The KU Alumni Association and KU Endowment welcomed more than 100 veterans, alumni, students and military family members March 13 for a donor appreciation event at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City.
Jayhawks gathered on the Paul Sunderland Glass Bridge, a stunning structure suspended over a field of 9,000 poppies, symbolic of the 9 million who perished in the war, before touring the museum and the Wylie Gallery, which currently features John Singer Sargent’s powerful masterpiece, “Gassed,” as part of a limited centennial exhibition.
University leaders attend
Several University leaders participated in the event, including Chancellor Douglas Girod, a former Naval surgeon; Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Reggie Robinson, c’80, l’87, who served in the Army; and retired Marine Corps. Col. Mike Denning, c’83, director of KU’s graduate military program and president of the Veterans Alumni Network.
Before delivering opening remarks, Denning playfully teased the crowd. “I have to admit,” he joked. “I think the Marines are probably outnumbering everybody else about five to one.”
Though Marines may have dominated the event in attendance, representatives from each branch of service turned out, including retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mike Flowers, c’77, an Alumni Association board member, and Col. Bob Ulin, g’79. Both men serve on the advisory board for the Veterans Alumni Network.
This year, KU was named the No. 5 school for veterans by the Military Times, up five spots from its top-10 ranking in 2016 and 2017. The Veterans Alumni Network has been instrumental in strengthening several resources for military students and veterans, including the Wounded Warriors Scholarship Fund, which since 2012 has provided $200,000 to military service members, veterans, primary caregivers and surviving spouses or children who want to attend KU.
“The scholarship offered me a chance to actually be a student for the first time,” said Leach, a first-generation student. “It gave me access to advisers, mentors and the opportunity to network with other veterans who had the same experiences I did while I was in the military. I’m very thankful for that.”
“As soon as you walk in there, it’s like you’re back in the service,” said JR Cadwallader, b’18, a Marine Corps veteran and past president of KU’s Student Veterans of America. “It’s like you’re at home with some of your greatest friends again.”
Chancellor Girod applauded Jayhawks for their generosity and commitment to funding programs like the Wounded Warrior Scholarship and the military-affiliated student center, emphasizing how critical these services are to military students and their families.
“You heard the students talk about how [the center] has become a core site and a home for our students—a very comforting home,” he said. “But more important, a lot of services take place in that center.”
Jeff Larkin, c’06, a Lawrence dentist who served in the Air Force, attended the event with his wife and daughter. He was pleased to learn his alma mater had established itself nationally as a top-ranking institution for military students and veterans.
During One Day. One KU., the university’s first 24-hour giving campaign, donors gave 1,896 gifts totaling $734,421, creating opportunities for more Jayhawks in the state, the nation and beyond.
The successful One Day. One KU. campaign on Feb. 20 brought alumni, students and friends together to raise funds for schools and units on every campus at the University of Kansas. The campaign recorded an all-time high number of gifts in one day.
“To all who gave, my sincerest appreciation for your gift,” Chancellor Douglas A. Girod said. “Donors support KU because they believe in the work the university does to improve our state and society. Gifts made during One Day. One KU. will help turn ideas into reality for generations of Jayhawks.”
Matching gifts and challenges of more than $230,000 established before Feb. 20 helped spur donations from every corner of the KU community during the 24-hour window.
“One Day. One KU. showcased the power of connection to inspire giving,” said Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment. “The 24-hour campaign gave donors the chance to see how their gifts contributed to a larger total in real time.”
Challenges ranged from hundreds of dollars to $25,000 matching gifts from the medical community in Wichita — and one challenge unlocked $40,000 with 50 gifts for study abroad scholarships.
Gifts came in all sizes and with layers of meaning. A $220 gift signified the importance of Feb. 20. A walk-in donor gave a total of $8,500 to several programs that were meaningful to her. Donors left heartfelt messages on social media throughout the day about how KU made a difference in their lives.
The Alumni Association raised $31,619 from 108 gifts. Contributions will support the Association’s Jayhawk Career Network, a comprehensive initiative to connect current KU students with alumni, and alumni with one another, in numerous professional fields.
KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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, 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.