At this time of year we joyously celebrate our newest assembly of graduates and wish them well in their personal and professional journeys. And then something powerful happens. Our new alumni apply what they’ve learned here, add more knowledge along the way, and, given a little more time and some hard work, emerge as leaders.
Our alumni give so much of their time, treasure, and talent to the University of Kansas that it is truly uplifting. One intangible gift they offer, specifically for KU students, is inspiration. These Jayhawks combined their knowledge, experiences, and KU connections and then fashioned them into remarkable success.
Throughout the year, the schools and the College make a point to recognize a handful of alumni who are shaping their workplace, their fields, their communities, and society. On Friday night, the School of Pharmacy recognized alumnus Joe Courtright, CEO of USA Drug, now part of Walgreens.
This weekend the School of Law presented its top alumni honor to three graduates, Judge Karen Arnold-Burger chief judge of the Kansas Court of Appeals; John Bowman, partner with King & Spalding LLP; and William “Brad” Bradley Jr., founder of NIC Inc. In September, the College feted diplomat and executive Delano Lewis, and the School of Architecture and Design announced three recipients of its inaugural Distinguished Alumni Awards.
In February, the School of Music delivered its first Outstanding Music Educator Award to Kelli Baker during a statewide music educators workshop. In the coming days, the School of Business and the School of Engineering will announce honors for some of their luminaries; the School of Education will honor alumna and Superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas, School District Cynthia Lane with KU’s Friend of Education Award; and the School of Social Welfare will recognize excellent field instructors, many of whom are program alumni, with the annual Margo Award.
Delano Lewis. Photo by Brian Goodman Photography.
The recognition of our Jayhawks isn’t limited to academic units. Achievements come from near and far. Music alumnus and organist Brian Mathias was recently selected to join one of the nation’s biggest gigs, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Over the past year, two of our alumni, Diane Yetter and Terry Putney, were named among Accounting Today’s 2017 “100 Most Influential People in Accounting.”
Closer to home, the KU Alumni Association presented its 2017 Fred Ellsworth Medallion to College alumnus John Mize and B-School alumnus John B. Dicus, who, incidentally, is now the first third-generation recipient of the award. In October the Black Alumni Network of the KU Alumni Association celebrated nine alumni — including Associate Dean of Engineering Andrew Williams and Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Reggie Robinson — with the Mike and Joyce Shinn Leaders and Innovators Award.
Our institution-wide pinnacle, KU’s Honorary Degree, is regularly bestowed upon influencers, change leaders, and innovators, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos.
Students, the abundant success of our alumni tells us something valuable: It’s important to take calculated risks and seize the opportunities as they appear to us. Be bold as you embark on your careers. As faculty and staff, we’ve seen your potential firsthand. We know you’re destined to succeed. Promise me you’ll maintain connections to KU — social media can’t do it all. Make a point to really stay in touch with each other and this great institution. What you know matters. Who you know matters, too.
One day in the future, and sooner than you might think, you too will be an inspiration for a fresh generation of KU graduates. You have it in you to be a leader. We know because you’re already a Jayhawk.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
The University of Kansas celebrated Langston Hughes’ birthday with its fourth annual “The Power of Sport: A Conversation on Business, Race and Sports” symposium on Feb. 1. The event featured panelists Lafayette Norwood, a former KU basketball assistant coach, and Darnell Valentine, a KU All-American and former player for the Portland Trail Blazers. Claire Smith, a sports writer and news editor for ESPN, was the keynote speaker.
Life in Wichita in the 1980s
Dr. Shawn Leigh Alexander, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the Department of African and African-American Studies, led the evening and interviewed both Norwood and Valentine to dig deeper into what life was like in Wichita during the 1980s. Valentine explained that growing up, his entire world existed within a three-block radius, but basketball allowed him to broaden his perspective. He was the star of his team at Wichita Heights High School under Coach Norwood; when Norwood became an assistant at KU, it was a no-brainer for Valentine to follow.
Aside from being an successful athlete, Valentine was also an academic All-American. When faced with any issue, whether it involved school, relationships, or athletics, Coach Norwood asked Valentine, “what is the worst case scenario?” With this as his motivation, Valentine says having a college degree and being prepared to do something other than basketball was always in his mind.
Smith delivers keynote
Later in the evening, Smith gave her keynote address and recalled how she fell in love with sports. Her parents loved a nation that did not always love them back, but they showed an admiration for sports that was contagious. They had the ability to make Smith feel as though the star athletes were part of the family. One day Smith watched The Jackie Robinson Story at school and from then on was hooked. “Jackie mixed grit and grace and a grim determination to sacrifice for the greater good. He hasn’t played in over half a century and yet he still inspires; he still inspires me,” Smith said.
The “lost generation”
Smith laments the era of Michael Jordan as the “lost generation.” Sports were no longer arenas for social and political discussion, and black athletes appeared content simply making money instead of using the voice their notoriety gave them. “People so easily disappeared beyond their gated communities, sold products, and forgot that many of the kids pining to wear their shoes were even hungrier for role models,” Smith said. With the return of politics in sports, Smith notes that there will always be consequences for standing up—or even sitting down—and the media will always ask “why?,” but we should never expect to hear regrets.
All three guest speakers addressed the need for black athletes to represent, and more specifically, to represent the voices other people do not have. Using one’s name and notoriety is a powerful tool, because the world is always watching.
Editor’s note: Brianna Mears is a digital media intern for the KU Alumni Association. She is a fourth-generation Jayhawk and a sophomore in the University Honors Program majoring in strategic communications with a minor in business and African & African-American studies. She is also a member of the Journalism Student Leadership Board, a J-School Ambassador and a member of the Student Alumni Leadership Board.
Mike Plank of Rock Chalk Talk sat down with Todd Reesing, starting quarterback of the 2007 Orange Bowl champion football team, to reminisce about that season and share what he’s been up to in Austin. Read full article.
Shala Mills was awarded the Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement, which was established in 2014 to honor exemplary faculty leadership in advancing the civic learning and engagement of undergraduate students. Mills, l’88, is chair and professor of political science at Fort Hays State University. Read full article.
The Office of Administration announced that Governor Greitens has appointed Guy Krause as Director of the Office of Administration’s Division of Personnel. Krause, l’90, has worked for the Office of Administration in various human resource and personnel positions since 1995. Read full article.
Michelle Larrabee-Martin and Greg Martin, owners of Kolo Collection in Atlanta, are featured in this article. The couple offers materials and design services in their business. Greg is a Kansas native who holds a law degree from KU. Read full article.
Kristi Rivera, d’08, g’10, always knew she wanted to be a teacher, and she has taught at Delaware Ridge Elementary in the Bonner Springs School District since 2009. Her brother nominated her to be recognized as the Blue KC Sporting Samaritan. Read full article.
Three new Ethics Commissioners were selected and sworn in August 3 in Wyandotte County, including John J. Bukaty, Jr., who holds a juris doctor degree from the University of Kansas School of Law. Read full article.
Nearly 10 years after the 2007 Kansas football team became the winningest in program history, members of the squad will see their names become permanent fixtures at the university. The entire team will be inducted into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame, and Aqib Talib, ’09, Anthony Collins, ’09, and coach Mark Mangino will be inducted as individuals. Read full article.
Barry Slatt Mortgage has appointed Thomas Cohen as senior vice president in the firm’s San Diego office. Cohen, l’85, has more than 20 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry. Read full article.
Shala Mills has been appointed assistant vice president for graduate and extended learning at SUNY New Paltz, according to the college. Mills, l’88, will join the college administration on Aug. 28. She currently is director of liberal education and the political science chairwoman at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. Read full article.
Kansas City’s culinary soulmates – barbecue and beer – are headed to the Power & Light District next spring in the form of a new locally owned restaurant. County Line Ice House is owned and operated by a newly-formed LLC that includes Jeff Stehney, j’84; Zach Marten, b’02, l’05, co-founder of Back Napkin Restaurant Group. Read full article.
Some phenomena in the ocean can only be witnessed after dark. Matt Davis, assistant professor of biology at St. Cloud State University explains “milky seas” in this article. Davis earned a PhD in ecology and evolution from the university in 2010. Read full article.
Ashlyn Driskill, a current graduate student in the KU School of Business’ MBA program and a member of KU Volleyball’s 2015 Final Four team, made her television debut Saturday night when House Hunters documented her and her husband’s search for a Kansas City home. She sat down with us in February for a Q&A about the experience, but after the episode premiered we asked a couple more questions about the show and got an update on the house (pictures included!).
Did they let you see the final version before it premiered?
No, they did not let us see even a scene from the episode before it aired! That’s why we were so nervous to announce the air date, we had no clue what it was going to look like.
What did you think of the final cut of the episode?
I think the final cut was great! They did a really good job of making everything look smooth and natural because it definitely did not feel like that during the filming process. They did cut clips that I was hoping would make the episode. We filmed for six full days and it’s crazy to think they were able to cut it down to 30 minutes. We would retry a scene four to five times because the crew thought it would be great, but we never got to see it!
What did your friends and family say?
All our friends and family loved the episode! Our realtor had a watch party the night it was aired and invited many of his clients. Everyone thought we were going to pick house #3, which was actually our least favorite, so I guess you could say our acting skills aren’t too bad!
How is the MBA going?
My MBA is going great. I decided to choose a focus in Management and will be graduating in December.
How did the remodeling turn out?
The remodel turned out great! It took a little longer than we initially planned and still have plenty of more things to do. Right when we closed on the house we did a whole kitchen remodel and had a full remodel of the downstairs bathroom. We did the exterior work all ourselves! It was a blast to do it, but took a lot of manual labor. We painted, made shutters, put up the privacy fence and did all new landscaping.
Knowing all that you do now, would you do it again? Is a career in TV in your future?
I think it would be fun to do it again since I know how the process goes, but I definitely don’t have a future career in TV. I’m not a fan of a camera being six inches from my face all day and I do not have the personality for it. My realtor, Brett Budke, who is also a KU alumnus, would be perfect in a career in TV!
In case you missed it, search for “Young Couple Seeks Kansas City Starter Home” on your cable provider or on demand.
“Garfield: The Musical With Cattitude” opened Friday night and, even at the matinee show the following day, the actors, including alumna Brianna Woods, gave energized performances that would make you think it was opening night all over again. Read full article.
As one of the first American designers to challenge the boundary between utility and fine art, Wendell Castle creates an enticing breed of objects marked by superior craftsmanship and ingenuity in form, style, and technique. Castle, f’58, g’66, received an honorary degree from KU in 2013. Read full article.
Circuit Judge John Christian Yoder, whose work in law and politics spanned more than 40 years, including two terms in the West Virginia Senate, died Friday as a result of complications from heart surgery. He began a career in government service in his native state of Kansas and graduated from KU School of Law in 1975. Read full article.
NASA was slammed with a record number of astronaut applicants this year and out of more than 183,000 people, only 12 were given that proverbial golden ticket. The deserving dozen includes a Texan and University of Kansas graduate named Loral O’Hara. Read full article.
Peter Mallouk, c’93, b’93, l’97, g’97, an estate planning attorney, started his business with an eye toward servicing medical professionals in suburban Kansas City. Today the company, Creative Planning, is at the vanguard of a profound shift in finance. Read full article.
David Seely, l’82, was elected the new president of the Wichita Bar Association. He joined Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch in 1984 and focuses on civil litigation, especially cases involving oil and gas. Read full article.
Philosophy majors spend their college years pondering deep questions, such as: What is the meaning of life? Do we have free will? And what job am I going to get with this degree after graduation? As chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Sheila Bair, c’75, l’78, leaned on her philosophy degree from the University of Kansas to make crucial decisions during the financial crisis. Read full article.
Nikki Glaser’s come a long way from her days as a reluctant college student at the University of Kansas. Eleven years after graduating with an English degree, Glaser’s back in Lawrence, this time as a headliner at the Free State Festival. Read full article.
The first couple to ever say “I do” in the new, upscale Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas, in a ceremony on Sunday, happened to be Olathe native Dan Ryckert and his beloved Bianca. Dan is a 2007 graduate of the University of Kansas. Read full article.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation recognized the third class of Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellows, which includes KU graduate Justin Fairchild, g’13. Read full article.
Derby native Casey Combs walked across the stage at KU earlier this month, as she earned her Doctorate in Audiology. Casey is profoundly, or totally for a more practical term, deaf. Read full article and watch video
The Summer Venture in Business program is open to high-achieving 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade minority students or those who would be the first in their families to attend college. Former KU student body president Stephonn Alcorn and his Student Senate coalition had proposed such a camp last year as one way to help increase campus diversity. Read full article.
Tom Eblen, who mentored a generation of journalists as general manager and news adviser for the University Daily Kansan, died Saturday at age 80 in Prairie Village. As general manager and adviser of the Daily Kansan, Eblen oversaw the newspaper’s business affairs and provided lasting advice to students on writing and editing. Read full article.
Perry Ellis was one of the many fan favorites participating in an exhibition game that featured more than 40 former KU players and coaches including 12 members of Kansas’ 2008 national title squad. Read full article.
Robert Cobb, a University faculty member and administrator for over 30 years, passed away last week at the age of 91. In his time at the University, Cobb was an English professor, department head, dean, executive vice chancellor, professor emeritus and more. Read full article.
The Sacramento Kings hosted a second pre-draft workout on Wednesday with last season’s National College Player of the Year – Kansas’ point guard Frank Mason III. Upon arriving in Sacramento on Tuesday, Mason caught the attention of social media for inviting a Jayhawks fan to meet him at his downtown hotel. Read full article and watch video.
City Manager Matt Allen was presented with Leadership Kansas’ Jim Edwards Alumnus of the Year Award in recognition of what the organization viewed as his steady, innovative community leadership. Allen earned a master’s degree from KU in 1997. Read full article.
Frank Mack, who teaches arts administration at the University of Connecticut and previously led Shakespeare theater companies in California and New Jersey, has been named executive producer at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Mack earned a bachelor’s degree from KU in 1985. Read full article.
Henry Wear, g’14, received his Ph.D. in sport and entertainment management in May from South Carolina and earned his first postdoctoral position, as a lecturer in the sport management program at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Read full article.
The University of Kansas has selected Dr. Douglas Girod as its 18th chancellor. The search committee tasked with finding Gray-Miller’s successor has local ties. Greg Ek, b’76, was part of the 24-person search committee. He also serves as a board member for the KU Alumni Association and serves as the chairman of its audit committee. Read full article.
VIVUS, Inc., announced that Thomas B. King has been appointed to VIVUS’ board of directors. Mr. King’s nearly 40 years of pharmaceutical experience ranges from large to development-stage pharmaceutical companies. He received an MBA from the KU School of Business. Read full article.
Bernard Greenberg, a retired professor of entomology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, would assist law enforcement agencies in murder investigations by helping to determine details of the death from the presence or absence of bugs on the body. He earned a doctorate in entomology from the University of Kansas in 1953. Read full article.
Nate White, 39, was named chief operating officer of Sanford Health in 2012 and will become executive vice president, based in Fargo, beginning in August. he earned a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2004. Read full article.
L. Paige Fields, professor and dean of the School of Business at Trinity University, has been named Henry D. Price professor and dean of the KU School of Business. She will begin her tenure July 1.
“I am truly excited to have Paige joining our faculty,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Neeli Bendapudi. “Dr. Fields has proven leadership skills that will continue the upward trajectory of the school and build important partnerships within the university as well as the across the state of Kansas and in the Kansas City region.”
“I am honored to be joining the KU family as the new dean of the School of Business,” Fields said. “With Capitol Federal Hall as our home, outstanding opportunities for the School of Business abound. I am absolutely thrilled to begin the process of working with the KU community to develop strategies, new ideas and cutting-edge programs that will enhance the school’s already outstanding reputation. We should look to invest, innovate and grow, and I am eager to help KU’s incredible group of faculty, staff, students, alumni and business community members do just that.”
Fields fills the vacancy created when Bendapudi, the previous dean of the School of Business, was selected to be KU’s provost and executive vice chancellor.
Former KU and NBA basketball player Drew Gooden finished work on his communication studies degree in December and enjoyed the fruits of his academic labor walking down Campanile Hill on Sunday morning into Memorial Stadium for KU commencement exercises. Read full article.
Devenie Ross, a 2016 School of Business graduate, is one of the winners of the American Institute of CPAs’ 2016 Elijah Watt Sells Award. A total of 102,323 individuals sat for the exam in 2016, and Ross was one of 58 candidates to meet the award criteria. Read full article.
Attorney Diane L. Bellquist, of Joseph, Hollander &Craft LLC, is the newly elected president-elect of the Topeka Bar Association. She earned her juris doctor degree from the University of Kansas School of Law. Read full article.
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras, nominated Monday by President Donald Trump to fill a vacancy on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, is described by colleagues as a scholar who can build bridges with colleagues on the bench. Read full article.
Just Play Sports Solutions announced it will partner with seven professional WNBA teams — the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings, LA Sparks, Seattle Storm and Washington Mystic. Austin Barone, a graduate of the KU School of Business, is a co-founder of the company. Read full article.
Kevin Pritchard — who played at Kansas and was the starting point guard on the Jayhawks’ 1988 national championship team — is the new president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers. Read full article.
Fatimah Al Ghafli, 53, is a University of Kansas student from Saudi Arabia, a mother of nine and a grandmother of nine. She celebrated her second degree from KU, a master’s in math. Her husband and two kids also have degrees from KU, and two more children currently attend the university. Read full story.
University of Kansas professor emeritus of art history Edmund Eglinski was known as an advocate for learning through direct experience. Eglinski, 85, died Sunday in Lawrence of a heart attack. Read full article.
Michael Crawford — professor of anthropology, founding director of the Laboratory of Biological Anthropology and a founder of the field of anthropological genetics — has been at KU since 1971 and founded the lab in 1975. After more than 45 years on the Hill, Crawford is retiring and handing over leadership of the lab. Read full article.
Former Kansas basketball guard Nick Bradford remembers consulting two of his college mentors — former Jayhawks head coach Roy Williams and assistant Neil Dougherty — about his future career path. Bradford was announced as girls head basketball coach at Olathe North High School. Read full article.
If Michael Wilson has his way, Kansas City will become known for luxury watches as well as tasty barbecue. Wilson, b’05, has dedicated his hometown company, Niall, to manufacturing luxury watches with meticulous craftsmanship. Niall was the presenting sponsor for the April 29 Rock Chalk Ball, hosted by the Alumni Association’s Greater Kansas City Network. Watch our video to hear more about Wilson’s business philosophy and Niall’s creative and intricate tribute to KU’s distinctive basketball tradition.