Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia and recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, received an honorary doctorate from KU tonight at the Lied Center.
Chancellor Doug Girod and former Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little participated in a hooding ceremony that awarded Santos, b’73, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for “outstanding contributions to achieving peace in his country and the world.”
Elected president in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, Santos won the Nobel Prize for helping broker a peace agreement that ended the civil war that ravaged Colombia for 54 years, killing more than 220,000 and displacing nearly 6 million. The Colombian government and FARC rebels signed a peace deal in November 2016 that was ratified a week later by Colombia’s Congress.
“This added, obviously, to the immense pride those of us at KU and alumni around the world felt for our fellow Jayhawk,” Girod said. “His success also really highlights the efforts of our own faculty, students, staff and alumni in our efforts to make this campus a welcoming place for students from around the world.”
“I am very humbled and deeply moved to be standing here before you all to receive this degree from my beloved alma mater, where I graduated 44 years ago,” Santos said. He credited his brother, Luis, j’70, then attending the William Allen White School of Journalism, for his decision in 1969 to attend KU. “He wrote to me, saying that this was a great university and that I would love it. And I did. Since then I have been a proud Jayhawk, and I shall always be to the end of my days.”
Santos is the 15th person to receive an honorary degree since KU began awarding them in 2012.
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!
Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our biweekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes.If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at email@example.com.
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 heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.
President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia on Friday was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at ending a civil war that has ravaged his country for more than 50 years. Although the peace accord Santos, a 1973 KU graduate with degrees in business and economics, negotiated with Colombian rebels was unexpectedly rejected by voters, the Norwegian Nobel Committee expressed hope that the award would encourage Colombians to continue their efforts at ending a civil war that killed more than 220,000 and displaced nearly 6 million.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasizes the importance of the fact that President Santos is now inviting all parties to participate in a broad-based national dialogue aimed at advancing the peace process,” the Nobel Committee stated in a press release issued Oct. 7 from its Oslo, Norway, headquarters. “Even those who opposed the peace accord have welcomed such a dialogue. The Nobel Committee hopes that all parties will take their share of responsibility and participate constructively in the upcoming peace talks.”
Santos followed an older brother, Luis Fernando Santos, a 1970 graduate of KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, to KU, arriving on Mount Oread in 1969. As detailed in a cover story of Kansas Alumni magazine’s issue No. 3, 2011, Santos first lived in McCollum Hall, then joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity as a sophomore.
A motivated scholar—as well as a friendly fraternity brother who enjoyed beers at The Wagon Wheel Café, serenading sororities and participating in all-night nickel-dime-quarter poker games—Santos earned his KU degree in seven semesters, returned to Colombia, then left for London where he began his career as Colombia’s delegate to the International Coffee Organization. The KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences named Santos a distinguished alumnus in 2012.
“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.”
Olav Njølstad, secretary of the Nobel Committee, on Friday said, “I just had a chance to talk with President Santos on the phone, and he was overwhelmed. He said immediately that this is ‘very, very, very important for my country and for the continuing peace process.’”
For continuing updates, follow KU Alumni Association social media outlets, and Alumni Association members will find complete coverage in issue No. 6 of Kansas Alumni magazine.