The University of Kansas Alumni Association announced today the resignation of association President Kevin Corbett, effective July 31, 2015. Corbett, who has led the KU Alumni Association since 2004, has accepted an executive vice president position with Affiliated Builders Group (ABG) headquartered in Edmond, Okla.
“Kevin has been a great asset for the KU Alumni Association,” said Board Chair Rick Putnam. “His contributions were numerous, and as a result of his hard work and dedication, the Alumni Association is on extremely solid ground.”
In the last 10 years, the Association’s annual programs and events have grown from 70 to more than 400 worldwide. Each year, more than 50,000 alumni and friends participate in association activities, and 80 percent of these events highlight KU academic programs, student recruitment, or networking opportunities for alumni and current KU students. The Association’s Presidents Club donor program, created in 2006, now boasts more than 500 annual members whose support has helped fund the organization’s unprecedented growth. Membership in the Association has grown from 38,000 to more than 42,000.
“Under Kevin’s leadership, the KU Alumni Association has expanded programs to engage an increasing number of alumni in the life of the university, and it is a vital partner as we enhance the national reputation of KU,” noted Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the alumni of my alma mater, the University of Kansas,” said Corbett. “I am proud of the progress made during my time with KU, and believe that even greater things are on the horizon.”
Heath Peterson, Vice President of Alumni Programs, will serve as interim president to ensure a seamless transition while a search is conducted. Peterson joined the KU Alumni Association in 2005 and has been instrumental in re-establishing the Association’s presence throughout the state by recruiting a great cross-section of volunteers and spearheading the development of a number of alumni programs.
The Association’s board has established a search committee and initiated the search process.
When Alumni Association president Kevin Corbett, c’88, took the stage to welcome Jayhawk alumni and fans to the official rally before Friday’s NCAA Tournament opener in Omaha’s CenturyLink Center, he told the gathering that he and other members of the Association staff weren’t sure what to expect.
With a rally that began at 8 a.m., ahead of an 11:15 a.m. tipoff, they worried the early hour would keep fans from showing up in time for a gathering of the flock.
“And next thing we know,” Corbett noted to the crowd of about 1,000 Jayhawk faithful, “there’s a line outside the door to get in. Welcome to the Big Dance.”
The early risers soaked in the complete crimson and blue experience. With the giant inflatable Jay towering over the ballroom and D.J. Scott Simpson, ’85, cranking out the tunes, fans frolicked with Baby Jay, found themselves interviewed by television crews and scored official gear from KUStore.com, all while greeting old friends from near and far.
“We’re thrilled to have everyone back in Omaha,” said the Association board’s chair-elect Rick Putnam, c’77, l’80, a local attorney. “Every few years we get to see all of our KU friends return here for the tournament, and it’s always seems to work out well.”
The Jayhawks launched their 2008 national championship run in Omaha, and did the same on their way to the NCAA Tournament title game in 2012. Should they be fortunate enough to advance to the tourney’s second weekend three years from now, the Jayhawks could return again to Omaha, which will host NCAA regional play in 2018.
“Here we are again,” Corbett told the crowd, “ready to begin another run.”
Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, told the KU faithful about a few minutes he spent in the locker room with assistant coaches while coach Bill Self met with the media after the Jayhawks secured their 11th-consecutive Big 12 title. The coaches, Zenger said, thought back to the 72-40 drubbing by Kentucky Nov. 18; from that disappointment emerged 26 victories entering NCAA play, another outright conference championship, a trip to the Big 12 Tournament’s title game and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“The coaches said to me, ‘We’d have taken that and run,'” Zenger recalled. “What a job coach Self has done.”
Noting that KU is in its 26th-consecutive NCAA Tournament, Zenger closed with, “This is what we do, and nobody does it better.”
With the Spirit Squad and basketball band kicking the festivities into high gear, fans sang along with fight songs, the Alma Mater and, of course, the Rock Chalk Chant before descending in droves to the arena below.
The Big Dance had begun.
Check out our photos from today’s pregame party and pep rally in the slideshow below.
When Tegan Thornberry joined the staff at the KU Alumni Association, we knew we had managed to lure a valued team member away from our friends over at Kansas Athletics. Tegan, d’05, g’10, who coordinates the Flying Jayhawks travel program and Future Jayhawks membership program for the Association, is not only great at her job and just plain awesome—she also bakes. Our confectionery gain was Athletics’ loss, until we needed a meeting with Coach Self. Getting time on Coach’s calendar is tough enough, and even harder during a tight conference race.
That is, unless you come with a plate of Tegan’s baked goodness: “Coach Self will see you now.”
In all seriousness, Tegan’s arranged reunion was also an opportunity for Coach Self to help out his buddy Kevin Corbett after offering to help sing the Association’s praises. True to his word, Coach has supported the Association—Bill and Cindy Self are Joint Life Members—by attending events like the Rock Chalk Ball, Jayhawk Roundup and Salina Steak Out through the years. His office frequently contributes auction items in support of alumni programs and scholarships. So he was all too happy to go on-camera with staff videographer Dan Storey to share why he’s a Proud Member. The cookies probably didn’t hurt either.
Coach started his day with us, and he couldn’t have been more hospitable, proudly sharing some of the treasured items around his office, including those pictured below.
The Big 12 Digital Network also went behind the scenes with Coach Self for a tour of his office, which alumni can watch below. We’re thrilled to count Bill and Cindy Self among the thousands of alumni who are proud members of the KU Alumni Association.
Kevin Corbett, president of the KU Alumni Association, answered the ALS #IceBucketChallenge today after being called out by too many people to name.
The Borden Family Plaza in front of the Adams Alumni Center is named in part for Larry Borden, b’62, g’67, a former chair of the Alumni Association’s board of directors—and the one who extended the job offer of president to Kevin ten years ago. A year later, Mr. Borden passed away from ALS.
Kevin issued his own challenges after being doused by a surprise visitor with not one, but two buckets of water (that, unbeknownst to him, had been pre-chilled in the freezer at the Adams Alumni Center): Neeli Bendapudi, dean of the KU School of Business; Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment; and Morgan Said, KU student body president.
Friends, you have 24 hours to meet this challenge. Rock Chalk!
This summer’s ’Hawk Days tour includes international flair, with planned receptions in Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, Japan.
President Kevin Corbett and Danny Lewis, director of alumni programs, left Kansas City last Sunday on a jet plane headed for Seoul. They hosted a reception last night for Jayhawks in South Korea.
Unfortunately, the typhoon that is currently unleashing heavy wind and rain on Japan has caused us to cancel Friday’s reception in Tokyo. Stay safe, Jayhawks!
In the meantime, Danny and Kevin have shared photos on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to document their trip. Take a look at the Storify compilation below to see just how far the Jayhawk network reaches.
This event is part of the ‘Hawk Days of Summer, the KU Alumni Association’s annual summer sojourn across the country and around the world. The 90-day series of events resulted from a determination to make the most of the summer months. The 2014 tour kicked off on Saturday, May 17, and includes picnics, receptions, baseball games and more. Visit our online calendar to find upcoming events near you.
In gratitude for his KU education, an anonymous Jayhawk has made a $25 million gift commitment to benefit the KU Alumni Association and the University.
His estate plan calls for 80 percent of the gift to benefit the outreach programs of the Alumni Association, and 20 percent to be equally divided between support for scholarships and the Greater KU Fund, which supports the University’s greatest needs.
This would be the largest gift ever for the Association, which connects the KU family worldwide through more than 450 events annually as well as online and print communications. Eighty percent of the events highlight KU academic programs and student recruitment.
Kevin Corbett, c’88, Association president, said the gift would strengthen the University for years to come by further engaging and mobilizing graduates. “The storied success of KU has always been dependent on graduates who have been generous, and who have lent their knowledge and talents to improve the value of the KU degree,” he said. “This gift will ensure that this tradition will continue.”
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the commitment would target resources to the University’s top priorities through the Greater KU Fund and support future generations of Jayhawks through student scholarships. “This is a truly generous commitment, and one that will have long-lasting benefits,” she said.
The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the University’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising organization for KU.
The Roundup is the largest event hosted by the KU Alumni Association in Wichita, attracting hundreds of people to Murfin Stables each year for a fun evening of dinner, dancing, live and silent auctions and KU camaraderie.
Jeff Kennedy, j’81, national chair of the Board of Directors, and Patti Gorham served as this year’s Jayhawk Roundup chairpersons, leading a committee of dedicated volunteers.
Guests enjoyed a dinner sponsored by Security 1st Title and Truffles, followed by remarks from Kevin Corbett, president; Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little; and Lynn Loveland, assistant director of Wichita programs for the Alumni Association.
The silent auction was open throughout the evening, while live bidding for items such as a one-hour ride in a Beechcraft T-6 trainer and dinner with Sheahon Zenger and John Hadl began after dinner.
Another interesting item in the auction? An 11-foot American alligator. We’re not kidding– Presidents Club member Colette Kocour, c’73, who served on the decorations committee for the Roundup, was determined to find a great item for the auction this year. She made a call to Dr. Leonard Krishtalka, director of the Biodiversity Institute and professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and his staff members found the scaly, stuffed creature.
The story was chronicled by Kocour’s hometown newspaper, the Wellington Daily News. Click here to read the full story.
After the auction ended, Jayhawks kicked up their heels (or boots) and danced to music from Monster Entertainment until midnight.
Proceeds from the Jayhawk Roundup help enhance alumni programs, including student recruitment, career networking and the alumni lobbying program, Jayhawks for Higher Education.
Stay tuned for information about next year’s event! If you are interested in becoming a sponsoring or helping with the event, contact Lynn Loveland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 316.293.2621.
Watch the slideshow below to see pictures from this year’s Roundup, or click here to view the photos on Flickr.
Fifth-generation KU freshman Marlow Reese, from Brentwood, Tenn., acknowledges that her family tradition strongly influenced her choice of KU. But the deciding factor? “The Alumni Association,” she says. “I received a lot of personal attention throughout the recruitment process, and it really helped.”
Another helpful nudge came in the form of a Jayhawk Generations Scholarship, KU’s four-year, renewable partial tuition waivers for academically qualifying out-of-state students from Jayhawk families. To celebrate the fifth year of the program, the Association hosted a dinner Oct. 29 for 65 Jayhawk Generations Scholars from 19 states. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Association President Kevin Corbett, c’88, greeted the students, and Joy Maxwell, c’03, j’03, the Association’s director of legacy relations, introduced each student and shared the history of the legacy scholarship, which the Association and KU leaders created in 2009 with approval from the Kansas Legislature. “The goal was very simple,” she explained, “ to give legacy students as much assistance as possible to carry on the KU tradition. You see, the KU Alumni Association wants you here just as much as your parents or grandparents do.” She urged the students to become involved in the Student Alumni Association, which offers opportunities for students to connect with alumni: “It’s never too early to begin networking,” she said.
The Association hosts a dinner each fall for the scholars; 218 are on campus this year. Since fall 2009, the program has steadily grown, from 43 freshman scholars in 2009 to 134 freshman recipients in fall 2013. The deadline for fall 2014 scholarship consideration has been extended to Nov. 8.
The KU football team won their season opener at home last weekend, and this Saturday they’re heading to Houston for the first road game of the season.
The last time the team won a road game was back in September, 2009, when KU beat UTEP. We’re hoping for a great alumni turnout this weekend when that streak is broken!
There are more than 15,000 Jayhawks in the state of Texas, with more than 3,500 alone in the Houston area. The Houston Chapter is one of the strongest KU Alumni Association chapters in the nation, and their members have actively been encouraging other alumni and fans to attend the game.
The Alumni Association is hosting a tailgate in the northeast corner of the football stadium next to the practice fields. The event starts at 3 p.m. and includes a barbecue lunch and a cash bar. More than 300 Jayhawks have already registered for the tailgate; if you want to join them, be sure to register by noon today so we can make sure there’s enough food.
Life Members Bill, e’70, and Gail Hutchings, ’70, urge fans to support the team and take advantage of the opportunity of an affordable, family-friendly outing. They are taking their daughter and her family to the game, where they’re also meeting up with friends from Waco. “If we can get more people out, and I know we’re more vocal, I think it could really help and make a difference!” Bill said.
We agree. Rock Chalk!
Kevin Corbett, president of the Alumni Association, spoke to the Lawrence Journal-World earlier this week about efforts to promote the game to alumni. Click here to read the article. For ticket information, click here.
KU Alumni Association members received an email this week that shared exciting news about Homecoming 2013– this year’s Homecoming Parade is moving to downtown Lawrence! The parade will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3.
Colorful floats depicting this year’s theme, “Jayhawks Around the World,” will travel north down Massachusetts St., along with the Spirit Squad and Marching Jayhawks. Following the parade, the celebration will continue with a pep rally on Eight Street between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, a popular spot for block parties.
A new night
You might be asking, “Why Thursday?” Well, if you’re a basketball fan, you’ve likely heard that Late Night in the Phog, the annual first look at the men’s and women’s basketball teams, is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 4– coinciding with Homecoming weekend. The NCAA moved the start of fall men’s basketball practice up by two weeks, which allowed for an earlier time slot for Late Night.
Last year’s Homecoming Parade was held on Friday night of Homecoming weekend, but with 16,000 KU students, alumni and fans descending on Mount Oread for Late Night–many of them waiting in line at the doors for hours– a Friday night parade on campus just isn’t feasible.
For a number of years, the parade was held on Saturday before the Homecoming football game. However, because kickoff time often isn’t announced until a week or two before the game, planning a parade is difficult, and an early kickoff time often results in a parade at 8 a.m.
So, this year’s Homecoming Steering Committee got creative and considered a variety of options before settling on Thursday night and deciding to move downtown, with the hope that more Lawrence community members will participate.
Holding the Homecoming Parade off campus is not unprecedented. From 1984 to 1990, the parade was held downtown, and it moved back to Jayhawk Boulevard in 1991.
And yes, local Lawrencians, we are fully aware that downtown is the site of another event on Oct. 3– the seventh annual Zombie Walk.
“We are eager to welcome the community to the Homecoming Parade on Mass Street,” says Kevin Corbett, c’88, president of the KU Alumni Association. “After talking with our KU colleagues, downtown leaders and the organizers of the zombie event, we are all confident that KU’s 101-year-old Homecoming tradition and the Zombie Walk can share downtown on Oct. 3 and welcome those who are fans of the Jayhawks, zombies or both.”
Join us downtown for what’s sure to be a fun and interesting Homecoming celebration– after all, variety is what makes Lawrence, and especially downtown, a place we all treasure!
The KU Alumni Association and the student-led Homecoming steering committee have planned a week of events from Sunday, Sept. 29, through Saturday, Oct. 5, concluding with the Homecoming football game featuring KU vs. Texas Tech Oct. 5 in Memorial Stadium. Visit www.kualumni.org/homecoming to view a daily schedule, meet the steering committee and learn more about KU’s Homecoming tradition.