KU’s veteran resources flourish thanks to generosity of Jayhawks

Posted on Mar 19, 2018 in Alumni News and News

KU alumni and veterans at Kansas City's World War I museum
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.

Top-five school

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.

Corey Leach, an Olathe senior majoring in exercise science, was one of 10 KU students awarded a 2017-’18 Wounded Warrior Scholarship. Leach enlisted in the Army in 2011 and was injured the following year in Afghanistan.

“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.”

Centralized resource for students

The network also helped fund the Lt. Gen. William K. Jones Military-Affiliated Student Center, a centralized resource for more than 1,100 military-affiliated students on campus. The center opened in March 2017 in Summerfield Hall.

“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.

“It makes me really proud,” he said.

—Heather Biele

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Alumni Association presents check to KU Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund

Posted on Jan 29, 2018 in Alumni News and News

KU Alumni Association presents a check for $5,500 to KU's Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund at the Jan. 27 KU basketball game. | Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund
Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association, presented a check to KU’s Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund at halftime of the Jan. 27 KU men’s basketball game. The check represented a portion of membership dues during KU Cares Month of Service in November. The announcement read at halftime is below. Thank you to everyone who participated in KU Cares Month of Service.

“The KU Alumni Association is proud to share the results of its first KU Cares Month of Service, a new campaign encouraging Jayhawks to give back to their communities. Last November, more than 130 volunteers from 16 alumni networks nationwide donated their time and treasure to help those in need.

In addition, the Association donated $5,500 in membership dues in November to the Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to military service members, veterans, primary caregivers and surviving spouses or children who want to attend KU.

Please join us in welcoming Alumni Association President Heath Peterson as he presents a check to KU alumnus and retired Marine Corps colonel Mike Denning, director of KU’s office of graduate military studies and president of the KU Veterans Alumni Network. With Mike is Maria Santiago, a pre-engineering student who served as a Marine in 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, and her daughter, Ashley. Maria deployed to Iraq in 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom when Ashley was only 9 months old. Maria is one of eight KU students to receive a Wounded Warrior Scholarship for the 2017-’18 academic year.”

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Mike Denning, Dick Wintermote Chapter Volunteer of the Year Award recipient

Posted on Nov 21, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Mike Denning, c’83, received the Dick Wintermote award at the Veterans Alumni Chapter Senior Advisory Board dinner Nov. 15 in recognition of his leadership of the KU Veterans Alumni Chapter.

Under Denning’s guidance, the relatively new Veterans Alumni Chapter has established a Challenge Coin, the Veterans Day 5K Run, the new Chancellor John Fraser Distinguished Military Graduate Award, and support for the Wounded Warriors Scholarship Fund, along with other efforts to improve the KU experience for all veteran students and alumni.

Following his graduation, Denning entered the Marine Corps and was commissioned a second lieutenant in April 1983. His 27-year military career included three tours of duty in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan. Since 2011, he has directed the University’s Office of Graduate Military Programs.

The Wintermote award is named for Dick Wintermote, c’51, who served as the executive director of the Association from 1963 to 1983. The annual award is presented to chapter volunteers who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership during a one-year period. Other 2013 winners include Kent Colvin, assoc., of the Southwest Kansas Chapter; Steve Dillard, c’75, of the Wichita Chapter; Rita Holmes-Bobo, b’82, g’84, of the Black Alumni Chapter; and Sean O’Grady, j’04, of the Denver Chapter. The winners are profiled in issue 6, 2013, of Kansas Alumni magazine.

Randy Masten and Mike Denning, KU Veterans Alumni Chapter | www.kualumni.org

Pictured above: Randy Masten, g’03, secretary/treasurer of the Veterans Alumni Chapter, and Mike Denning, c’83, president.

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