politics and a member of the Student Alumni Leadership Board. She participated in Student Senate and was vice president and founding member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority. She is a student ambassador for the University Honors Program and served as Homecoming executive director in 2017. She volunteers at Camp Planet D and the Lawrence Public Library. She was named a Hall Center Scholar in 2017.
Hannah Berland, human biology and pre-medicine, is a KU School of Medicine Rural Scholar and participates in the University Honors Program. She is president of Phi Delta Epsilon and has served as the medical fraternity’s vice president of programming and technology chair. She directs recruitment for the KU Dance Marathon and oversees the rural medical brigades for the Jayhawk Health Initiative. She is a mental health peer educator at KU Counseling and Psychological Services and she interns at the JayDoc Free Clinic. She has volunteered at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the St. Lawrence Center, where she currently serves as a eucharistic minister.
Jonnette Oakes, political science with a minor in business, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and served as the chapter’s president and nominating chair. She was secretary of the law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta and currently serves as vice president of outreach for the National Pan-Hellenic Council. She has been a student ambassador at KU and she assists new students as an Adidas peer mentor. She interned for the Kansas Legislature and was a desk assistant for the KU Office of Multicultural Affairs.
From Los Lunas
Jose Montoya, sport management and journalism, is president of the Multicultural Greek Council. He is a Hawk Link Honors Program graduate and participates in the Multicultural Scholars Program. He is treasurer of the men’s music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and he served as vice president of the Latino fraternity Phi Iota Alpha. He is a Marching Jayhawks rank leader and press announcer for KU Women’s Tennis. He served as a sports reporter and crew member for Playmakers Central on KUJH-TV and was a volunteer crew member for Rock Chalk Video. He won the Earl Falkenstien Honor Award in 2018 and has interned in Washington, D.C., for the past two summers.
The University of Kansas Alumni Association and the student-led Homecoming Steering Committee have named Howard and Debra Cohen of Leawood as winners of this year’s Rich and Judy Billings Spirit of 1912 Award. The annual award recognizes Jayhawks who consistently display school spirit, pride and tradition.
The Cohens will ride in the Homecoming Parade at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence and receive their award at the Homecoming reception, before kickoff of the KU-Oklahoma State football game Saturday, Sept. 29.
Howard earned his KU bachelor’s degree in business in 1979 and for nearly 40 years has worked at Deloitte in Kansas City, where he’s a lead client service partner. He chaired the business school’s advisory board and served on the national board of directors for the Alumni Association from 2006 to 2011. He has volunteered as a trustee for KU Endowment since 2003. He is a Life member of the Alumni Association and participates in Jayhawks for Higher Education. In 2005, the School of Business honored him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Debbi is a dedicated Jayhawk and co-chairs the Women Philanthropists for KU advisory board. She and Howard have attended numerous KU events in Kansas City, including the Rock Chalk Ball, the Association’s largest fundraising event, for nearly two decades. The Cohens are longtime contributors to the Presidents Club and donated to the School of Business’ capital campaign, which raised funds for the construction of Capitol Federal Hall.
The Spirit of 1912 Award commemorates the first year of KU’s Homecoming and honors Rich and Judy Billings of Lakewood, Colorado, who in 2011 created an endowment to fund future editions of Homecoming. The Billings, both 1957 KU graduates, will attend their 60th KU Homecoming celebration this year, serving as grand marshals in the parade.
The University of Kansas will celebrate its 106thHomecoming Sept. 22-29 with the theme “Home on the Hill,” culminating in the KU football game against Oklahoma State University on Sept. 29 in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
The annual event is organized by the KU Alumni Association and features a weeklong series of student and alumni activities, including competitions, reunions, tailgates, the Homecoming Parade on Sept. 27 and the selection of 10 student finalists for the Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (Ex.C.E.L.) Awards. The winners will be announced during halftime of the football game. The event is sponsored by Crown Toyota, Volkswagen and Hy-Vee, with two locations in Lawrence, and is supported by Kansas Athletics.
The grand marshals for this year’s parade are Rich and Judy Howard Billings of Lakewood, Colorado. The Billings, both 1957 KU graduates, are Life Members of the Alumni Association and Presidents Club donors. They also are benefactors of the annual Spirit of 1912 Award, which commemorates the first year of KU’s Homecoming and recognizes Jayhawks who consistently display school spirit, pride and tradition. This is the 60th year the Billings will participate in the university’s Homecoming celebration.
The student-led Homecoming Steering Committee is chaired by Allyson Bellner, a sophomore from Marion, Iowa, majoring in biology and Ashley Dunn, a Lawrence junior majoring in communication studies. They work with Alumni Association staff members Ally Stanton, director of student programs, and Keon Stowers, assistant director of student programs.
Two Lawrence Hy-Vee supermarkets, with locations on Sixth Street and on Clinton Parkway, have partnered with the University of Kansas Alumni Association to sponsor several alumni programs and events, including:
The KU Student Alumni Network Restaurant Partner Program, which supports Home Football Fridays, Trunk or Treat on Oct. 26, Connect on Campus events, Big Jay’s Recess and Finals Dinners. Hy-Vee will also support the new Jayhawk Impact Award, created by the Student Alumni Network and the Student Involvement & Leadership Center to recognize KU students who have made substantial contributions to the University.
The University’s 106th Homecoming celebration, which begins Saturday, Sept. 22, with the theme, “Home on the Hill,” and features a weeklong series of student and alumni activities, culminating in the KU vs. Oklahoma State football game Sept. 29 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
The KU Veteran’s Day 5K run, Sunday, Nov. 11, at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Hy-Vee is the platinum-level grocery store sponsor and will also host the run’s Recovery Zone.
The Rock Chalk Ball, the Alumni Association’s largest annual fundraising event, in spring 2019, which supports Association and Student Alumni Network programs and activities. Hy-Vee is the exclusive floral provider and will also donate a package for the Silent Auction.
The Gold Medal Club Reunion Weekend, May 3-4, 2019, which celebrates alumni who have passed their 50th anniversary of graduation. Hy-Vee will cater the welcome and reunion lunches during the event.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Lawrence Hy-Vee grocery stores throughout the 2018-’19 academic year,” said Heath Peterson, KU Alumni Association president. “Their support will strengthen the Association’s efforts to connect with Jayhawks of all ages through student programs and at several alumni events.”
“We are excited about our unique partnership with the KU Alumni Association and KU Student Alumni Network,” said Steve Colbern, director of the Hy-Vee store on Sixth Street. “Our involvement is all-encompassing to support students, alumni, veterans and the Lawrence community. We look forward to bringing the Hy-Vee experience to support the Association.”
“The Lawrence Hy-Vee stores have enjoyed a strong relationship with the KU Alumni Association,” said Brett Albers, director of the Clinton Parkway Hy-Vee store. “When presented with the chance to fully engage with the organization on all levels, we jumped at the opportunity to partner and help advance both organization’s objectives.”