Jayhawks experience island life in Greece and Turkey

Posted on Nov 4, 2015 in Alumni News and News

Flying Jayhawks: Island Life in Greece and Turkey, 2015
Ancient ruins, turquoise water, and iconic whitewashed buildings. I couldn’t have asked for anything more on my first adventure to Greece and Tukey. The tour company, Gohagan, chartered the beautiful brand new Ponant ship, Le Lyrial. After settling in and participating in the life boat safety drill, KU contingent met for dinner in the main dining room, where I was able to meet fellow Jayhawk travelers. They were easy to spot: our repeat travelers Stan and Suzi Suchman came prepared with a stand-up Jayhawk as the table centerpiece!

Our first stop was a morning walking tour of the archaeological site of Delos, Greece. It was amazing to see this windswept island with so many of the ruins intact. Intricate mosaic tile floors, marble column entryways, and sophisticated water systems of cisterns, sewage, and plumbing covered the city. Highlights of Delos included the Lions guarding a temple of Apollo and the archaeological museum that houses many of the relics, mosaics, and sculptures discovered on the island. That afternoon we sailed the short distance to another of the Cyclades islands of Mykonos. We were greeted by whitewashed houses, colorful doors, and windmills on the island, where we spent the afternoon exploring the winding marble streets and local shops.
Flying Jayhawks: Island Life in Greece and Turkey 2015

Santorini was the next stop on our trip. We arrived on the lagoon side of the island and rode buses to the top of the island to visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. During our drive, we saw the different striations of sediment from historic volcanic activity that make up the island. After the museum tour, we headed to the excavations of Akrotiri. A building was constructed over the ruins that have been excavated. The ancient ruins cover miles surrounding the main dig site, dubbed the ‘Minoan Pompeii,” and the town was preserved by volcanic ash. We enjoyed a local Greek lunch and walked around the iconic city of Fira high on top of the island. Note: I did not ride the donkeys, I took the cable car down to the dock even though they use the donkeys in the movies, right?

On to Rhodes in the Dodecanese islands and a visit to Old Town. The city was first built in 408 BC, and when the Knights of St. John arrived in 1309, they built the citadel and the Palace of the Grand Masters. We walked the Street of Knights and shopped Sokratus Street, which was a bazaar-like main street full of local shops and gypsies. The Palace of Grand Masters houses mosaics, art work, and carvings. It survived an earthquake and siege and was accidentally blown up in 1856. The Italians restored it in 1930 for Mussolini and King Victor Emmanuel.

Flying Jayhawks: Island Life in Greece and Turkey 2015

Patmos was a stop of religious history. We visited the fortress that is the Monastery of St. John the Divine. The walls are thick and over 15 meters high, built to stave off the attacking pirates. The monastery is adorned with marble floors and beautifully crafted wood-carved icons. The Cave of the Apocalypse is said to be where St. John the Divine made his home when he was exiled to the island by the Roman Emperor in 95 AD. It is here where he was believed to have received the words of God through a dream, and he instructed his disciple Prohoros to write down the Revelations which eventually became the Book of the Apocalypse.

Today, the cave is enclosed within a sanctuary where a convent is built. After a morning of history, we spent the afternoon in town relaxing on a beach and swimming in the Aegean Sea. Good bye beautiful Greek Isles, hello Turkey.

Kusadasi, Turkey is a resort town on the Aegean coast. We loaded the buses and headed to Ephesus. Highlighted by the Temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsus, and the Great Theater, the Terrace Houses were the most interesting to me. With their mosaic floors and plaster reliefs, it is amazing to me the amount of excavation and restoration that was involved.

Flying Jayhawks: Island Life In Greece and Turkey 2015

Near the port we saw a demonstration on how Turkish rugs are made and explored the streets and shops on our own. Canakkale, Turkey, is another seaport town with a short trip to the ancient ruins of Troy. Excavations have revealed nine ancient cities built on top of each other at Troy dating back to 3000 BC. It was interesting to see, and there are areas where you can see the grooves in the chariot ramp into the city. A visit to Istanbul rounded out the trip, with trips to the Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia’s, and the underground cisterns.

It was a historic and beautiful trip, and I had a wonderful time with our Jayhawk travelers. Elaine and I coincidentally bought the same ring with a Greek keys design. Suzi always had good ideas and input and had some great recommendations on gifts for my mom. Thank you to Suzi, Phyllis, Elaine, and Larry for indulging me and climbing up the Trojan horse for a few great photos. I can’t wait to see where my next Flying Jayhawks adventure takes me.

—Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership, co-hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip to Greece and Turkey in October. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2016 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.

See more pictures from this trip on Flickr.

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Traveling Tegs | Flying Jayhawks discover Alaska’s natural beauty

Posted on Sep 23, 2015 in Alumni News and News

Flying Jayhawks visit Alaska
My trip to Southeast Alaska was an adventure that didn’t disappoint. Once I landed in Sitka, we hit the ground running. I met up with Flying Jayhawks passengers who participated in the Denali National Park pre-trip option, and we joked that they were the last Jayhawks to see Mount McKinley. (The original name of Mount Denali was reinstated on August 30.)

There were four fellow Jayhawks on my trip: they were all good friends in college who still kept in touch. One couple met in the KU Marching Band; the men were members of the same fraternity and the women were sorority sisters while at KU. It was a lot of fun being able to spend time with them and see bonds that were first made on Mount Oread.

Flying Jayhawks visit Alaska

We watched a private Alaskan Native Tlingit performance from the Naa Kahidi Dancers before taking a ferry ride to embark on our ship, the Admiralty Dream. Our first day, we sailed the waters of Icy Strait to pick up our National Park Ranger and our Hoonah Tlingit Cultural Heritage Guide. They shared local stories and information about the area’s native inhabitants and the natural history and wildlife. We spotted sea lions, puffins, mountain goats, and a variety of birds on our way to see the stunning Margerie Glacier.

Next up we hiked Shaw Island on what they call a typical ‘silver’ Alaskan day, which means overcast, cold, and raining. The only stop we made at an actual dock was in Juneau where we visited Mendendall Glacier and hiked up to Nugget Falls. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking through downtown Juneau shopping, eating, and viewing the Sealaska Heritage exhibit. That evening brought an unexpected treat of whale watching. We saw humpback whales in close proximity, and one performed for us with pectoral waves. Then, just a short distance away, we saw a small pod of Orcas, or killer wales, including a large bull and a few females with calves.

Finally we had sun! Beginning with our trip to Tracy Arm, it was beautiful sunny weather for the rest of our trip. With the expert navigational skills of the Captain, we came within an eighth of a mile of the South Sawyer Glacier, which is the closest the boat came to the face of the Glacier out of fourteen trips this summer. No glacier calving, but we saw icebergs, growlers, and bergy bits (the size of ice that break off of the glaciers from largest to smallest).

Once we turned around, we stopped in Icy Falls to kayak and others went on a D.I.B. (Demaree Inflatable Boats) ride along the shore lines. The inflatable boats were the main way we were able to reach land—the areas we visited were so remote they either didn’t have a dock or there was a small area just large enough for the inflatable boats. Hidden Falls Hatchery, which seemed like a less-than-exciting attraction in the beginning, became one of the more interesting sights.

Flying Jayhawks visit Alaska

During our trip, we learned a lot about different types of salmon and how they migrate upstream to lay their eggs. We pulled up to the hatchery to see the pools of fish—and we saw bears. And not just a couple, but about twelve brown bears. No one from Orbridge or the ship had said anything about seeing bears on the trip, so it came as a complete surprise! A couple of cubs came close to our group, and people at the hatchery scared them off toward the other side of the stream so they wouldn’t get caught up in the net with the fish.

The trip ended with a hike on Lake Eva trail. One of my favorite pictures I took is of a blurry brown bear. It was coming up the path toward us, and I snapped the picture before getting out of his way. Thankfully the bear went a different direction! That evening was a wonderful Captain’s reception to celebrate the amazing ship crew, the naturalists from Orbridge, and the new friendships created on a memorable trip.

The final icing on the cake for this trip was waking in the middle of the night and going out on the boat’s deck to view the Northern Lights. I recommend visiting Alaska for anyone who loves to travel, it has natural beauty that will rival any place in the world.

—Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership, co-hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip through southeast Alaska in September. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2016 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.

See more pictures from this trip on Flickr

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Traveling Tegs | Great Journey lives up to its name

Posted on Aug 26, 2015 in Alumni News and News

Flying Jayhawks, Great Journey through Europe
The Flying Jayhawks trip “Great Journey Through Europe” was truly a great journey. We had a wonderful group of passengers that enjoyed the ten-day tour of Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands. Not to mention it was my first international trip!

The Swiss Alps are absolutely stunning, and pictures do not do them justice. We enjoyed taking our “flat Jayhawk” with us wherever we went and made sure to post pictures on social media, so everyone back home could see where we were. While the castles of Germany were breathtaking, the true highlight of the trip for me was Mt. Pilatus, where you feel as if you are on top of the world!

We took a gondola ride up to the top (and I only turned ghostly white once from my fear of heights) and rode the Cog Train down the mountain back to Lucerne, Switzerland, which sits at the base of the mountain. Both the trip up and down provided different, yet gorgeous views. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I am so thankful I was able to experience it with fellow Jayhawks!

See more pictures from this trip on Flickr.

—Kelsey Hill, coordinator of alumni programs, co-hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip “Great Journey through Europe” with Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership, in July. For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the 2016 schedule, visit www.kualumni.org/flyingjayhawks.

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Employees recognized for years of service

Posted on May 5, 2015 in Alumni News and News


KU’s annual event honoring faculty and staff for their years of service to the University will be held on Wednesday, May 6, at 1:30 p.m. in the Kansas Union Ballroom.

Service pins are given to 5, 10, and 15-year honorees, and service pins and gifts are given to employees with 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 45, and 50 years of service.

Attendees are invited to celebrate at a reception immediately following the ceremony.

We’re thrilled that eleven KU Alumni Association staff members will be honored at tomorrow’s ceremony, including Tim Brandt, who was director of the Adams Alumni Center for ten years before retiring two weeks ago.

Honorees include:

Stefanie Shackelford, vice president for alumni and membership records, 25 years
Marcia Wilson, office assistant, 25 years
Susan Younger, creative director, 20 years
Chris Lazzarino, associate editor, Kansas Alumni magazine, 20 years
Mike Wick, webmaster, 15 years
David Johnston, vice president of marketing and internet services, 15 years
Steven Hill, associate editor, Kansas Alumni magazine, 15 years
Mike Davis, senior vice president for donor relations, 15 years
Tim Brandt, recently retired director of the Adams Alumni Center, 10 years
Danny Lewis, director of alumni programs, 10 years
Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership, 10 years

Congratulations to our staff members and thank you for your dedication! We’ll honor their service again at our own employee recognition festivities next week, where each one—along with five-year student employee A.J. Templin— will be treated to the traditional poetic tributes our staff has come to know and love. You can find short biographies of our staff members on the staff directory page.

See a full list of  honorees at the 2015 Employee Recognition Ceremony here.

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Behind the scenes with Coach Bill Self

Posted on Mar 12, 2015 in Alumni News and News

When Tegan Thornberry joined the staff at the KU Alumni Association, we knew we had managed to lure a valued team member away from our friends over at Kansas Athletics. Tegan, d’05, g’10, who coordinates the Flying Jayhawks travel program and Future Jayhawks membership program for the Association, is not only great at her job and just plain awesome—she also bakes. Our confectionery gain was Athletics’ loss, until we needed a meeting with Coach Self. Getting time on Coach’s calendar is tough enough, and even harder during a tight conference race.

That is, unless you come with a plate of Tegan’s baked goodness: “Coach Self will see you now.”

In all seriousness, Tegan’s arranged reunion was also an opportunity for Coach Self to help out his buddy Kevin Corbett after offering to help sing the Association’s praises. True to his word, Coach has supported the Association—Bill and Cindy Self are Joint Life Members—by attending events like the Rock Chalk Ball, Jayhawk Roundup and Salina Steak Out through the years. His office frequently contributes auction items in support of alumni programs and scholarships. So he was all too happy to go on-camera with staff videographer Dan Storey to share why he’s a Proud Member. The cookies probably didn’t hurt either.

Watch Coach Self’s Proud Member video here.

Coach started his day with us, and he couldn’t have been more hospitable, proudly sharing some of the treasured items around his office, including those pictured below.

The Big 12 Digital Network also went behind the scenes with Coach Self for a tour of his office, which alumni can watch below. We’re thrilled to count Bill and Cindy Self among the thousands of alumni who are proud members of the KU Alumni Association.

Bill Self’s Coach’s Corner, Part 1:


Bill Self’s Coach’s Corner, Part 2:

– David Johnston

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Alumna and staff member experiences first Flying Jayhawks trip

Posted on Sep 14, 2014 in Alumni News and News

This post was written by Tegan Thornberry, assistant director of membership, after she returned from her first Flying Jayhawks trip. One of Tegan’s responsibilities at the Alumni Association is to oversee the Flying Jayhawks travel program. Tegan co-hosted the trip with Teri Harris, director of membership for the Alumni Association.

Flying Jayhawks trip, Tegan Thornberry | www.kualumni.orgI have been employed by the KU Alumni Association for nine months as assistant director of membership. One of my responsibilities is to oversee the administration of our Flying Jayhawks travel program for members. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to host one of our trips, a journey through the Baltic Sea. As you can imagine, it was the trip of a lifetime and quite the learning experience.

After traveling for a day we landed in Copenhagen, Denmark. Our group was greeted by the friendly Go Next staff and assigned to a bus while they took care of our bags. Copenhagen is a flat country, with an astronomical mark-up for vehicles, which meant there were bicycles everywhere! When it snows, they clear the bike lanes first. We enjoyed a three-hour bus tour of the city and checked out a few of the local sights: the Amalienborg Palace and the Little Mermaid. After our tour, we boarded the ship, passed our safety drill and enjoyed a cocktail reception with our group of 38 Flying Jayhawks.

Our next port was Warnemunde, Germany. After a three-hour bus ride on the Autobahn, we arrived in Berlin. Our local tour guide had just graduated from University and provided a wealth of knowledge about how the World Wars changed the city and the country. We made notable stops at the Allied Museum, Brandenburg Gate, the East side gallery of the Berlin Wall and Check Point Charlie. Our guide even arranged for some local beer sampling on the bus ride back to the ship to go along with our snacks.

After a day at sea, we made our way to Klaipeda, Lithuania. We visited the Theater Square and the Botanical Park. Inside the park we toured the Amber Museum, located in a 19th-century Neo-Renaissance-styled mansion where we learned about jewelry-making and saw prehistoric insects trapped in the amber (anyone else think of Jurassic Park?).

After getting back on the bus, we headed to the Basanavicius Promenade where we sampled the Lithuanian beer Svyturys before heading back to the ship. Later that evening we hosted a cocktail reception on the top deck of the ship for our Flying Jayhawks. At that point, we were out on the open water and cruising along; unfortunately neither Teri nor I had our sea legs (or stomachs for that matter).  That was the only time that the cruise was a little rough; it was smooth sailing the rest of the trip.

Latvia, Flying Jayhawks Baltic Treasures trip | www.kualumni.org

Riga, Latvia, is dubbed the “Paris of the East,” has a population of nearly one million people and is the biggest city in the Baltic States. We walked through parks and through the older part of the city viewing the 13th century and Art Nouveau architecture lining the streets. Kim Maddrey and I were always lagging behind trying to get just one more great picture! Latvia is known for their wool, so there were scarfs, hats, socks, and mittens everywhere. On one of our shopping excursions Fred Chana, e’67, was wearing a beer hat.

From Latvia we headed up to Helsinki, Finland. It was a little rainy at times, but it didn’t slow down our group of Jayhawks! Right off the ship there was a large, interesting statue in the port, advising visitors to not pollute the Baltic Sea. We walked through Senate Square, Helsinki’s National Theater and Gallery, the famous Rock Church, and ended in Sibelius Park. Fun facts we learned on our way: Finland is the home of Angry Birds and the first SMS text message.

Helsinki, Flying Jayhawks Baltic Treasures trip | www.kualumni.org

It was hard to believe our trip was almost over as we sailed to St. Petersburg, Russia, for three days. Russia was an interesting experience.  It was interesting to talk with our guides about their feelings about previously being under Soviet Communist rule. We saw massive housing structures that were once run by the government but are now privatized; they’ve gone to ruin because no one has taken care of them in the past 20 years. I toured Catherine’s Palace, which was the lavish summer residence of the imperial family. It was under renovation, but it was detailed and beautiful. The parquet floors consisted of 15 different types of wood, the amount of gold leaf was overwhelming and the artwork on the walls and ceilings were impressive. This didn’t even compare to her Amber Room where all the panels were made of amber, and the massive marble Grand Staircase.

We experienced a traditional Russian meal. It started out with a shot of vodka, and our tour guide explained how to do this the proper way: breathe in, take the shot, breathe out, take a bite of brown bread and then proceed with lunch. Champagne, borscht and beef stroganoff refueled us for the next stop: the Peter and Paul Cathedral which was completed in 1773. We also made our way to the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.

St. Petersburg, Flying Jayhawks Baltic Treasures trip | www.kualumni.org

On our second day in Russia, we toured the Hermitage and the Gold Room. The Hermitage was created by Catherine the Great as a place to get away and be a “hermit.” One of the benefits of traveling with the Flying Jayhawks is that we were granted access to the museum one hour before the public and had a scheduled time for a guided tour of the Gold Room. There were so many pieces of priceless artworks: Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Little Madonna” and a number of works by Rembrandt, Renoir, Degas, Monet, and Van Gogh were just a few of the highlights.

The third day I enjoyed the canal cruise and shopping. It was a cold and rainy day but we braved the canals. It was such a beautiful view to see the city from that perspective. And what would a trip to Russia be without Matryohka dolls and more vodka? I was even able to find a set of Kansas basketball players as a set of nesting dolls! Russia was quite the experience and it was interesting to hear about their history from local people.

Flying Jayhawks Baltic Treasures trip | www.kualumni.org

The end of our journey was definitely a case of “save the best for last.”  I had the lowest expectations for Tallinn, Estonia, but enjoyed it the most! I started the morning by touring the Kadriorg Park that was commissioned by Peter the Great. It is the summer home of two black swans that are on loan from the zoo. We went to the Song Festival Ground where up to 30,000 singers participate each year. It was reminiscent of the end of “The Sound of Music.” But, there’s a catch: to participate, you have to sing in the Estonian language.

As we packed up to head home, it was hard to believe the trip was over. We spent an hour on the bus from the port in Stockholm, Sweden, to the airport, and I saw the old Olympic Stadium on our way. It was a trip a lifetime. I have officially been bitten by the travel bug, and I can’t wait for my next adventure.

Thanks to Tegan for sharing a detailed account of her Flying Jayhawks experience! She also took a lot of pictures on the trip—549 to be exact! Watch the slideshow below or see the photos on Flickr. Alumni who participated in this adventure are welcome to download the photos for personal use.
Flying Jayhawks 2014: Baltic Treasures
Travel the world with fellow Jayhawks! Visit www.kualumni.org/travel for more information about upcoming trips and to sign up for emails about the Flying Jayhawks program.

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