Sheer joy and gratitude beamed from University legend Richard Schiefelbusch and the faces of more than 100 celebrants July 28, when KU’s guiding light of teaching and research in human development marked his 100th birthday. His daughter Jeanie Schiefelbusch and the Alumni Association hosted the afternoon event at the Adams Alumni Center.
Dick Schiefelbusch, g’47, became a pioneer in the study of speech, language and hearing after surviving two years in a World War II German prison camp, where he found his calling: a life and career dedicated to helping others. He established KU’s Speech Language Hearing clinic, which bears his name, and for more than 50 years served as a mentor to some of KU’s most accomplished researchers, many of whom attended the party. Schiefelbusch, who grew up on an Osawatomie farm and attended a one-room schoolhouse, earned numerous honors throughout his career, including the Distinguished Service Citation from the Alumni Association and KU. The University’s renowned Institute for Life Span Studies is also named for him.
Seated in front of an array of flags presented by KU’s ROTC units, Schiefelbusch laughed, smiled and made silly faces for countless photos as well-wishers took turns greeting him. A sign on the dessert table hailed him as “The Wise Man of the Prairie” as his three children and representatives from KU’s Veterans Alumni Network (VAN), the Kansas National Guard, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Haskell Indian Nations University shared tributes. Mike Denning, c’83, director of military graduate studies at KU and president of the VAN, presented Schiefelbusch a framed commemorative challenge coin, and Randy Masten, g’03, assistant director of military graduate studies and secretary of the VAN, read a congratulatory letter from fellow WWII veteran Sen. Bob Dole, ’45, who turned 95 the day before Schiefelbusch turned 100.
Daughter Carol Schiefelbusch McMillin, ’79, said Dole’s letter was especially touching because the longtime Kansas senator, who suffered grave battle wounds in Italy during WWII, had long championed the research led by Schiefelbusch and other KU scholars. “It just means the world, because his support was so important to Dad’s work and the work of so many others,” she said. In the 1980s, Dole helped secure federal research funding for KU, including a pivotal $9 million grant, and later that decade KU dedicated the Robert J. Dole Human Development Center on Sunnyside Avenue to honor his leadership.
Jeanie, d’80, g’90, said she is grateful “every single day” to her dad, and her brother, Lary, c’65, g’65, described his father’s gratitude to the German citizens who rescued him from the Baltic Sea after his fighter plane was shot down. He echoed his sister’s praise for their dad. “I never knew him to fail me, and I never knew him to falter in his support,” he said. “He gave us something to reach for, but there was never pressure. … He always spoke well of the people he worked with, and he always taught us the importance of collaboration, collaboration, collaboration.” As he repeated one of his father’s favorite words, the crowd joined in the refrain.
When it was his turn to speak, the guest of honor heaped praise on others. “It seems to me that I’ve arrived in the right place in the United States and this world to live my life,” Schiefelbusch declared, “in the company of such helpful people, such rewarding people, such creative people. It is a privilege to be right where I am.”
Sir, the privilege is all ours.
Dick Schiefelbusch graced the cover of Issue No. 6, 2009 of Kansas Alumni magazine for a feature story by Julie Mettenburg titled The Particular Genius of Richard Schiefelbusch.
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.
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.”
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.
Pictured above: Randy Masten, g’03, secretary/treasurer of the Veterans Alumni Chapter, and Mike Denning, c’83, president.