The KU Alumni Association’s summer on the road continues! The alumni networks team has visited Jayhawks in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and most recently, Omaha.
Omaha is home to 1,700 alumni, including network leader Holly Currie. Currie, c’09, g’10, organizes watch parties for KU games at the Good Life Bar and Grill. “The watch parties and the network have grown exponentially with Holly,” said Grace Knott, h’78. “She chose a great location.”
The happy hour brought together Omaha residents of all ages and levels of knowledge about their city. Knott has lived in Omaha for 40 years, while Ashlee Duffy, c’01, just moved to the city from Alabama this month.
The trips are part of a summer-long effort to encourage Jayhawks to volunteer in their local networks. “The best kind of event you can organize is one you are passionate about,” said Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs.
More trips are in store, with Woods visiting Oklahoma City and Tulsa next week.
Check out the KU Alumni Association calendar for more upcoming events. For more on how to volunteer in your network and the types of events you can help coordinate, visit the network volunteer page.
Before our staff members hit the road to the Sweet 16 in style in the Jayhawk car—courtesy of our postseason partner, Crown Toyota of Lawrence—they posed for a picture with the iconic ride.
Omaha, the site of the KU basketball team’s matchup tonight with No. 5 Clemson, is Nebraska’s largest city and home to more than 2,000 Jayhawks. We knew alumni would be thrilled to see the Jayhawk car in their city.
Danny Lewis, director of donor relations and athletic programs, mapped out a plan to visit as many local Jayhawks as possible so they could snap a photo and share a little bit of their KU story with us.
Baird Holm, LLP
Rick Putnam, former chair of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors, rounded up a flock of Jayhawks at his law firm. Putnam, c’77, l’80, is a managing partner of Baird Holm, LLP. He even persuaded the firm’s marketing department to create a special banner for the occasion.
Union Pacific Railroad
Next up on the tour of Omaha: a stop at Union Pacific Railroad, where Sierra Poulson, c’09, works as an attorney.
Poulson earned a degree in psychology with a minor in art history, and she lived in Templin Hall. After leaving the Hill, she earned her law degree at DePaul.
We asked her what she misses most about Lawrence, and she responded “’80s night at the Bottleneck and crunchy chicken cheddar wraps!”
As we were taking the photo, another Jayhawk walked by … Jayhawks are everywhere.
Susan Hunter works as a train dispatcher for Union Pacific. She earned a degree in business and accounting from KU in 1994.
She was a proud resident of Douthart Scholarship Hall, and her favorite memory of KU is Thursday night trips to Carlos O’Kelly’s and watching “Seinfeld” and “Friends.”
KU Office of Admissions
No, KU’s Office of Admissions didn’t move to Omaha—but you may not know that it employs regional admissions representatives across the country, including Angie Bass, who received a degree in elementary education in 2016.
Her favorite memory of Lawrence is the atmosphere of the town when the Kansas City Royals won the World Series. She heard fireworks all over town and ran to Massachusetts Street to celebrate.
Here’s hoping for another Mass Street celebration soon…
We drove the car out to Jet Linx, a personal private jet company started in Omaha in 1999, to see Jamie Walker.
Walker, c’97, is the president and CEO of the company. He earned a degree in English from KU and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Some of Walker’s favorite college memories include nights at the Bull, just down the street from his fraternity house. What does he miss most about Lawrence? The whole town. It’s a pretty special place, after all.
We hope you enjoyed meeting some Omaha Jayhawks! Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more sights and sounds from the Midwest Regional. For more information about pregame events and watch parties during the NCAA Tournament, visit our ’Hawks ’n Hoops postseason hub.
The Jayhawks have advanced to the Midwest Regional, and Omaha is ready to host! Before KU fans arrive in Nebraska’s largest city, we reached out to local alumni for their recommendations on places to see, eat and drink.
Ask any Omaha native what to do in town, and you’ll get the same answer first: go to the zoo. Named one of the five best zoos in America by USA Today and Trip Advisor, the Henry Doorly Zoo is a must see for visitors of all ages. Enter the Desert Dome that towers above the grounds, and be sure to see Kingdoms of the Night, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit, located underneath.
Half a mile south of the CenturyLink Center is the Old Market, an arts and entertainment district sprawling across cobblestone streets. With over 50 businesses in the area, you’ll find a place to shop, eat, or drink the way you like it.
Just like Kansas City, Omaha has preserved their historic Union Station with a museum honoring the history of Omaha and the region. Bring the kids, and let them explore the exhibits, including a 1950s steam engine and train cars. It’s only a half-mile walk from the Old Market.
A hip lunch spot that’s easy to miss, visitors to Block 16 will find a burger Alton Brown calls his favorite in the country, and fries served in ways you’ve never seen before. Think Lawrence’s own Burger Stand with an expanded menu.
While there won’t be any official watch parties in Omaha for KU’s games, the Good Life hosts the Omaha Jayhawk Network for watch parties throughout the season. Standard bar fare and plenty of wings make it a perfect place to watch the games on KU’s off days.
Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our biweekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes.If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at email@example.com.
Art has been central to Stacey Lamb’s identity since she was a child, and she went on to earn a degree in fine arts from KU and worked as a greeting card illustrator for thirty years. After a close friend was diagnosed with leukemia, she turned to art to deal with her emotions and help her friend. Read full article.
Former Topekan Walt Riker spent much of his career traveling the world, first as press secretary for Sen. Bob Dole and then guiding McDonald’s Corp. as its vice president of corporate communications. Riker, c’70, j’78, also served on the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors. Read full article.
Amanda Angell, a 2015 graduate of the KU School of Law, recently joined Koley Jessen, a full-service business law firm based in Omaha. Angell was previously a compliance consultant for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. Read full article.
Donald J. Hall Jr. was awarded the Kansas City area’s highest honor for civic leadership at the 129th annual dinner of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Hall, g’83, is the fourth member of the Hall family to receive the honor. Read full article.
KU Law School graduates Luke Hangge and Kyle Kitson have joined Littler Mendelson PC as associates in its employment and labor law practice. Hangge, l’16, served as a judicial intern for the U.S. District Court in Kansas City this past year. Kitson, l’13, was previously an attorney with two other firms in the Kansas City area. Read full article.
The Kansan got a chance to have a conversation with Hank Driskill, c’88, a technical supervisor for the film. Read as he discusses his Kansas beginnings, his work at Disney and “Moana.” Read full article.
Richard Rogers was a decorated war veteran, mayor of Manhattan, and member of both chambers of the Kansas Legislature. He graduated from the KU School of Law in 1947 and entered private practice. Read full article.
Una Nowling, e’93, g’93, was the keynote speaker for Trans Awareness Week, which was hosted by the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity. She shared her experiences of her transition both in and out of her workplace in the STEM field with the audience. Read full article.
Damon Mitchell, a Kansas City native and 2000 graduate of the KU School of Law, was named chief deputy district attorney for Wyandotte County by the newly elected district attorney Mark Dupree. Read full article.
Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.
Why is the KU Natural History Museum on the road? Museum staff members are on their way to join a Tyrannosaurus Rex dig site in Montana, where KU paleontologists are busy finding and extracting fossils for KU. The #teamTrexKU effort began in May with a crowdfunding campaign that provided the resources for researchers and students to go to the excavation site for up to four weeks. The team arrived the first week of July and has already found part of a rib and part of a lower jaw, adding to the 15 percent of this T. rex already found during previous expeditions. The hope is to bring much more of this exciting find home to KU.
Join fellow Jayhawks at three upcoming events to learn more about this expedition, enjoy beer, and help create an exhibit about microbes for the KU Natural History Museum.
The NCAA Tournament depends, in part, on the annual rite of building up the underdogs; David versus Goliath is a March Madness mantra that never grows old. So when second-seeded Kansas faces No. 7-seed Wichita State University, it might be expected that anybody who’s not part of the crimson and blue crew in Omaha’s CenturyLink Center will be rooting for the Shockers.
Objection! That’s assuming facts not in evidence, advises Omaha attorney Rick Putnam, c’77, l’80, chair-elect of the Alumni Association’s board of directors.
While the Sunflower State storyline has been hotly coveted by WSU fans since NCAA brackets were revealed last Sunday, the game won’t be contested on a strictly neutral court: CenturyLink is the home arena of the Creighton University Bluejays, a fierce Missouri Valley Conference rival of Wichita State.
“There’s a lot of bad blood between Creighton and Wichita State, a lot of bad blood,” Putnam said during KU’s official pregame rally, hosted by the Alumni Association in partnership with the Williams Education Fund and Kansas Athletics, before Friday’s NCAA opener. “There’s going to be a lot of blue in here cheering for the Jayhawks if we face Wichita State, and it won’t be only our blue. Creighton blue will be here to root for KU.”
Sunday kicks off with the Association’s pregame rally, set to begin at 12:30 p.m. on the second floor of the CenturyLink Center. Game time is 4:15 p.m.
“It will be a big game for our state,” said KU coach Bill Self, “without question.”
When Alumni Association president Kevin Corbett, c’88, took the stage to welcome Jayhawk alumni and fans to the official rally before Friday’s NCAA Tournament opener in Omaha’s CenturyLink Center, he told the gathering that he and other members of the Association staff weren’t sure what to expect.
With a rally that began at 8 a.m., ahead of an 11:15 a.m. tipoff, they worried the early hour would keep fans from showing up in time for a gathering of the flock.
“And next thing we know,” Corbett noted to the crowd of about 1,000 Jayhawk faithful, “there’s a line outside the door to get in. Welcome to the Big Dance.”
The early risers soaked in the complete crimson and blue experience. With the giant inflatable Jay towering over the ballroom and D.J. Scott Simpson, ’85, cranking out the tunes, fans frolicked with Baby Jay, found themselves interviewed by television crews and scored official gear from KUStore.com, all while greeting old friends from near and far.
“We’re thrilled to have everyone back in Omaha,” said the Association board’s chair-elect Rick Putnam, c’77, l’80, a local attorney. “Every few years we get to see all of our KU friends return here for the tournament, and it’s always seems to work out well.”
The Jayhawks launched their 2008 national championship run in Omaha, and did the same on their way to the NCAA Tournament title game in 2012. Should they be fortunate enough to advance to the tourney’s second weekend three years from now, the Jayhawks could return again to Omaha, which will host NCAA regional play in 2018.
“Here we are again,” Corbett told the crowd, “ready to begin another run.”
Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, told the KU faithful about a few minutes he spent in the locker room with assistant coaches while coach Bill Self met with the media after the Jayhawks secured their 11th-consecutive Big 12 title. The coaches, Zenger said, thought back to the 72-40 drubbing by Kentucky Nov. 18; from that disappointment emerged 26 victories entering NCAA play, another outright conference championship, a trip to the Big 12 Tournament’s title game and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“The coaches said to me, ‘We’d have taken that and run,'” Zenger recalled. “What a job coach Self has done.”
Noting that KU is in its 26th-consecutive NCAA Tournament, Zenger closed with, “This is what we do, and nobody does it better.”
With the Spirit Squad and basketball band kicking the festivities into high gear, fans sang along with fight songs, the Alma Mater and, of course, the Rock Chalk Chant before descending in droves to the arena below.
The Big Dance had begun.
Check out our photos from today’s pregame party and pep rally in the slideshow below.
While Alumni Association staff busily prepared for Friday’s 8 a.m. pregame rally on the second floor of the convention center in Omaha’s CenturyLink Center, the KU men’s basketball team met with the media and went through a public shoot-around practice in advance of Friday’s 11:15 a.m. NCAA Tournament opener against New Mexico State.
The second-seeded Jayhawks (26-8) say the memories of last year’s opening weekend exit after suffering an upset by Stanford remains fresh in their minds.
“Last year went by way too fast,” said sophomore guard Wayne Selden Jr. “Just like that we were done. This year we’re trying to take a different approach, focusing in on the little details.”
Coach Bill Self said junior forward Perry Ellis, the team’s leading scorer, “looks a lot better than last week.” Ellis sustained a knee injury in the second-to-last game of the regular season, March 3 against West Virginia, and missed two games before returning for the Big 12 Tournament’s semifinal and championship games.
“He’s been terrific,” Self said of Ellis’ performance in practice this week. “He hasn’t winced once, and hasn’t had to come out. … I think he’s going to play great.”
The Aggies of New Mexico State (26-8), a No. 15 seed, have won 13 straight games, including an 80-61 victory over Seattle University in the WAC championship game. The tournament title followed a regular-season conference championship for the Aggies, who are known for a tough zone defense with varied looks.
Self said he expected the experienced Aggies, with three seniors in the starting lineup, to enter Friday’s game with “an unbelievable sense of urgency.”
As for his own team, Self said that unlike last season, when the Jayhawks “were a team in flux” entering the NCAA Tournament, he and his club are eliminating distractions. Despite inconsistencies across the season and even within games, Self has high hopes for his team’s performance.
“My expectation,” Self said, “is that we are going to play our best ball.”
Watch our slideshow below to see a few pictures from Thursday’s open practice. Photos by Dan Storey and Chris Lazzarino.
We’re excited to partner with the University of Kansas Libraries this summer to present a number of events. More than 80 Jayhawks in Denver turned out for An Evening with Naismith: Artifacts of a KU Legend, and that event will be held next week in both Houston and Dallas.
The second event we’re co-hosting with the Libraries this summer is Rhythm and Meaning: Jazz at KU. Join us in Chicago, Omaha and St. Louis to see a selection of the Libraries’ rich jazz collection, including one of the largest sound archives west of the Mississippi.
The cost for each event is $15 and includes hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. We encourage you to sponsor a Jayhawk and bring along a prospective student! Current and incoming KU students can attend the events at no cost.
Staff from the KU Alumni Association and KU Libraries will attend each event to share updates from the Hill.
We hope you’ll be able to join us at one of these events to learn a little more about KU’s unique history and enjoy an evening of KU camaraderie! If you’re a member of the KU Alumni Association, be sure to bring your membership card and receive a free gift.