Last November, we encouraged Jayhawks to thank the KU mentors who made a difference in their lives. Marc Langston was inspired to pay tribute to his friend and mentor, Thomas R. Docking, c’76, l’80, g’80, who died last August. Langston, c’08, currently resides in Washington, D.C and is an annual member of the KU Alumni Association.
Internship leads to mentor
During high school, I was a summer intern at the Law Offices of Morris Laing in Wichita. Within my first week, Tom treated me to lunch. We discovered a mutual passion for politics, film, art history and Kansas. Over the course of that summer, I gained a mentor, a champion, and a true friend.
Tom held great interest in my aspirations and willingly shared his sagacity with a receptive 17-year-old. Tom persistently encouraged me to attend his alma mater, KU, versus other out-of-state schools I considered. I knew then how fortunate I was to be counted among his friends, but I could not imagine how profoundly influential Tom would be in my life. Thankfully, I heeded his advice and attended KU.
Tom’s daughter, Margery, was already at KU, and we enjoyed attending events together at the Dole Institute of Politics. Tom encouraged me to continue exploring the intersections between politics and art history. I earned a B.A. in political science and art history. He was thrilled when hearing from me abroad while I explored Turkey and Egypt, always eager to discuss my impressions of places he too admired. When I became involved in Student Senate and Kansas politics, I frequently sought Tom’s advice and counsel.
Tom’s mentorship proved extremely influential while at KU as well as during and after law school. Tom kept track of my progress, changes in my career, and continued to offer sage advice in times of need. My inbox is full of emails from Tom arranging times to meet when I would be in Wichita. I envisioned being able to continue to share my ups and downs with my friend and mentor, Tom, for at least the next 20 years.
An enduring legacy
Tom’s passing in August 2017 jolted those who were privileged to be mentored by him. We all know that Tom is survived by a loving family with an earnest love for KU. Although few of us are in a position to match the generous contributions made by the Docking family toward scholarships, faculty retention, and improvements to the campus, I elected to join the KU Alumni Association.
By supporting KU, even in this small way, I am taking the first step in furtherance of Tom’s enduring legacy of mentorship. I encourage others to follow Tom’s lead in continuing their support of KU and serving as mentors to prospective, current, and alumni Jayhawks.
Want to share your story about a Jayhawk who inspired you? Email us at email@example.com. And stay tuned—the KU Alumni Association will launch the Jayhawk Career Network this spring, which will provide additional mentorship opportunities for students and alumni.
Joseph Ducreux’s painting “Le Discret,” one of the Spencer Museum’s iconic and most-popular paintings, will headline an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, beginning in May. This article was originally published in issue no. 2, 2017, of Kansas Alumni magazine.
Is he shushing noisy children, warning of dire political dangers, or something else? Even the title of Joseph Ducreaux’s “Le Discret” hints at ambiguity. Silence? Discretion? Shades of both?
Such range of content within an otherwise uncomplicated image helped establish “Le Discret,” which has been on near-continuous display at KU since it s951 acquisition, as an icon of the Spencer Museum of Art’s collection. Now it will take its charms to a larger audience as the headliner of “America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting,” an exhibition from May 21 to Aug. 20 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
“This work has a lot of personality,” says Susan Earle, the Spencer’s curator of European and American art. “It’s a great way to represent us, to share that Kansas is a place with a lot of interesting culture that people may not be aware of. That might just be a revelation to some people.”
As First Painter to Queen Marie Antoinette, Ducreux feared for his life during the French Revolution and fled for a time to London. Forced afterward to reinvent himself, Ducreux ventured beyond the norms of high-society portraiture by painting self-portraits that depicted expressions then rare in fine art: yawning, laughing, crying, mocking, shushing.
Earle describes the 1791 painting as a sort of 18th-century selfie, which helps explain Ducreux’s emergence as an internet superstar. The painter, who died in 1802, has two Twitter accounts and in 2013 won Reddit’s Tournament of Memes. “It hits that chord as a selfie in a way that others don’t,” Earle says. “This one somehow speaks to people.”
Jonathan Ng, c’03, j’03, earned degrees in Spanish and strategic communications and currently works as an attorney advisor for the Office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington, D.C. Originally from Leawood, Kansas, he now resides in Arlington, Virginia. He is a Life Member of the KU Alumni Association.
I became a Jayhawk because…
As a native Kansan, it’s the flagship institution of our state, and I wanted to go to the best place possible while still maintaining close ties to my home. But no matter where you go, the quality of your experience depends on what you’re willing to put into it. KU provides all the opportunities that you could ever hope for in a full college experience — to be challenged academically at a nationally-recognized research institution, to cheer on elite athletic programs and to spend four years on a beautiful campus in a quintessential college town.
How has KU propelled you into your current career?
KU represents a true microcosm of our larger global society by reflecting the diversity you will encounter in your personal and professional lives. It’s large enough to find other students and groups who share your common interests, but it’s also diverse enough to bring you in touch with, and to teach you to be open and empathetic to other views, opinions and worldviews that are different from yours. It’s ultimately those “soft” skills of empathy, adaptability and compromise that help you excel in your career that you learn by immersing yourself in a rich and full college experience that a place like KU offers.
How did KU push you to try harder or to try something new?
As a freshman, I got involved in Student Government because I had an interest in shaping public policy and loved the democratic process of governance. By my junior year, I ended up running for and being elected student body president. Winning the election was obviously a great experience, but just putting myself in the arena regardless of victory or defeat was one of the most formative experiences of my life.
My best advice for college students…
Practice being present. College is not simply a stepping stone to your career. It is a rewarding and formative experience in itself. There’s a reason why many people form their best friendships and memories during their college years. Once you start working, society has a way to differentiate and separate us with arbitrary labels. In college, everyone is essentially on the same playing field, which enables you to get to know people for who they are, not what they do. Enjoy it for what it is. Don’t be in such a hurry to graduate.
What’s your favorite spot on campus? and/or What spot do you return to whenever you’re back on the Hill?
I always love returning to the Campanile and the view that overlooks Potter Lake, Memorial Stadium and the Kansas Union.
What’s the best KU tradition?
By far, the best KU tradition is the Rock Chalk Chant during the final moments of KU basketball games. It’s distinctly and uniquely KU. It’s a tradition you grow up watching on TV, participating in as a student at games in Allen Fieldhouse, and continue chanting as alumni long after you have graduated.
Reveal a “best kept” secret about the KU campus or Lawrence.
Ryan Colaianni, j’07, c’07, is vice president of Edelman in Washington, D.C. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, where he leads the Washington, D.C. Alumni Network and has hosted numerous student recruitment and alumni events. In 2011, he received the Dick Wintermote Award, which honors network volunteers who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership to their network and the alumni association. Ryan is a Life Member and Presidents Club member and is also a member of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors.
I became a Jayhawk because…
I knew that I wanted to study journalism at a university that allowed me to write for the student paper my freshman year. I started working for the Kansan before my first class and by my sophomore year, I was traveling the country covering the KU football team. By my junior year I was covering the men’s basketball team. I was writing professionally for the Lawrence Journal-World and the Topeka Capital Journal before I graduated.
How has KU propelled you into your current career?
The hands-on experience I gained at KU through a variety of activities, including the University Daily Kansan, and spending a summer as an orientation assistant helped develop my writing skills and instilled an ability to meet any deadline.
Where is the most unexpected place you’ve ever heard someone yell, “Rock Chalk”?
I’ve heard it everywhere! From Copenhagen to Florence to Jamaica, there is not a place I have been while wearing a KU shirt that I haven’t heard “Rock Chalk.” That bird helps make real connections in the places you least expect it.
What made your degree program distinctly KU?
I visited a number of journalism schools while looking at colleges and most provided a bland presentation with dozens of other prospective students. When I visited KU, I toured with just one other potential student and got to meet real students and professors to hear firsthand how I could succeed at KU. That experience carried over throughout my four years.
How did KU push you to try harder or to try something new?
I didn’t know a soul when I arrived at KU from the east coast. The campus community was unbelievably accepting, and I quickly had a number of different niches and groups to be a part of. From Greek life, to my classes, to the campus activities I picked, I was always challenged to go further and try something new.
My best advice for college students is…
Go to class. It will save you hours of pain when you try to cram for that exam or write that paper.
Artist and author Chuck Fischer, famous for his beautifully designed Christmas-themed pop-up books, recently released The White House Pop-Up Book in honor of the most famous residence in the world. The book features eight hand-painted rooms and their treasures, and the format encourages learning and interaction.
Fischer, f’77, will be in Washington, D.C., later this week to sign copies of the new book. On Thursday, July 23, he’ll be at the White House Visitor Center (1450 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and at the Newseum Store (555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) from 2:30-4 p.m.
On Friday, meet Fischer at the Library of Congress Store (101 Independence Ave SE) from 10-11:30 a.m. Later that day, he’ll be at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Store (14th Street and Constitution Ave. NW) from 1-3 p.m.
As he has each year since his election in 2010, U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, c’99, l’02, of Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, once again participated in a recent Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park proudly outfitted in his alma mater’s full baseball kit—as was his cross-border colleague and baseball teammate, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, of Missouri’s 6th Congressional District.
The annual charity event, where the capital’s partisan rivalries play out only on the field, benefits the Washington Liberty Council, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.
Looking for a way to connect with fellow Jayhawks, expand your professional and social networks and learn a little KU history at the same time?
Don’t miss the latest program from KU Libraries and the KU Alumni Association: Evolution of the Jayhawk.
At this one-of-a-kind event, you’ll have the opportunity to see and hold rare KU archival materials that showcase the fascinating origins and the evolution of our beloved Jayhawk. View some of the most exclusive and intriguing iterations of our distinctive mascot, while making connections with fellow Jayhawks.
Events are currently scheduled for the following locations:
If the past week is any indication, the ’Hawk Days of Summer are still going strong.
Alumni Association staff members hosted a boat cruise with all-you-can-eat crabs in Washington, D.C.; a behind-the-scenes tour of Madison Square Garden in New York City; a harbor cruise Charleston, South Carolina; a wine tasting in Springdale, Arkansas; and a day at the Topeka Zoo. We also co-hosted three events with KU Libraries and their popular Naismith artifacts exhibit in Huntersville and Raleigh, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.
Our socially-savvy staff and volunteers posted updates and pictures online during each of the events, so we put them together in one place for easy consumption. Check it out below, or click here to see the story on Storify.
A few highlights: the most spirited KU fan ever, a yet-to-be-explained food fight involving baked beans, and the appearance of Caitlin Wise, our former coordinator of student programs who now lives in the Washingon, D.C. area. Enjoy!
This event is part of the ‘Hawk Days of Summer, the KU Alumni Association’s annual summer sojourn across the country and around the world. The 90-day series of events resulted from a determination to make the most of the summer months. The 2014 tour kicked off on Saturday, May 17, and includes picnics, receptions, baseball games and more. Visit our online calendar to find upcoming events near you.
Life member Pam Swedlund, c’86, sent us a note this spring to tell us about the power of a sticker—our Jayhawk stickers, to be exact.
I just wanted to let you know I was in Washington, D.C. for my niece’s ninth birthday. I’ve had her, along with her younger sister, enrolled in Future Jayhawks since the program began. While I was there, Kate received a birthday card from Baby Jay. She saw the envelope and said, “Oh! I got a card from Baby Jay. I hope there are stickers in it!”.
She opened the card and was very happy that Baby Jay wished her a happy birthday and sent her stickers. Her sister Ava, who turns six in March, said “I hope Baby Jay doesn’t forget my birthday – I LIKE that Baby Jay!”. I think the program is working!
On another note, Kate had one of the Jayhawk stickers on her school notebook. Another girl in her class asked, “How do YOU know about Baby Jay?” Turns out, her parents are alumni of KU, so my brother and his wife (who are alumni as well) have been able to connect with fellow Jayhawks in D.C.
Ah, the power of a sticker.
If you have a youngster who loves Baby Jay, check out our Future Jayhawks program! It’s open to kids from birth through high school, and members receive an exclusive, KU-themed gift each year along with a birthday card from Baby Jay and other special goodies and invitations throughout the year.
Summer might be winding down– fall classes start in three short weeks!– but the ‘Hawk Days of Summer tour is still going strong as August begins.
Recently, Danny Lewis, director of alumni programs spent several days on the east coast visiting Jayhawks in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland. KU’s vice chancellor for public affairs, Tim Caboni, also attended all three events to share news from the Hill with alumni, fans and friends.
More than 100 Jayhawks attended the events, which included brewery tours at Yard’s Brewing Company in Philadelphia– which recently made Men’s Fitness Magazine’s list of America’s top brewery tours— and Port City Brewery in Alexandria, Va. (pictured at right), followed by the annual alumni gathering hosted by Chuck, c’63, l’66, and Pam Hewitt at their home in Severna Park, Md.
One of the highlights from the event at the Hewitts’ home was a cruise on the Severn River past the U.S. Naval Academy (click here to see the photo that Caboni posted on Twitter).
David Healy, j’73, posted photos from the afternoon, taken by Bill Dean, on his website. Click here if you want to be jealous of everyone who enjoyed the beautiful beach house, complete with a tiki bar and six-foot inflatable Jayhawk!