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.”
Leland Hansen, p’71, was honored with the Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award on February 25 in recognition of his sustained volunteer service to the University at the local level for more than 30 years. The award was presented during the Kansas Honors Program in Atchison, where the KU Alumni Association was honoring the top ten percent of high school seniors in Brown, Doniphan and Atchison Counties.
The Kansas Honors Program and many other alumni programs would not be possible without the help of more than 1,600 loyal volunteers like Hansen.
“I am honored and deeply appreciate this award,” Hansen said while accepting the award in front of a large crowd at the Atchison Heritage Conference Center that included students from Horton High School, where he attended in 1966. Principal David Norman commended Hansen before he presented the Kansas Honor Scholars from Horton High and encouraged them to live up to Hansen’s example by giving back.
After graduating from Horton High, Hansen attended Highland Community College for 2 years, receiving an Associate of Arts Degree in 1968. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Pharmacy from the University of Kansas in 1971.
Following graduation, Hansen began working for Chuck and Harold Tice at Tice Rexall Drugs in Hiawatha, Kansas. In 1978, he became the first full-time pharmacist at Hiawatha Community Hospital, and in 1992 he purchased Tice Healthmart, where he remains as owner/pharmacist.
In 1972, he married Debbie Crawley of Overland Park, Kansas. They have two children: Rachel, who graduated from KU with a Bachelor Degree in Nursing, and Lance, who graduated from KU with a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering. They also have three grandchildren.
Hansen has been the Brown County Coordinator of the Kansas Honors Program for the last 30 years. He also supports the School of Pharmacy both financially, as a member of the Deans Club which raises money through its dues for student scholarships to the School of Pharmacy, and as a preceptor for first year pharmacy students.
In addition, Hansen is very active in his community and church, prompting the Kansas Pharmacists Association to select him as the recipient of the coveted Bowl of Hygeia Award in 2013 for his “outstanding civic leadership and service to his community.”
It was my pleasure to present Hansen his award and thank him for his service on behalf of KU and thousands of proud members of the KU Alumni Association.
The Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award was created in 1987 to thank alumni and friends for sustained volunteer service to the University at the local level. “Millie” award recipients are honored by the Association at special events in their communities hosted by local alumni chapters. Learn more or nominate an outstanding KU alumni local volunteer.
The “Millie” recognizes Jayhawks who have served KU as ambassadors in their local communities for 10 years or more and honors the memory of Clodfelter, b’41, for her 47 years of service to the University, including 42 years working at the Association.
Christensen, a native of Marion and a Path to Life Premium and Life Member, has helped recruit prospective students and served as the Marion County coordinator for the Kansas Honors Program since 1977.
He has volunteered as a member of Jayhawks for Higher Education, and he contributes to the Williams Education Fund for Kansas Athletics. He played football at KU and began his career as a teacher. He later joined his father in business and took over Lynn Farm Equipment, an international dealership, until his retirement in 2006.
Kevin Corbett, president of the Alumni Association, presented Christensen with the award at the McPherson Kansas Honors Program held on Sept. 24.