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.
Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end a five-decade civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people — and said he received the award in the name of the Colombian people. Santos, b’73, earned degrees in business and economics from the University. Read full article.
Caleb Knueven, c’11, is writing and directing a new short film titled “Stadium” about the beginning of a breakup. On Aug. 19, the film received funding through Kickstarter and surpassed its goal of $6,000, with a final tally of $8,075. Read full article.
Jesse Hufft describes her position as co-founder and CEO of Hufft Projects as the job she never knew she always wanted. She and her husband, Matthew Hufft — a KU architecture graduate — started the architecture firm, which is based in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2005. He serves as the firm’s creative director. Read full article.
Diana Robertson, director of Student Housing at the University of Kansas, has announced her retirement effective June 27. In her 17 years at KU she has served as director for 11 years and associate director for residence life for six. Read full article.
A video from the Kansas City star narrated by KU alumnus and television journalist Bill Kurtis describes the DeBruce Center, built adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse to house the historic rules of basketball purchased by alumnus David Booth. Watch video.
Speaking of David Booth, the Wall Street Journal published an article about his company, Dimensional Fund Advisors, LP, the fastest-growing major mutual-fund company in the United States. The company was launched in 1981. Read full article.
Legendary KU football player David Jaynes, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife Barbara, was in town for a KU football reunion he organized for former KU coach Pepper Rodgers’ 85th birthday, which coincided with Saturday’s 24-23 loss to TCU. Jaynes placed fourth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1973. Read full article.
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This article was submitted by Mike Starkweather, c’67, one of the first residents to live in McCollum Hall after it opened. Read more of Mike’s memories of McCollum Hall here. Do you have stories of life in the residence hall to share with alumni? Email us at email@example.com. Photos are welcome, too!
Working as a resident assistant at McCollum Hall also meant attending staff meetings. At one particular meeting in April 1967, something happened that changed the course of my professional career. It had nothing to do with the content of the meeting, but what several of us did while the meeting was going on.
We always looked in our mailboxes, located across from the meeting room, before going into the room, just in case there was something besides the meeting agenda that needed our attention.
One day our mailboxes held a recruitment booklet from the United States Peace Corps advertising for participants in some of the first programs going to the South Pacific—specifically Western Samoa, the Kingdom of Tonga and Fiji. The meeting wasn’t particularly captivating (sorry, Dean), and by the time it was over, several of us had completed the multi-page, in-depth Peace Corps application. We asked each other, “What shall we do with them?”
The answer was simple: We sealed the self-addressed, postage-paid envelopes, and dropped them in the mail box and forgot about them.
In June telegrams from the Peace Corps arrived, inviting us to training in Hawaii. After three months of training, I headed off to the Kingdom of Tonga while a fellow staff member went to Fiji. It turned out to be the single most life-changing event for me. After participating in the Peace Corps, I directed Peace Corps training in the South Pacific, earned a master of arts degree from the University of Hawaii, and lived and worked in education and international development in Hawaii for thirty years.
I returned to the mainland and continued working in international development, switching my interests from Asia and the Pacific to Africa. My resume now reads “lived and worked in 42 countries on five continents.” Not bad for a kid from Wichita.
Two years ago our Peace Corps crew from Tonga celebrated the 40th anniversary of our arrival there. Forty of the 57 of us who completed the program talked about the collective 1,600 years of experience among us. There’s something we all share: Don’t be satisfied with the things you’ve done. Keep looking for something new and different to accomplish. Basically, what do you want to do when you grow up?
And those are the minutes of a staff meeting in McCollum Hall, April 1967. Do I have a second for the approval of these minutes?
This article was submitted by Mike Starkweather, c’67, an early resident of McCollum Hall. Do you have stories of life in the residence hall to share with alumni? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos are welcome, too! Read more of Mike’s memories of McCollum Hall here.
Ah, McCollum Hall. Being one of the first residents to move in during the fall of ’66 was historic enough, but who knew what was yet to come?
McCollum was the first residence hall on campus to allow men and women to live in the same building. Even though they were separated by the “iron curtain” dividing the floor in the lounges, you don’t really think that stopped them from mingling, do you?
As McCollum residents, we wasted no time making a name for ourselves. We joined Alpha Omicron Pi sorority to become the first independent living organization to participate in Rock Chalk Revue. It was a big deal to take part in the iconic event. Having been the lead actor in the skit, “Where There’s a Will There’s a Play,” I appreciate the hard work, long hours and dedication of the many people that make Rock Chalk Revue happen. At the time, the sole beneficiary was the KU YMCA.
Today, Rock Chalk Revue serves the entire Lawrence community—congratulations on making this happen. I truly appreciate the annual invitation extended to Rock Chalk Revue alumni to return to the Hill and continue to be part of this long-standing tradition. It’s on my bucket list.
Serving as a resident assistant at McCollum, I was privy to many events not found in the pages of the University Daily Kansan.
One hysterical event that may have led to serious car insurance issues comes to mind. One night while I was working in the office, the phone rang. The caller was Dean Fred McElhenie. He said, “Mike, we have a situation I need you to check out. To confirm it, please look out the window and tell me what you see on the south end of Ellsworth Hall.” He asked me to defuse the situation and let him know what transpired.
I went outside and looked up to the eighth floor, taking note of where a particular blue-tinged light appeared. I ventured to the eighth floor, knocked and entered the room full of male residents looking out the window at the facing wall of Ellsworth. The blue-tinged light belonged to a slide projector that was showing a cavalcade review of Playboy Playmates of the Month on the blank wall of Ellsworth—in three-story dimensions.
Given the proximity of the wall to the adjacent highway, traffic had definitely slowed down in the area. Fortunately, no brakes were squealing, but the review was not going unnoticed by residents, drivers and pedestrians in the area. I asked the men to aim the projector onto their own wall. The auto insurance companies should appreciate not having to pay claims for inattentive driving and bumper damage.
Other incidents from McCollum Hall rival this one, but they’ll remain under wraps to protect the guilty.
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.
This ode to McCollum Hall, written by KU student and former McCollum resident Chloe Voth, was originally published on The Odyssey and is reprinted here with permission. The residence hall will be demolished at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 25. Watch a livestream of the implosion, along with additional coverage, at www.kualumni.org/mccollum.
The campus skyline in Lawrence is about to change. The largest residence hall at the University of Kansas is going to be torn down. And while most students will be delighted to see the mold-infested dorm go, there are some of us who might shed a tear or two—specifically, the many lucky ones, including me, who were the last year of McCollum survivors!
I remember move-in day and being disgusted by the idea of sharing a bathroom with 30 other girls, trying to decide where I would put all my clothes with such little closet space and always having that slight fear that I would forget my key and get locked out on a regular basis. That first night on the small twin bed I contemplated my decision of staying in the dorm. There was no way I could survive this for another nine months when one night was already rough enough!
However, the next week that followed was a little less awful. Although I was disappointed that none of the boys on our floor were very attractive and annoyed that our dorm was the furthest from campus (so walking to class meant you had to make it an extra 20 yards without dying of heatstroke). But I decided to make the best of it by decorating and turning those cinder block walls into a room that felt like home as much as possible.
A ton changed in the next few weeks of freshman year. I finally got used to the weak water pressure of the showers and having to drag my dirty clothes through the lobby, into the elevator, all the way to the basement just to do laundry. But the best thing was that I finally talked to some of those weird boys in the other wing … and the dorm didn’t feel so awful after that. It became the location to many of the memories made:
Like having to wake up at 5 a.m. to go camp in line for the basketball games. I got to spend a half-hour banging on everyone’s door trying to get them up in time before having to walk down to the Fieldhouse (which always felt like miles away when it was still dark and freezing out). It took continuous knocking, but everyone eventually strolled into the lobby sporting their best hobo outfit and “I haven’t had coffee yet, so don’t talk to me” facial expression.
Or when we realized each room was a three digit number and we lived on the sixth floor, so naturally we wanted to find the room numbered 666. So we walked through each wing until we found that they did indeed skip over that satanic number.
By far the most unusual thing to happen was when I got up on a Sunday morning after a late Saturday night and heard that a certain sink in a certain boys’ wing was no longer working … probably because it was no longer attached to the wall. It was the conversation for the next few days and still remains as one of the legendary weekends of freshman year.
And let’s not forget that one fateful night, when we were up past the RA’s personal bedtime (9 p.m. on a Saturday night), and we all got written up … every single one of us.
I know that next year we will mistakenly find ourselves stumbling walking back to the end of Daisy Hill after a Friday night at the Hawk, only to be confused as to why our entire dorm building is missing.
At the start of the year I tried to cover up every inch of the white washed walls that surrounded me because I did not think this place could ever feel like home. And now that our first year at college has come to a close, I’m struggling to find the heart to tear everything down. Watching everyone else take their flags, pictures and posters off the walls, it’s beginning to hit me that this is all too real. We are no longer freshman. And this will no longer be my room where I swap crazy weekend stories with my roommate, spend five seconds trying to pick out a dress before hopping on safe bus or cry over my essay that just won’t write itself. I am slowly watching McCollum look exactly as it did that first day I walked in: empty. Only this time is different. I’m not stressing about finding the right lecture hall in the maze of a building, I’m not trying to figure out the best time to go eat a meal or worrying about which sorority to join and who I’ll make friends with. I’m stressing about finals and grades, I’m dying of hunger because cafeteria food is gross, and worst of all, I’m crying because for the next few months I have to leave all of my favorite people that I’ve met over the course of the year.
Growing up in northeast Kansas, KU is a popular choice for college partially because it is so close to home. That meant weekend trips to see my puppies, do free laundry and have delicious home-cooked meals were a monthly thing. Although I found myself telling my family how I needed to head back “home” on Sunday evenings. Lawrence slowly morphed into the place where I felt most at home. It is where I spent endless hours simply hanging out with the collective group of people that make up my college family. 1800 Engel Road.
I just wanted to say one last goodbye to McCollum Hall. Thank you for being my first home away from home. But now I realize how much easier it is to say goodbye to the building than it is the people in it, because they are the ones that really made this crazy dorm feel like home after all.
As a caravan of vehicles loaded with the students’ survival “essentials” arrived on Daisy Hill at 7 a.m. Aug. 21, teams of movers and empty carts stood ready to roll, welcoming Jayhawks—including the Class of 2018—back to campus.
Of course, the process began long ago for residence hall staff members. “All the practice and preparation is working out, so we’re getting them in. We’re trying to make sure folks are moving in as rapidly as they want to,” says Oprah Revish, assistant complex director for Ellsworth Hall.
Jim Higgins of Overland Park helped his son, Josh, settle in before the day warmed up. “We left about 6 a.m. All the heat’s moving in, so we’re happy to move in early. It’s going to be hot this afternoon.”
Students will attend community meetings in their residence and scholarship halls tonight, the first night of Hawk Week. Activities include ’Hawk Fest at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 23 in Parking Lot 91 (south of the football practice fields), followed by Traditions Night at 8 p.m. in Memorial Stadium. The Student Alumni Association is among the ’Hawk Fest sponsors.