When the Charlotte Hornets announced a meet-and-greet for their newly drafted player Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte Jayhawks were there to welcome him to their city.
“I’m a native Charlottean and was six when the Hornets started. I’ve been waiting a long time for my hometown team to pick one of our guys,” said Rebecca Ferry, d’05. Ferry leads the local alumni network.
The meet-and-greet was extra special for Kelly Hunter and her son Luke. When the Hornets heard Luke was celebrating his 11th birthday, they pulled a few strings and sold him the store’s first Devonte’ Graham jersey.
The story gets even better: This wasn’t the first time Luke had met Devonte’. Luke and his mother ran into Graham two years ago while they were on campus.
On Luke’s 9th birthday.
“Devonte’ said he remembered meeting him,” said Kelly. “Luke thinks the Hornets drafting Devonte’ is the best birthday present ever.”
Read more about the 2018 NBA Draft, which saw former KU basketball players Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk drafted in the second round.
Alumni in Nashville, Tampa and Omaha also got together at their local watch sites to see where the Jayhawks would begin their NBA careers.
Going home again
The Big 12 Player of the Year didn’t have to wait long into the second round to know his destination, as the Charlotte Hornets traded two future second round picks to secure the first-team All-American at pick #34. Graham continues to be linked to his former backcourt teammate Frank Mason III, who was drafted with the same pick last year by the Sacramento Kings.
While Malik Newman and Billy Preston were not selected, their professional basketball careers are just beginning. Former Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr., who went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, shared his advice:
Not hearing your name called tonight doesn’t mean a damn thing, its all about what you do now. Yeah be mad, but use that frustration as fuel to the fire to prove you belong. Take it day by day & work your ass off because the cream will always rise to the top. Thats just facts.
A crowd-sourced fundraiser to bring KU’s historically black Greek life organizations a space of their own recently reached its goal.
After more than $50,000 was raised, the Divine Nine Plaza will be created. The plaza will honor the history of the organizations and give its student members and alumni a place to come together.
The “Divine Nine” is a nickname for a group of nine historically black fraternities and sororities, led by the National Pan-Hellenic Council, or NPHC. The plaza will celebrate the organization’s history with a monument for each of the nine sororities and fraternities and a marker depicting the story of NPHC.
Darius Jones, coordinator for KU’s fraternity and sorority Life, oversaw the project, which was funded on LaunchKU. The crowdfunding initiative of KU Endowment helps raise funds for projects and passions that benefit the KU community.
“My students informed me this idea has been discussed in previous years, but it never lifted off the ground,” Jones said. “When it was brought to my attention, my NPHC president at the time, Tyler Allen, wanted to know how we could make this happen. Student Senate’s Diversity & Inclusion Chair, Abdoulie Njai, also liked the idea of supporting NPHC with this initiative.”
Plans call for the plaza to be located in KU’s new Central District, between the Burge Student Union and the Integrated Sciences building. Construction is expected to begin soon.
The plaza will also bring greater visibility to the NPHC organizations.
“When people think of Greek life, they often automatically associate it with a house or a facility,” Jones said. “Having a physical presence on campus with these monuments will bring more awareness of our historically black Greek-lettered organizations. With this increased visibility, it is my hope it will help our community grow.”
Jones credits a variety of groups for helping make the project possible. KU’s Office of Student Affairs, including Tammara Durham, vice provost for student affairs, and Jane Tuttle, associate vice provost, strongly supported the campaign. KU Endowment staff created the LaunchKU page and collaborated on the plaza.
“I’m extremely thankful for my NPHC students,” said Jones. “This was their vision they advocated for, and without that none of this would have happened. Lastly, I want to thank all of the donors and supporters of the campaign. We could not have surpassed our goal without the tremendous amount of support.”
For more on the Divine Nine Plaza fundraising project, check out the campaign’s page on launchku.org.
Wescoe Beach has been a central hub for KU students for decades, where students study, chat and chill between classes.
Thousands of students have spent time soaking up the sun in front of Wescoe. But KU students from the late 1960s through the 1980s remember one particular man’s legacy of relaxing on the beach.
John Schneider, more commonly known as “Tan Man,” spent the better part of three decades as a campus icon, sharing his charm and kindness with Jayhawks.
Alumni track down legend
Celeste Gruhin, ’79, and her fiancé, Marc Jasperson, b’78, were reminiscing about their times at KU when their memories of Tan Man came up. After some digging, the pair got in contact with him and met in Rose Hill, where he now lives. Schneider showed them his scrapbook of photos from KU, and Gruhin and Jasperson knew they wanted to help more alumni celebrate his role in KU and Lawrence lore.
Gruhin organized a get-together to celebrate Schneider’s 75th birthday. She created a Facebook event to help get the word out.
“The response has been crazy,” Gruhin said. “We’re hoping to keep the momentum going and make it a memorable event.”
The birthday party is set for 4-7 p.m. June 23 at Johnny’s Tavern in North Lawrence. The event is open to the public. Those who attend are invited to contribute photos of “Tan Man” to be added to a scrapbook.
Can’t make it to the party? Email your pictures and memories of Tan Man to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be sure to pass them along so they can be included in the scrapbook! For more about Tan Man, check out the Lawrence Journal-World’s article from 2006. Watch for more coverage of the birthday celebration in the next issue of Kansas Alumni magazine.
This is the first year of an effort to reach Jayhawks throughout Kansas by bringing the best of KU to their hometowns. The tour has visited Leavenworth, McPherson, Hays, Manhattan, Garden City and Pittsburg and has featured several KU guests, including athletic directors and coaches, campus administrators and Alumni Association staff.
“More than 150,000 KU graduates and former students live in Kansas,” says Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, Alumni Association president. “It’s a priority for us to connect with these Jayhawks in their communities to show our appreciation for their dedication and support.”
Speakers at the events shared sentiments of a positive trajectory for the University. Peterson reminded the crowd that total enrollment has grown for the fifth straight year. Matt Baty, d’07, senior associate athletics director, praised the relationship between Kansas Athletics and the Alumni Association, calling it “one of the best in the entire country.”
Future stops include the annual KU Alumni Invitational at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, along with a Salina event Monday, June 25. Chancellor Doug Girod and Head Basketball Coach Bill Self will headline an impressive group of Jayhawk leaders.
It’s easy to follow along with Hawks & Highways! Follow us on Instagram for stories from the events, or follow us on Twitter for updates. The Williams Education Fund Twitter account also provides information about Hawks & Highways.
The Kansas Union is full of KU history, but one piece was missing from public view for months. The scaled campus model, featuring a tiny Strong Hall, small Allen Fieldhouse, and minuscule Potter Lake, was undergoing its first major renovation since 2002.
Students Sarah Irby and Will Shadwick, both School of Architecture graduate students, worked on the project. “I committed to it before I saw the model,” Shadwick said. “Once I saw how big it really is, I wasn’t sure what I’d gotten myself into.”
Despite the small size of the campus buildings, the construction process was far from simple. Irby, a’18, and Shadwick, a’8, used blueprints from building constructions to ensure they correctly matched the model’s 1/100 scale.
The technology used to construct the campus replica has certainly changed since the model was last updated. While wood is still used for some features, advancements in 3D printing allowed for plastic modeling of buildings to the 1/100th of an inch.
No amount of technology can replace the time commitment needed to paint windows, replace trees, adjust colors, and all the other details that come with the first renovation in 16 years. “Early on we had to decide what we were going to change, and what we would leave alone,” Shadwick said.
For example, Memorial Stadium still has a track surrounding the field. “With major stadium renovations coming soon, we thought we’d leave that to students later on,” said Shadwick with a smile.
“We’ve been meaning to do this for a long time,” said David Mucci, director of the KU Memorial Union. “These students did a great job.”
Past renovations to the model, a gift from the class of 1962, took pace in 1969, 1971, 1976, 1985, 1987, 1995, and 2002. “Usually it’s a renovation every five years, but with campus changing so rapidly we’d be repeating too often,” Mucci said.
The model is available to view on the third floor of the Kansas Union, near the staircase.
Read more about the KU Memorial Union’s changes in recent years, including its newest student space, Union Square.
Sasha Kuchinski, j’09, c’09, coordinates the Hawk Mentor program and serves as a KU admissions representative for Wichita. “At the banquet we had each mentor and mentee share their favorite moments from the past year and it was pretty incredible to hear all the things they’ve done together, but mostly how close some of these mentees and mentors have become,” said Kuchinski.
Azhai Williams, a senior from Wichita West High School, shared advice on succeeding in high school. Williams is headed to KU in the fall and spoke about her college search process.
Mentors and mentees left with KU mugs and glasses filled with candy and Jayhawk pennants.
The HAWK Mentor Program scheduled events for mentors and mentees throughout the school year. Events included KU campus visits, game watch parties and volunteer opportunities. Mentees also shadowed mentors at their jobs to learn more about professional workplaces.
Another step in the evolution of the Central District at the University of Kansas is now complete. On the site of the old Burge Union, which opened in 1979, sits a brand-new building: a new Burge that can host events of any size and adds accommodations that make KU a more welcoming, inclusive campus.
“The big goal was to have a flexible conference space,” said JJ O’Toole-Curran, senior associate director at KU Memorial Union. “Student Senate wanted to have offices for student services, and the union wanted a flexible conference space with a large kitchen downstairs to serve as the catering hub for this side of campus.”
The focus on inclusivity continued with the additions of a lactation room and a Wudu/Ablution room. Reflection rooms for meditation or prayer by students of all faiths are also available.
“These facilities were important to Student Senate to make our campus more accessible for our students,” said Sharon Leatherman, assistant director of building and event services. “Very few unions have everything we have here.”
The Forum, with a Skyfold wall down.
The Burge Union’s central room is the Forum, the largest single-function room in Lawrence with over 10,800 square feet. For comparison, the Kansas Union ballroom is 7,000 square feet.
The room can be divided into four separate rooms with Skyfold soundproof walls that unfold from the ceiling. Student groups can reserve facilities for free, with reduced rates available for staff and faculty.
A Roasterie Coffee and Hawk Shop convenience store sells grab-and-go food for students.
A seating area in the main entrance offers a view of Allen Fieldhouse.
A “Quiet Zone,” where students can study in total silence.
Study pods, recently added in the Kansas Union as well, line the windows in a hallway.
Slawson Hall hosted a formal dedication ceremony for the two buildings on April 25, where Chancellor Girod shared remarks. Other speakers included with Robert Goldstein, provost’s special adviser for campus development; Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment, and Bryan Rodriguez-Colon, a graduate student in geology.
“The University of Kansas aspires to make discoveries that change the world — and the Earth, Energy & Environment Center positions KU researchers to do exactly that in areas related to energy, natural resources and the environment,” Girod said. “Thanks to these new facilities, the university will continue to be at the forefront of efforts to address challenges and create opportunities that shape our society for years to come.”
Members of the Lawrence community are invited to come see the building themselves at an opening celebration from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 5. The event is free and includes activities for children and adults:
A rock pile where children can search for stones and fossils to keep, with geologists on hand to identify them
An augmented reality sandbox for participants to create models of geologic events and features like floods, landslides and lakes
Demonstrations of the new state-of-the-art lab equpiment
An exhibit of core samples, a cola-fueled volcano, showings of “Jurassic Park” and more
Maps will be available for self-guided tours. Guided tours will also take place to show the inner workings of the facility.
The panelists included Alberto Araujo, a masters student with a decade of experience reporting in his home country of Ecuador; Colleen McCain Nelson, j’97, vice president and editorial page editor of the Kansas City Star; Patricia Gaston, j’81, editor at the Washington Post; Kevin Helliker, c’82, who has 26 years of experience at the Wall Street Journal; and J.B. Forbes, j’73, chief photographer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The panel was moderated by Pam Fine, KU journalism professor and former managing editor of the Indianapolis Star.
Citing current tensions between political journalists and their readers, Fine opened the event by asking each panelist what political journalists are doing right in today’s climate. A central theme of journalists’ responsibilities emerged in the evening’s responses.
When asked about the idea of bias in media, Helliker reminded the audience that “journalists are totally self-serving. What I want is a great story. The idea that journalists are molding their coverage to fit their ideology gives them too much credit. We just want a good story.”
Nelson shared her experiences working on an editorial page in the era of partisan segmentation. When asked whether it’s her job to help create common ground, she responded, “It’s part of our goal. At the editorial page, our goal is to expose people to different points of view, and not create an echo chamber where you only have people agreeing with each other. We’re trying to create a civil conversation on the editorial page, which is tough right now. We’re trying to remind readers that it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable; you can read something where you don’t embrace the idea but you still might learn something.”
Dean Ann Brill concluded the event by starting a tradition at the School of Journalism: presenting the group of Pulitzer Prize-winning panelists with Alumni of Distinction medals.