“As new Jayhawks arrive on the Hill, it’s hard not to get nostalgic about our four years.”
Before Ben Brodsky walked down the Hill last May, he could sense it was coming. That feeling of nostalgia that all alumni understand was becoming all too real, and Brodsky, c’17, wanted to hit save and preserve his time at KU. Fortunately, the talented film and media studies major had shot hours of footage during his time on campus; timeless scenes that also captured a place in time.
His memories. His journey. But one with which we could all relate.
Brodsky got right to work, even before walking down the Hill. With the help of his twin brother Sam, b’17, he founded Ben Brodsky Films and Photography in 2013, applying his talents and education to projects for clients. As his commencement loomed, one project became more personal.
The result of the effort that he began as a student and finished as an alumnus, was a three-minute and forty-two-second video that was posted on social media this week, as students returned to the Hill to start the fall semester. Almost immediately the video became a viral sensation, with views topping 100,000 in the first three days.
Naturally, this time of year makes all of us remember what it was like heading off to college.
“Feels like yesterday I was jumping out of the mini van, unloading my college dorm room onto the hot Kansas pavement,” Brodsky posted on YouTube. “I remember my mom telling me ‘these are the best 4 years of your life, enjoy every minute of them!'”
Brodsky offered his own advice to freshmen flocking to the Hill.
“To all incoming Jayhawks,” he added, “experience everything you can; there is no limit to what you can do.” On Facebook, he added a shared sentiment.
“New Jayhawks, we hope you love this place as much as we do.”
Brodsky could have been referring to all alumni when we said “we,” but in this case, it was a nod to his project partner and collaborator, Amie Just, j’17, who scripted the video. Her words, which resonate with all Jayhawks, constitute a poem she calls, simply, “Home.” (Read our interview with Amie Just here.)
We love the combination of moving images and words that so beautifully capture the KU experience, drawing us closer together and to our beloved alma mater.
“Through the good times and the stressful ones,” he concludes, “KU was, and will always be, home.”
As KU’s construction of the new Central District continues, the anchor tenant is now ready for the public. On August 17, Cora Downs Residence Hall opened to welcome the newest generation of Jayhawks.
KU Student Housing’s biggest day of the year went off without a hitch, thanks to a small army of student volunteers helping direct traffic, unload cars, and move items up to new students’ rooms.
“I volunteered at Oliver Hall last year, nine floors with two elevators meant huge lines. Downs is a lot more efficient,” said junior Jayden Garetson. “We’re all here from various campus organizations to help out, and we even have some freshmen who moved in yesterday too.”
Volunteers appreciated the smooth-running system, and even the most move-in day experienced parents couldn’t help but be surprised. “We have moved six kids into college, and KU has the easiest, most efficient, and organized move-in we have ever done,” Sally Ahlgren said.
Beyond the move-in, The Ahlgrens knew they were leaving their daughter Maryclaire in good hands at Downs Hall. “We’ve certainly noticed the friendliness of the students here,” Bob Ahlgren said. “We’ve been to a lot of universities and can tell right away. This is a good group of people, we can feel that.”
Downs Hall is named for Dr. Cora Downs, c’15 g’20 PhD’24, a lifetime Jayhawk. Downs received her undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate degrees from KU, and served as an instructor and faculty member until her retirement in 1963. The only break in her service to the University was to serve the country, when Downs spent World War II leading 40 scientists on secret biological warfare research. Honors given to Downs include a Distinguished Service Citation in 1962, induction into the KU Women’s Hall of Fame in 1970, and being named a Pioneer Woman by the Emily Taylor Center in 2008.
Located at 19th and Naismith, Downs Hall holds 545 residents and is directly west of Oliver Hall, with the new South Dining Commons connecting the two residence halls. Four different floor plans are offered, which can be viewed below. Floor plans courtesy of housing.ku.edu.
On Sunday, August 14, we tagged along with the McKee family for move-in day. Julie McKee, c’87, and her husband Mark, b’83, helped their second daughter, Chandler, move into Corbin Hall, and little sister Brooke was along for the adventure. KU announced earlier this year that Corbin Hall will be restored and renovated in 2017.
Julie McKee, c’87, walked into Corbin Hall and was immediately taken back in time. A few years had passed, of course, and her three daughters were a reminder of the passage of time. Corbin had changed some too, of course. The decorations and some of the furniture were different, but much of the historic building was exactly as she remembered, including the atmosphere- a familiar mix of excitement and uncertainty that comes with a life-changing moment, like going off to college.
Welcome to move-in day.
For more than 90 years, Corbin Hall has served as the largest female-only residence hall for undergraduates at the University of Kansas, which means multiple generations of Jayhawks, like the McKees, have lived there. Corbin was the first home-away-from-home for countless KU alumni, and a new crop of eager freshmen moved in August 14. However, this year’s group of girls will have a unique experience compared to those who will follow; they will live in the same Corbin Hall inhabited by their mothers and grandmothers, and they’ll be the last class to do so.
Earlier this year, KU announced plans to close Corbin in 2017 so renovations–and restorations–can be made to the aging facility. Upgrades to plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems will be made at a cost of around $13.5 million, improving all student rooms, restrooms, public spaces and the entryway. Corbin is scheduled to reopen in 2018. That made this year’s move-in day a special occasion, especially for those who once lived in Corbin. The next group to move in, once restoration and improvements are complete, will experience a much more modern facility that retains all the architectural charm this historic KU building has to offer.
Originally built in 1923, Corbin was extended in 1951 with the addition of the north building. It has been updated through the years, but the structure and layout have remained largely unchanged, which former residents will recall. You might tell a fellow Jayhawk you lived in Corbin. A woman would know to ask “north or south?”
Each wing was known for its quirks and its own culture, history and personality. A bond was created among the girls on each floor that survived bid day, bad dates and changed majors.
Julie McKee, her husband Mark, b’83, helped their daughter unload, unpack and decorate her room with fresh new bedding before speaking with us about their family’s move-in day experience, which was admittedly bittersweet. Chandler McKee, like most KU freshmen, radiated optimism, knowing it was finally her turn to be a Jayhawk.
And her new address would be 420 West 11th Street, better known as Corbin Hall.
Clear blue skies, bountiful sunshine and nearly record-setting temperatures in the low 70s set the stage for a successful move-in day Aug. 20 as thousands of students and their families and friends descended on Mount Oread.
On Daisy Hill, KU Housing staff were on hand to guide the procession of cars from the Lied Center to the residence halls, where several teams of volunteers helped unload carloads of belongings and deliver them to each student’s assigned suite.
“The process is very, very organized,” says Kim Rupe, of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, whose son, Kaleb, is moving into the brand-new Oswald Hall. “It takes some of the anxiety away. It’s really nice.”
Move-in day kicks off the start of ’Hawk Week, a series of events designed to welcome students to the Hill and prepare them for a successful semester. On Saturday, the Student Alumni Association will host ’Hawkfest, right before Traditions Night.