A note from Heath: Students have key role to play in keeping KU strong

Posted on Jan 25, 2018 in News

Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association | A note from Heath: Students have key role to play in keeping KU strongYour 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.

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He’s got it if he can find it

Posted on Jan 24, 2018 in News

Rod Ernst, owner of Ernst & Son hardware store in downtown Lawrence | Kansas Alumni magazine, issue no. 1, 2018

Rod Ernst, third-generation owner of the iconic downtown Lawrence hardware store Ernst & Son, died Jan. 23, the store announced today on its Facebook page. Ernst is the subject of a feature story in the current issue of Kansas Alumni. He was 84.

Ernst began working summers at 12 and became a full partner in 1961. For many years the three generations worked side by side in the Mass Street store, which Philip Ernst Sr. opened in 1905.

“The store was what he did, and he did it to the very end,” said Gregg Anderson, ’81, who began working for Rod Ernst as a KU student and returned to work part-time at the store after a long career in the hardware industry. “He could have retired and sold out, but he chose to keep doing his family’s work.”

Anderson added that Ernst’s definition of “family” was expansive; it took in employees past and present, including the dozens of KU students he hired over the decades.

“It was a foot up for kids who wanted to go to school. If you had a big test, Rod had no problem with you sitting at the front desk looking at notes between customers, and he took an interest in what you were doing,” Anderson said. “A lot of them never lost contact; they’re still part of the hardware family.”

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 Sunday, Jan. 28, at Warren-McElwain funeral home in Lawrence, and the funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 29, at First United Methodist, 10th and Vermont.

Read Steven Hill’s feature about Ernst for Kansas Alumni magazine below.

Learn more about the award-winning Kansas Alumni magazine, mailed bi-monthly to members of the KU Alumni Association. Members can log in to read the full version of the magazine. Free preview articles are available here.

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The Mighty ’Hawks

Posted on Jan 23, 2018 in News

Kansas Alumni magazine, issue No. 1, 2018 | Mighty Hawks club ice hockey

Club hockey returns, better than ever

Driven by their love for the game, a group of dedicated sports club athletes is leading a hockey resurgence at KU.

Yo juego hockey.

When his Spanish teacher asked students to introduce themselves to a classmate, Andy McConnell turned to an unknown guy seated nearby and said, en español, “I play hockey.”

When he arrived at KU, McConnell immediately sought out the men’s ice hockey club team. What he found here was not good. There were no prospects for the sport’s return, until McConnell heard his classmate’s reply:

Yo juego hockey.

McConnell closed out his playing career two years ago and has since volunteered his time as the club’s head coach.


Find out how KU’s ice hockey club team was reborn in Chris Lazzarino’s cover story for issue no. 1, 2018, of Kansas Alumni magazine.





For more information about the award-winning Kansas Alumni magazine, click here.

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Creature feature: Tylosaurus proriger

Posted on Jan 19, 2018 in News

Tylosaurus proriger, a replica of a mosasaur fossil, installed at the Earth, Energy & Environment Center at the University of Kansas.

A famous fossil and its prey showcase the newest space on Mount Oread.

The Earth, Energy and Environment Center‘s atrium includes a spectacular and fitting scene from the cretaceous period of Kansas.

A Tylosaurus proriger specimen, essentially a sea monster with giant teeth, was installed. It preyed on sea turtles, so staff members came up with the idea of using a fossil sea turtle that was also quarried from Kansas by a former KU student.

Visitors driving or walking past the building on Naismith Drive can see the Tylosaurus through the large glass window.



About the Earth, Energy & Environment Center

The Earth, Energy & Environment Center (EEEC) sits next to Lindley Hall and will open for classes in spring 2018. The two buildings of the EEEC—Ritchie Hall and Slawson Hall— will feature bridges to Lindley Hall and Learned Hall.

The multidisciplinary center is a collaboration between the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering. It will bring together faculty, students and researchers from geology and engineering to tackle energy and environmental research.

Read more about the December installation and see pictures.

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Dyche Hall’s beasts descend from their perches

Posted on Dec 7, 2017 in News

Kansas Alumni magazine | Dyche Hall

The KU Alumni Association recently mailed the latest issue of Kansas Alumni magazine to association members.

Issue six includes features about the grotesques of Dyche Hall; a hundred-year-old murder mystery solved by alumnus Bill James; and the popular sunflower fields of Grinter Farms.

Monsters of the Mind

A top-floor renovation of Dyche Hall reveals pressing needs for KU’s other mythical beasts: the grotesques that for a century have kept watch on Jayhawk Boulevard from their Natural History Museum perch.

Eroded to near-extinction, the iconic grotesques have found refuge in the Panorama as plans are pondered for their replacement.

Read Chris Lazzarino’s cover story below.


Recognized for overall excellence by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the award-winning Kansas Alumni magazine is mailed bi-monthly to members of the KU Alumni Association. Members can log in to read the full issue online or through the KU Alumni app. Nonmembers can access a free preview article from each issue.

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The Protein in the Freezer

Posted on Nov 22, 2017 in News

Joanna Slusky | Kansas Alumni magazine issue no. 5, 2017

Can a professor’s invention turn the battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

As a bioscience researcher at the University of Kansas, Joanna Slusky tackles one of public health’s most pressing problems: how to defeat drug-resistant bacteria and restore the healing power of antibiotics.

Slusky was awarded one of five Moore Inventor Fellowships, a three-year grant worth more than 800,000. In October, she was named the recipient of a $2.3 million New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Learn more about Slusky’s research in the cover story from Kansas Alumni magazine, issue No. 5, 2017.

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NIH backs Slusky research with prestigious New Innovator Award

Posted on Oct 5, 2017 in News

NIH backs Slusky research with prestigious New Innovator Award | Kansas Alumni magazineJoanna Slusky, a KU assistant professor of computational biology and molecular biosciences who won a Moore Inventor Fellowship for her work designing a protein that could help stem antibiotic resistance, was named today as the recipient of a $2.3 million New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Slusky’s work in protein design, the subject of a cover story in the current issue of Kansas Alumni, led to her involvement in the University’s successful 2016 bid to land an $11 million, five-year NIH grant that established the KU Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE): Chemical Biology of Infectious Disease. Asked to contribute research on antibiotic resistance, Slusky turned to a protein she’d invented—dubbed S1245—and stored in a freezer in her lab. After initial tests proved encouraging, she expanded the research to focus on E. coli bacteria with funding from the $825,000 Moore Fellowship.

The New Innovator Award, part of the NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, supports exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects. Slusky says the grant will allow her to expand her focus from E. coli to other bacterial infections which have similar methods of antibiotic resistance.

“The Moore project is really focused on, ‘Let’s make something,’” Slusky says. “The way that this New Innovator Award is structured, it gives me the ability to really explore the science that’s causing this to happen, so that we can use it potentially for other things as well. The science behind this kind of protein-protein interaction should be useful for other inventions that would be against antibiotic resistance, specifically other inventions that might be useful for other types of bacteria, for other types of antibiotic resistance that we could expand into.”

The increasing resistance of harmful bacteria to antibiotic drugs is a growing problem worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 2 million people in the United States become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and 23,000 die from these infections. Worldwide, the death toll from drug resistance in illnesses such as bacterial infections, malaria, HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis is 700,000. A 2014 British study projected that by 2050 10 million people will die each year because of increasing resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs, surpassing the death rate from cancer.

The scientists behind that study also compiled a list of the 10 most dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and Slusky has theorized that six of the 10 should be susceptible to a protein like S1245. “So far, with the Moore work, we’ve only been playing with one of the six,” Slusky says. “Now we can say, let’s try to generalize this so that we could see if we can impact six of ten.”

—Steven Hill

Can a professor’s invention turn the battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria? Read “The Protein in the Freezer,” a feature story on Joanna Slusky’s research from Kansas Alumni magazine, issue no. 5, 2017.

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Glaser returns to comedy roots with stand-up act in Lawrence

Posted on Jun 29, 2017 in News

Nikki Glaser | www.kualumni.orgUniversity 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.”

Check out Nikki Glaser’s performance on “The Tonight Show.”

—Heather Biele

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Class of 1977’s legacy lives on in Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame

Posted on May 11, 2017 in News

Class of 1977 | www.kualumni.org
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.”

—Heather Biele

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

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Posted on May 3, 2017 in News

Bernadette Gray-Little, Chancellor of the University of Kansas

Celebrate the chancellor

Last fall, Bernadette Gray-Little announced her plans to step down as University of Kansas chancellor this summer.

“Now is an ideal time for the University of Kansas to identify a new leader to guide the next chapter in the university’s history,” said Gray-Little, who came to Lawrence in 2009 as a highly regarded administrator and researcher.

Visit the University’s tribute page to Chancellor Gray-Little to learn more about her legacy and see a timeline of achievements during her tenure. Check out favorite photos of the Chancellor at university events and watch videos including her encounter with Little James Naismith and her unforgettable drive in a KU race car.

A Twitter feed on the page displays tributes made by students, alumni, faculty and staff members.

Exclusively for members

The next issue of Kansas Alumni magazine, which will land in members’ mailboxes later this month, will feature a cover story on the outgoing chancellor.

Not a member? Join by Tuesday, May 9, to ensure that you receive this commemorative issue of the magazine.

Make a gift

Jayhawks are invited to donate to two funds Chancellor Gray-Little was instrumental in creating.

The Chancellor’s Doctoral Fellowships help recruit and support doctoral students. Twelve fellowships are awarded each year to provide a $25,000 stipend and cover tuition and fees.

The Rosalie Lanier Gray KU Staff Assistance Fund provides emergency assistance for KU staff members who are struggling due to a natural or personal disaster that has caused financial hardship. Chancellor Gray-Little established the fund in honor of her mother, Rosalie Lanier Gray.

Share your memories of the chancellor online using the hashtag #ThankYouBGL.

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