Boston Tragedy

Posted on Apr 16, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Following the tragic events that occurred this week at the Boston Marathon when two bombs exploded near the finish line, KU alumni have been sharing their first-hand experiences and perspectives:

  • img_rm_bostonSeveral KU alumni attended either as runners or spectators, including Clifton Railsback, e’97, a former KU distance runner, and Tiffany Francis, who is married to KU soccer coach Mark Francis. Peter Johnston, c’94, l’97, and his wife Sara, c’96, m’00, of Salina, also traveled to Boston with friends and fellow KU alumni Chris Rupe, c’00, m’04, and his wife Abby, c’01, m’05 (pictured together here).
  • Chris, a Salina surgeon, finished seconds before the first bomb exploded and rushed to assist medics on the scene. His story of heroism was reported locally in the Salina Journal and nationally by
  • Ramsey Mohsen, b’05, a Kansas City blogger and social media director, tweeted and blogged from Boston while there to support his girlfriend, Ali Hatfield, who also blogged about her experience. Mohsen’s blog includes a tweet-by-tweet accounting (pictured at right).
  • Another runner was School of Journalism alumna Colleen McCain Nelson, j’97, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Washington, D.C. Nelson, who was editor of the University Daily Kansan while at KU, finished the marathon just before the bombing, and her personal account was published in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. (Members might recall our feature story on Nelson in Kansas Alumni, issue 3, 2010.)
  • In Lawrence, many KU students joined an estimated 100 local runners in a “Run for Boston” event—similar to those taking place around the country—at South Park organized by KU alumnus Jon King, l’93.
  • Kansas City PR executive, Mike Swenson, j’76, posted this professional perspective on crisis communications and the news coverage that follows events like the tragedy in Boston.
  • Former KU basketball player Paul Pierce, ’98, (@PaulPierce34), who plays now for the Boston Celtics, shared this tweet with followers: “My prayers go out to everybody affected by yesterday. Boston, let’s come back stronger.”

These alumni join all of us in support of those affected.

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Alumni advertising pros weigh-in

Posted on Feb 3, 2013 in Alumni News and News


While watching the big game Sunday, KU alumni may take an interest in some of the most expensive commercials ever to run on television. Graduates of KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication are well-skilled in the art of advertising, so it is highly likely some Jayhawks have had a hand in some of the ads you may see on Sunday. Two veterans of the ad world recently weighed-in on the upcoming game with a preview and a prediction.

The prediction—more of a wish really—comes from Mike Swenson, j’78, president of Crossroads in Kansas City, which lists “cause marketing” among its specialties. Swenson asked what might happen if a Super Bowl advertiser with enough money to buy four spots during the big game would instead buy one spot to promote a cause, and donate the remaining millions to that cause. “Then imagine what a Super Bowl five years down the road might look like if it started a trend and think of all the good that could come of that approach” he wondered in a recent blog post.

The preview comes courtesy of Mike Goff, j’76, who oversaw Super Bowl-sized ad buys for Sprint and now serves as chief marketing officer for Premier Sports Management in Kansas City. Citing Advertising Age as his source, Goff encourages alumni viewers to look out for anticipated spots from Audi, Volkswagon, Crysler and Kia, among other automakers. Don’t forget, the game is being played in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. “Perhaps naturally we’ll then hear the sound of Jon Hamm’s voice-over in one Mercedes spot in the game’s fourth quarter” Goff says about the tiger alum-turned-actor/pitchman. Other advertising mainstays, like Coca-Cola and Disney, also plan to make an appearance, along with Taco Bell and Frito-Lay, with Doritos planning a seventh straight “Crash the Super Bowl” contest. No matter what happens on the field, at least the commercials promise to be entertaining!

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