KU unites in support for Houston

Posted on Sep 7, 2017 in Alumni News and News

The KU Alumni Association partnered with the University of Kansas, Kansas Athletics, Inc., and KU Endowment in support of a “Houston Strong” initiative. At the Sept. 2 KU football game, flyers were distributed to fans and a video featuring Chancellor Girod, Coach Bill Self and Coach David Beaty was shown:


Organizations featured as suggested donation options included:

Team Rubicon: Uniting the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.

Save the Children: Providing supplies and services for children and their families.

Texas SPCA: Providing food and shelter for lost and displaced animals.

Greater Houston Community Foundation’s Hurricane Harvey Relief: A general fund established by the Houston mayor and county judge.

Kansas Athletics also announced a donation drive will be held at football, soccer and volleyball home games in September.

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Top Ten KU stories of 2016

Posted on Dec 21, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Top 10 stories of 2016 via kualumni.org

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 share@kualumni.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!

–David Johnston





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KU student delivers keynote at fraternity’s national convention

Posted on Oct 3, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Tom Babb
KU student Tom Babb delivered a keynote address at the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity’s 177th General Convention in Oklahoma City in August. Tom was paralyzed while swimming in the ocean during a family vacation to Hawaii his freshman year.

Before taking the stage, Tom was introduced by his sister Claire, who shared the story of Tom’s accident and the influential role the fraternity played in his recovery. Claire even admitted her initial jealousy of Tom’s new fraternity brothers shortly after her brother arrived at KU in the fall of 2015. Once immersed in life at KU as a Beta pledge, she felt that he had become too busy to return her calls, and she wondered whether the fraternity was right for him. “Who did those boys think that they were,” she shared in her remarks, “to call my brother their brother?” After the accident, however, the constant support and camaraderie sparked Tom’s recovery and gave him renewed energy to face what he called his “new normal.”

Although it is nearly impossible to watch with a dry eye, the story will warm the hearts of KU alumni.

Watch the video here.

Tom is already back at KU enrolled as a student and living in the Beta house, which was renovated during the summer to better accommodate Tom’s disability. His fraternity brothers also held a fundraiser in the spring to support future KU students with disabilities. The TomStrong 5k raised more than $47,000 for the Tom Babb Student Accessibility Scholarship.

For the fraternity’s efforts, the Alpha Nu chapter of Beta Theta Pi was recently awarded the Mary Ann Rasnak Access Champion Award by KU’s Academic Achievement and Access Center. The award, recognizing significant contributions to campus and classroom accessibility, is named for the center’s former director. Though typically awarded to an individual, this marked the first time an organization has won the Rasnak Award.

Contributions to the Tom Babb Student Accessibility Scholarship Fund can be made to KU Endowment.

–David Johnston

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KU Endowment announces results of Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas

Posted on Aug 2, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Far Above: The Campaign for KansasThe 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, according to KU Endowment. The campaign, which ended June 30, boosted student support, faculty, facilities and programs at the University of Kansas and The University of Kansas Hospital.

Among the campaign’s notable accomplishments were 735 new scholarships and fellowships, 53 new professorships and 16 new buildings or major renovations. Others included achieving National Cancer Institute designation and strengthening a wide range of pioneering academic and research programs.

Fundraising for the campaign began in July 2008, in the middle of the Great Recession, and it had a public kickoff in April 2012. More than 131,000 donors—49 percent of them new donors—from all 50 states and 59 countries made gifts.

“The success of Far Above is a testament to the confidence our alumni and friends have in KU,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “Every gift sent a message that our donors want to elevate KU to greater heights. Their generosity touched virtually every aspect of the university by funding new facilities, supporting future leaders and enabling our faculty to push the bounds of discovery.”

Read the full announcement from KU Endowment.

Additional Resources

More info about Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas at farabove.org.
Learn more about the KU Alumni Association’s Presidents Club
Make a gift to the University of Kansas or the KU Alumni Association.

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University mourns former chancellor

Posted on Aug 1, 2015 in Alumni News and News

Robert E. Hemenway, who served as KU’s 16th chancellor from 1995 to 2009, died Friday at the age of 73. KU posted a statement from Chancellor Gray-Little to its Facebook page on Saturday.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chancellor Hemenway,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “Chancellor Hemenway was a visionary leader who guided the University of Kansas to unprecedented heights and successes during his time here. Under his leadership, the university made tremendous strides in how we educate students, conduct research, and serve the people of Kansas. I know I can speak for the entire KU community in saying we owe him a debt of gratitude, for the work he did paved the way for so much of the great work we’re doing today. Most importantly, Bob was a wonderful man who loved his job, loved the people around him, and loved this place — and he was loved in return. On behalf of the entire university, I extend my condolences to Chancellor Hemenway’s family and friends.”

The KU Alumni Association honored Hemenway in 2012 with the Fred Ellsworth Medallion, its highest honor. A tribute video from that event is embedded below and available on YouTube.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, a memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9 at the Dole Institute of Politics. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Robert E. Hemenway Scholarship fund at KU. Gifts may be sent in care of KU Endowment, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, 66044.

–David Johnston

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Gift of $58 million pushes KU campaign beyond $1.2 billion goal

Posted on Dec 9, 2014 in Alumni News and News

Chancellor speaks about Endowment gift | www.kualumni.org
University leaders gathered Dec. 9 to celebrate a historic estate gift of $58 million from Madison “Al” Self, e’43, and his wife, Lila, ’43. The late couple’s total giving to KU since 1989 is a phenomenal $106 million, a record among private donors in the history of KU. Two dozen Self family members attended the ceremony in the Adams Alumni Center.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little hailed the day as transformational in the history of the University. The Selfs’ generosity, she said, grew from “the conviction that there is no greater investment than in the development of student leadership excellence.”

The Selfs’ final gift includes $39 million for the Self Graduate Fellowship Fund for doctoral students in STEM disciplines, business and economics; and $15 million for the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Program, which benefits engineering and computing undergraduate students. The remaining $4 million establishes a new Self Graduating Senior Fellowship Fund to recognize graduating seniors who have shown exceptional tenacity in their achievements.

Al Self came to KU from his family’s farm in Meriden and met Lila, who came from the Fall Leaf community near Eudora. They married in the summer of 1943, following his graduation with a chemical engineering degree. In 1947, the Selfs acquired Bee Chemical Co. in Lansing, Illinois. Al guided the firm from a three-person operation to an international producer of polymers and polymer coatings for use on plastics. When they sold the company 37 years later, it had five U.S. manufacturing sites and operations in Japan and England.

The Selfs died in 2013, Al in January and Lila in November, both at the age of 91. Their record-setting bequest has helped KU Endowment surpass its $1.2 billion goal for Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas. Kurt Watson, d’75, who with his wife, Sue, d’75, chairs the campaign for KU Endowment, announced that the campaign has raised $1.218 billion.

“But we’re not done yet. We said the campaign was going to run until 2016 and that’s just what we’re going to do,” Watson said. “We’ve accomplished a great deal, but many, many of our imperatives remain. For the campaign’s duration, we will encourage donors to support KU’s most precious resource, and that is our people.

“We will seek additional funds for scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students, and we will seek additional funds for faculty and professional support. We will continue the campaign to take KU Far Above.”

—Jennifer Jackson Sanner

Watch the slideshow below for more photos from today’s event.


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More ice buckets; ALS research taking place at KU

Posted on Aug 26, 2014 in Alumni News and News

Notable members of the KU community have ceremoniously been drenched with buckets of ice water in an attempt to help raise awareness and money for the ALS Association, a national non-profit organization dedicated to fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease—most recently, the KU men’s basketball team accepted Coach Self’s challenge.

As of yesterday, the ALS Association reports that donations have topped $88 million dollars, with the donations coming from existing donors and more than 1.9 million new donors to the organization.

Did you know that ALS research is taking place at KU? According to Andy Hyland, translational medicine communications coordinator at the University of Kansas Medical Center, an ongoing study at the medical center is enrolling patients at ten different sites across the country. The study examines the use of the drug rasagiline, which is already approved for use in Parkinson’s disease, in patients with ALS.

Richard J. Barohn, M.D., distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Neurology, has treated patients with ALS for decades and serves as the principal investigator on the study, which is partially funded by the ALS Association. Dr. Barohn’s research focuses on neuromuscular diseases, and he was featured in a Kansas City Business Journal article last week.

To donate directly to ALS research at KU, visit www.kuendowment.org/neurology.

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Anonymous Jayhawk makes gift commitment

Posted on Apr 24, 2014 in Alumni News and News

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.

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Alumnus helps others find fun at work

Posted on May 24, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Joel Zeff, j’90, finds fun in every workplace environment. He is a dynamic public speaker who inspires his audiences to search for fun and passion in their everyday work.

“I use improv to talk about teamwork, innovation, communication and leadership.   All the choices you encounter in improv games are the same choices to make a successful organization.”

Zeff, who was profiled in issue No. 3, 2008, of Kansas Alumni magazine, returned to campus Thursday to engage the KU Endowment staff with his unique perspective on finding success through improvisation. Turns out his sense of fun dates back to his days at KU, when he helped create a long-standing Kansas basketball tradition.

Inspired by a picture in a friend’s high school yearbook, Zeff decided to try something new at Allen Field House.

“There was a picture of kids holding up newspapers at a game.   I asked what it was and he said, ‘We used to hold up newspapers when they announced the opposing team.’ I said, ‘We should do that!’

“It was the 1986-’87 season, and we brought a big stack of Kansans and handed them out.   We had a big group of people at the game, and that’s where we started holding up the newspapers for the opposing team and then ripping them up.   And then we did it from then on.

“That’s the story I tell my children, and will tell my grandchildren.”

–Dan Storey

Joel Zeff | www.kualumni.org

Photo by Dan Storey

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Capitol Federal Foundation commits $20 million toward KU School of Business building

Posted on Oct 4, 2012 in Alumni News and News

Capitol Federal Foundation of Topeka has committed a $20 million lead gift toward construction of a new School of Business building at the University of Kansas.

The gift is part of Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive campaign. KU Endowment is working with alumni and friends to complete private funding for the building, which is expected to cost about $60 million.

This is the largest single gift the Capitol Federal Foundation has made. “An outstanding School of Business is an integral part of every university,” said John B. Dicus, chairman, president and CEO of Capitol Federal Savings. “We’re proud to play a role in making this building a reality. With this gift, we are giving students at the University of Kansas the opportunities they need to be successful in the business world.”

John B. Dicus earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from KU in 1983 and 1985 respectively. His father, John C. Dicus, chairman emeritus of Capitol Federal Savings, earned a bachelor’s degree in business from KU in 1955.

“A great school of business deserves a great place to do business,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “Thanks to the generosity of the Capitol Federal Foundation, the KU School of Business will be able to compete with any business school in the world when it comes to having a modern facility to educate the leaders and entrepreneurs our communities need to grow and prosper.”

Neeli Bendapudi, dean of the KU School of Business, said business education must adapt to the rapid changes in the business landscape. “This gift will help create an environment that fosters innovation in business education and research and attracts top students and faculty,” she said. “Capitol Federal Foundation’s transformative gift is an investment in ensuring that our students and our state will be competitive in the global marketplace.”

The six-story, 166,000-square-foot building will be located on the east side of Naismith Drive, across from Allen Fieldhouse at the south entrance of the campus. It will feature the newest technology, modern learning labs, auditoria and space for collaboration and research. A conceptual rendering has been submitted, and a completion date will be determined once additional funding is secured.

The new School of Business facility will be located south of Robinson Health and Physical Education Center, where tennis courts currently are located; the university will build new tennis courts at another location that has not been finalized.

Summerfield Hall, the current home of the School of Business, cannot accommodate future growth or meet the needs of the current business world. About 25 percent of incoming KU freshmen express an interest in majoring in business. The new facility is expected to boost annual KU business graduates from 500 to 750 in the undergraduate program, and from 280 to 350 in the graduate program.

The 95,000-square-foot Summerfield Hall, which opened in 1960, will house other units, which will be determined by the university at a future date.

The Dicus family has deep ties to KU. Other KU alumni include John B. Dicus’ late grandfather, Henry A. Bubb; his mother, the late Betty Bubb Dicus; his sister, Debra Dicus Kennedy, and his wife, Brenda Roskens Dicus.

Henry A. Bubb and John C. Dicus received the Fred Ellsworth Medallion in 1977 and 1990 respectively, and the university honored Henry with a Distinguished Service Citation in 1965. Like his father and grandfather, John B. Dicus serves on the KU Endowment Board of Trustees. He also served as a member of the Far Above campaign organizing committee. John C. Dicus is a KU Endowment Life Trustee.

Capitol Federal Foundation was established to benefit the communities in which Capitol Federal operates. The foundation is committed to improving the quality of life in these communities by investing in the citizens of today and tomorrow. The foundation’s previous gifts for the School of Business include establishment of the Capitol Federal Distinguished Professorship in Financial Markets. Moreover, they have supported The University of Kansas Cancer Center, scholarships for student athletes, the Lied Center of Kansas and Spencer Museum of Art, to name a few.

Read more from KU Endowment and the KU School of Business.

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