Forty years of Hog Calling: The Marching Jayhawks’ pregame tradition

Posted on Oct 6, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

You’re already in your seat. You’re still in line at the snack bar. Or maybe you are enjoying one last beverage before heading into Memorial Stadium. Be anywhere else but under the east side stands about 40 minutes before kickoff, and you will miss a Marching Jayhawks tradition that’s a little more obscure than most.

For 40 years, the Marching Jayhawks have used one song to pump them up before running onto the field at Memorial Stadium to play the songs that get everyone else ready for the game.

“When it’s hog calling time in Nebraska
When it’s hog calling time in Nebraska
When it’s hog calling time in Nebraska
When it’s hog calling time in Nebraska

If it sounds bizarre and unofficial, that’s because it is. Unlike other KU traditions that date back to the late 19th century, “Hog Calling” began 40 years ago when a group of Marching Jayhawks were bored.


From the top

Lee Whitman, d’82, from Kearney, Nebraska, learned the song while working on staff at a Boy Scout camp. “It was a silly song the staff would sing to the Boy Scout troops, kind of like a comedy skit,” Whitman said.

“It was started my freshman year in 1977 when three friends and I were trying to kill time before run-in by singing classic barbershop quartet songs. Fellow tubas John Clyatt & Gordon Lankenau, drum major Steve Gordon, and I ran through a few songs to scattered applause and had time to do one more. I pulled Hog Calling out and said to just follow my lead. The people listening laughed and next week we were asked to do it again. And so it started. By the time I marched my last game as a student, it had elevated to most of the band gathering around to join in,” Whitman said.

“Don’t ask me what made me suggest the four of us sing it that first time in 1977, or why such a nonsensical song would catch on in Jayhawk nation. It just happened. It was just a time-killer until everyone yelled ‘drums on the field’ meaning we were getting ready to run down the steps and start pregame.”

Surprised that the song is still going strong, 40 years later?

“I thought it would die a swift death after I graduated in 1982.”

Hog Calling today

Bennett Johnson, a Lenexa senior studying music education, is a drum major for the Marching Jayhawks. As a four-year member, Johnson has gone from wide-eyed freshman to a leader for more than 250 students in the band.

“The freshmen in the band aren’t told about it beforehand, and the surprise is pretty amazing,” Johnson said. “I thought it was one of the coolest experiences I’d had at KU so far.”

Like most traditions, the Hog Calling has changed over time. The entire band gathers arm-in-arm in circles and sings the verse two times. In between verses, a band member gives a short speech while everyone hums along to the melody. Afterwards, everyone huddles up for a ‘What time is it? Game time!’ call and response.

Since the sousaphone section started the tradition 40 years ago, it’s only appropriate that they get their time to shine during each rendition today.

“Each game, a different sousaphone member gives the speech and leads the chant at the end,”  Johnson said. “The last game of the season is usually taken by the most senior member of the section.”

Despite the changes, don’t expect to hear complaining from those who were there first.

“I love how it has morphed over the years,” Whitman said. “I like that Hog Calling is our band’s private tradition, and the members are free to modify as they see fit. When we started, it was four guys singing at a single run-in line and believe me, even after we graduated we had no idea that the younger students would keep it up!”

The other KU team

As a group of students that commit their free time three days a week to practice—plus gamedays, which are often all-day affairs— the Marching Jayhawks share a bond in their passion for the University, the music, and each other: the other KU team that plays on Saturdays on the hill.

“The band is a family, often as close-knit as any greek house or other similar organization,” Whitman said. “We aren’t all music majors, in fact I think a majority are not. But we love playing, being part of the game day experience, and being a part of one of the best marching band programs around.”

-Ryan Camenzind

Chalk 'n' Rock | Homecoming 2017KU’s 105th Homecoming celebration, Jayhawks of the Galaxy, takes place Oct. 1-7, 2017. All alumni are invited to return to their alma mater, including Marching Jayhawks. Band alumni return to Memorial Stadium every Homecoming to march on the field— and join in the hog calling! For a full list of activities and events during Homecoming week, visit the Homecoming website. Homecoming is sponsored by Crown Toyota Volkswagen.

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Chalk ‘n’ Rock makes Wescoe shine

Posted on Oct 3, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

Chalk 'n' Rock Homecoming event

Wescoe beach was lit up with color on Tuesday, October 3rd for Chalk ‘n’ Rock, a Homecoming tradition where Greek life and other student organizations cover the sidewalk in chalk drawings celebrating this year’s Homecoming theme, Jayhawks of the Galaxy.

The competition had 11 entries, with the team of Alpha Chi Omega, Kappa Sigma, and Zeta Beta Tau placing first in the greek life category and the Engineering Student Council finishing first in student organizations.

A panel of judges selected this year’s winners:

Greek Life
1st: Alpha Chi Omega, Kappa Sigma, Zeta Beta Tau
2nd: Alpha Delta Pi, Triangle
3rd: Sigma Delta Tau, Delta Delta Delta, Alpha Tau Omega, Beta Sigma Psi

Student Organizations:
1st: Engineering Student Council
2nd: Beta Upsilon Chi
3rd: Sellards Scholarship Hall

Watch our video recap and slideshow of photos from Chalk ‘n’ Rock below, or click here to view the pictures on Flickr. Photos may be downloaded for personal use.


-Ryan Camenzind

Chalk 'n' Rock | Homecoming 2017KU’s 105th Homecoming celebration, Jayhawks of the Galaxy, takes place Oct. 1-7, 2017. For a full list of activities and events during Homecoming week, fun facts and historical information, visit the Homecoming website. Share your photos with us by posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #kuhomecoming, and follow the hashtag to see more pictures of the celebration. Homecoming is sponsored by Crown Toyota Volkswagen.

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Baby Jay unites generations of Jayhawks at wedding

Posted on Sep 29, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

Andrew, b’14, and Erin Forbes, j’14, were married in Kansas City on June 3, 2017. The couple sent us some pictures of their wedding, which included a very recognizable special guest. We had to follow up to hear more of the story. Nothing brings people together like the University of Kansas (and Baby Jay)!

Maupin Forbes Jayhawk wedding with Baby Jay

How did you two meet?

Our sorority and fraternity (Tri Delta and Delta Chi) were partnered for Homecoming in 2011, our sophomore year at KU. It all started somewhere between a few Jayhawk Jingle practices and pomping our float for the parade!

What was your engagement story?

We’ve since moved to San Francisco after graduating from KU and Andrew proposed near Sutro Baths. It was a very foggy day and he took me to a restaurant that overlooks the ocean. As we wrapped up the meal the clouds began to clear up and we walked down to the water where he proposed.

MaupinForbes060317-0586 (1)

Who came up with the idea to take a photo with all of the KU grads?

Erin did! We had seen photos from other weddings with the alumni holding a statue of their mascot, we figured we could do one better and just invite Baby Jay to the reception. And I’m glad we did, it was great to capture so many Jayhawk grads of all ages in one place: from the 1960’s to 2016! Everyone loved taking photos with Baby Jay, whether they went to KU or not.

Share your Jayhawk wedding story

We love hearing about Jayhawk weddings like this one. If you have a wedding or engagement story with a special Lawrence flair, send it to us! Also, check out our collection of Jayhawk wedding photos on Facebook.

All photos courtesy of Complete Weddings and Events KC.

-Ryan Camenzind

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Lawrence Network leader earns Wintermote award

Posted on Sep 28, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

Brandon Petz, b'06, g'07, Lawrence Network Leader and Wintermote Award recipient

With volunteers all across America, it takes a lot for one in KU’s backyard to stand out. Brandon Petz does that and more for local alumni as the Lawrence Network leader. The KU Alumni Association is proud to name Petz, b’06 g’07, a Dick Wintermote Network Leader of the Year Award recipient. The annual award recognizes volunteers who brought extraordinary leadership to their network.

“I am so honored to be named a Wintermote Award recipient. All the years volunteering for various networks has been so much fun and I cherish being a part of the KU Alumni Association and all it stands for,” Petz said.

Uniting local alumni

Petz’s work to bring together a group of alumni that already feels connected to the University due to their proximity to campus has impressed many inside the Alumni Association.

“Brandon Petz has gone above and beyond to revamp the Lawrence Network in the shape of the new alumni network strategy,” said Nick Kallail, assistant vice president of alumni and network programs. “He has recruited a team that have provided diverse events and continues to move forward engaging alums to make KU better. This is no easy task in Lawrence, where opportunities to connect with KU are so plentiful.”

Fellow Lawrence network volunteer Tom Larkin, a’09, echoed Kallail’s comments, noting Petz’s enthusiasm for KU “that clearly started before he became president of our Lawrence network. He’s extremely organized and focused, and has a knack for getting everybody energized about the current mission or task at hand. His leadership and positive disposition makes him a joy the be around and a true asset to the Association.”

Petz, a Cimarron, Kansas, native, lives in Lawrence with his wife, Bonnie, and his daughter, Eleanor. Petz is chief financial officer of Grandstand Glassware and Apparel, a local custom screenprinting company that specializes in glassware and apparel.

About the award

The award is named for Dick Wintermote, c’51, who served as the executive director of the Association from 1963 to 1983. His legacy represents the importance of building a strong volunteer network, the need for a dues-paying membership program and establishing the KU Alumni Association as one of the premier associations of graduates in the country.

—Ryan Camenzind

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Former Chancellor Gray-Little to be honored at Gordon Parks Celebration

Posted on Sep 26, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

Chancellor Gray-Little via | Former KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will receive the “Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award” at the annual Gordon Parks Celebration on October 12 in Fort Scott, Kansas.Former KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will receive the “Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award” at the annual Gordon Parks Celebration on October 12 in Fort Scott, Kansas. The award, named after Gordon Parks’ autobiography of the same name, was established in Parks’ honor to be given annually at the celebration of the photographer, writer, filmmaker, and musician.

“We are honored to have Dr. Gray-Little as our award recipient,” said Jill Warford, Executive Director of the Gordon Parks Museum.  “Her dedication to and accomplishments in education are outstanding.  Gordon Parks was a self-educated man who sought to learn every day of his life, so it is very appropriate to honor Dr. Gray-Little with this award.”

Chancellor Gray-Little served the University from 2009 to 2017. She guided KU to unprecedented success by elevating the university’s national stature and transforming the way KU serves the state and world.

Reservations to the celebration tribute dinner are $30 and can be purchased by calling the Gordon Parks Center at 620-223-2700 or emailing For more information, visit The Gordon Parks Center’s website.

-Ryan Camenzind

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Doctoral student balances bioengineering research, ‘American Ninja Warrior’

Posted on Sep 18, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

Mitch VeDepo puts both his body and brain to work by researching heart valve replacements and training for NBC’s hit reality TV show “American Ninja Warrior,” where contestants compete to finish an extreme obstacle course. We reached out to Mitch to ask him about his time on the show, his work in the labs, and his plans for the future.

Vedepo course

What is it actually like competing on the show?​

Competing on American Ninja Warrior is really interesting. The best thing about the whole experience is definitely the other people. The ‘Ninja’ community is awesome and full of amazing characters. It is a bunch of like-minded individuals who come together to try and take down the hardest obstacle course in the world. I really do mean we come together against the course. There is a real sense of camaraderie among the ninjas, and although the show likes to depict it as though we are competing against each other, we are really all competing against the same obstacle course. We cheer each other on when there is a finisher and are bummed when someone falls. My least favorite part of competing is the whole production of the show. It’s easy to forget but ANW is a reality TV show first, and a competition second. I definitely participate for the competition aspect and the interviews, lights, and cameras are not my favorite, but I suppose they are necessary. In the end the production aspect does help build up the excitement and hype of the competition so it is all worth it. But overall the show is just a ton of fun, which is why I have competed the last three years and will try again next year.

Mitch Vedepo in the labWhat have your classmates and professors said to you about your performance? Or is it all business once you get back into the labs?

It’s actually very much business, which I am okay with. Professors and advisers definitely know about me competing and we will talk and joke about the show and my performance but then it is back to the research. The show likes to call me the Science Ninja, and I definitely bring some science into my training, but I don’t bring any ninja into my science.

What are you researching at KU?

I’m in my fourth year of my doctorate in bioengineering at KU. My research is focused on creating tissue engineered heart valves for pediatric patients. There is a significant clinical need for an ideal heart valve replacement option, especially for pediatric patients, who must otherwise undergo multiple revision surgeries. My specific interest is in the recellularization of decellularized heart valve scaffolds by investigating different cell re-population mechanisms and leveraging bioreactor conditioning parameters. My research is being performed in collaboration with the Cardiac Regenerative Surgery Research Laboratories at the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Were you training and resaerching at the same time? If so, how did you manage your time?

I was! And it is cool to see both those efforts pay off in the end. Time management has definitely been key. I’d like to think I do a good job of getting down to business and trying to be effective when it is time to work in the lab. But once I leave the lab I rarely take that work home with me so I can separate work and play. And by play I mean training. Probably five nights a week I end up training at the gym because it really does feel like playing around and having fun. Only after do you realize what a good workout it was.

What are your plans and goals for after graduation?​​

I’d definitely like to continue with my research. I’m currently looking for post-doc opportunities related to cardiac tissue engineering with a long-term goal of pursuing a career in academia. My short term goal, though, is really just to graduate, and somewhere in there, maybe compete on American Ninja Warrior again next year.

Watch the video below to see Mitch’s run in the Kansas City finals that sent him to the national finals in Las Vegas.

-Ryan Camenzind

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KU unites in support for Houston

Posted on Sep 7, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

The KU Alumni Association partnered with the University of Kansas, Kansas Athletics, Inc., and KU Endowment in support of a “Houston Strong” initiative. At the Sept. 2 KU football game, flyers were distributed to fans and a video featuring Chancellor Girod, Coach Bill Self and Coach David Beaty was shown:


Organizations featured as suggested donation options included:

Team Rubicon: Uniting the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.

Save the Children: Providing supplies and services for children and their families.

Texas SPCA: Providing food and shelter for lost and displaced animals.

Greater Houston Community Foundation’s Hurricane Harvey Relief: A general fund established by the Houston mayor and county judge.

Kansas Athletics also announced a donation drive will be held at football, soccer and volleyball home games in September.

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Future Jayhawk has room to grow

Posted on Aug 30, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

A Gardner family is giving a KU twist to the classic tradition of taking their child’s picture before each first day of school.

Shirly Kleiner, g’89, wanted to remember her grandson’s growth with an eye on his future: continuing the family tradition of attending the University of Kansas. So every first day, Brecken will slide on, and maybe someday squeeze on, the adult medium KU shirt for a picture.

“I loved the DNA theme for KU being in our family’s blood,” Shirly said. She’s not exaggerating: Shirly, Brecken’s father Travis, f’05, and Brecken’s older brother Thomas Wilkinson, a freshman studying mechanical engineering, all share KU as their school.

Brecken is 3 years old and is aiming to arrive on campus in fall 2032. We hope to see you then, Brecken!

Brecken Pre-preschool Brecken KU Shirt Aug 21 2017 Phone (4)[2]

-Ryan Camenzind

The photo on the left is from Brecken’s first day of pre-pre-school in 2016, and the photo on the right is this year’s first-day picture.

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Move-in day at Downs welcomes Jayhawks to a new home

Posted on Aug 17, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

Check InAs 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.”Unloading

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.

Big JayBeyond 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

-Ryan Camenzind

4-p, 2-b, noliver4 p, 2 b, share bedroom noliver 4 p private bed, noliver 2 p private bedroom, shared bath

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KU’s newest dining hall opens for behind-the-scenes preview

Posted on Aug 9, 2017 in Alumni News, News, and Sports


With move-in day fast approaching, the KU Memorial Union hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of KU’s newest dining option, South Dining Commons, on August 9.

Replacing Oliver Dining Hall, South Dining Commons is located at 18th and Naismith and is part of the Central District Plan. The 22,000 square-foot dining facility will primarily serve residents from Oliver and Downs residential halls, but is available for students, faculty, staff and the general public to enjoy.

Features of the facility include a variety of seating options, natural light from all directions, and the largest known game day flag presiding over the center. Director of KU Dining Mark Petrino described the dining hall as “a fun and unique design that will enhance the student experience for years to come.”

The facility houses 12 different food stations, offering a variety of options including Italian, Tex-Mex, homestyle, and the KYou zone, which offers vegan dishes and other options for dietary needs.

South Dining Commons will also have a grab-and-go grocery store, South Side, continuing the trend of offering quicker food options on campus, such as Jayhawk Grocer in Self Hall and the Studio Café in Hashinger Hall. A new commissary will also be hosted at South Dining Commons, where food will be stored and prepared for all KU Dining locations.

With a facility that feeds hundreds of students and distributes for thousands, a KU Dining’s large staff continues to grow. Over 200 employees are already on board, with around 150 of them students. Hiring will continue into the school year.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured Petrino; Tammara Durham, vice provost for student affairs; Sarah Waters, director of KU Housing; and Harneet Sanghera, KU Memorial Union Corporation Board President.

“I have no doubt that in two weeks time, we will have new and returning Jayhawks laughing, creating memories, and dining on the wonderful food here,” Sanghera said, and the ribbon gave way to a giant pair of scissors, officially welcoming all of KU inside.

The KU Alumni Association was invited to tour the new facility. Check out our pictures and video below:


-Ryan Camenzind

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