After 19 different events in 16 different cities, the first KU Cares Month of Service brought Jayhawks closer to the communities they call home.
The KU Alumni Association set out to have participants in the Month of Service share the spirit of Thanksgiving by giving back, both in their networks and in the KU community.
A portion of all membership dues collected during the month of November was earmarked for the Wounded Warrior scholarship fund. Thanks to the generosity of those who joined, renewed, or donated, more than $5,500 will be given to the scholarship fund that helps qualified veterans and their family pursue their education at KU.
Continuing on the theme of an earlier post, we wanted to highlight some of the events where Jayhawks made a difference.
Wichita: Ronald McDonald House
Members of the Wichita Jayhawk Network came together to help those staying in the Ronald McDonald house. Volunteers brought, prepared and served dinner to the families with children in nearby hospitals.
Milwaukee: Fill the Freezer
Local KU alumni joined forces with the United Way to fight hunger at the first annual “Fill the Freezer” event. Network leader Jay Craig, b’85 g’87, brought area Jayhawk volunteers together with local chefs to prepare frozen meals for those in transitional housing and family support programs.
Phoenix: St. Vincent De Paul’s Watkins Kitchen
More than 15 Jayhawks gave their Saturday morning to prepare meals for the homeless at St. Vincent De Paul’s Watkins Kitchen. Phoenix Network Leader Chris Colyer, b’04 l’09, thanked everyone for representing KU and showing compassion for their community.
San Antonio: Haven for Hope
Area alumni put on their Jayhawk gear, along with aprons and gloves, and served food to those in need in downtown San Antonio. Network leader Morgan Bertram, d’02, thanked those who helped feed 383 at Haven for Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the homeless find a new beginning.
While the KU Cares Month of Service is over, Jayhawks can get together to give time and talents to their communities anytime! Visit the KU Cares page for more information, and reach out to your local network leaders. View our Flickr album of these events and more from the KU Cares Month of Service:
Wichita attorney Jeff Kennedy is all too familiar with the difficulties that result from inadequate estate planning—“I have been the administrator, the executor, of some people’s estates, and I don’t want to force that on anyone”—yet he has a confession to offer: In part because he and his wife, Patti Gorham, have no children, they had, until recently, never completed their own estate plans.
Spurred into action by KU Endowment’s Far Above campaign, which ended in June, they created an unrestricted, $250,000 estate gift to the KU Alumni Association, which Kennedy, j’81, has served as national chair and member of the Board of Directors and many years as an enthusiastic volunteer and leader of the Association’s Wichita network.
They left similar gifts to Washburn University’s law school, which they both attended, and Gorham’s undergraduate alma mater, the University of Montana.
Their gifts recognize the importance they place on higher education, and Kennedy’s longtime volunteer service reflects the concern he has for its future in Kansas.
As a stalwart volunteer for Jayhawks for Higher Education, the Alumni Association’s statewide legislative advocacy network, Kennedy has spent countless hours over the past decade reaching out to lawmakers in Topeka and encouraging others to do the same.
“I think it’s just that we were in the right place at the right time,” Kennedy says of JHE’s increased efforts amid threats to higher education funding. “We have been fairly vocal, and I think that will continue.”
Though he dreamed of becoming a lawyer since his boyhood in Pratt, where he was “one of those weird kids” who trekked to the local courthouse to watch trials, Kennedy’s education took a sudden detour late in his undergraduate years. With just 16 credit hours to be completed before he could walk down the Hill, Kennedy in 1972 decamped for Colorado, where he worked in Waterpik’s Fort Collins factory and spent two winters as a self-described ski bum. When he hurt his back during his “back-to-nature period” in Barber County, Kennedy in 1980 saw that it was time to return to Mount Oread and finish what he had started.
“I left KU after four years because I had decided that continuing to go to school, for me, was a really bad idea. I just needed to be crazy for a while,” Kennedy says from his office at Martin Pringle, where he spent 13 years as managing partner. “When I hurt my back I decided it was time to get serious about my life, so I came back and finish my degree at KU.”
His unconventional route through higher education served Kennedy well, and he suggests that others might do well to pay heed when they feel they might need to take a break before completing their education and moving toward lifelong careers.
“I think that in a lot of cases they check the next box, because they’ve been ingrained to be a student,” Kennedy says of high-achieving students who begin law school before being truly ready to commit themselves to the profession. “When I came back to school, I was a terrific student. I was a great student.”
Once reignited, his enthusiasm has yet to dim.
This donor profile originally appeared in the KU Alumni Association’s 2015-2016 Annual Report.
Fourteen sophomore students at Wichita North High School made valuable KU connections Sept. 20, when they were introduced to alumni who will serve as their mentors for next three years.
The group is part of the University’s new initiative, a product of the Office of Admission’s existing Helpful Alumni Working for KU (HAWK) program, to help underrepresented and minority students make a smooth transition from high school to college. The program was launched this spring in Wichita.
Participating students and their parents attended the induction ceremony, which was held at KU’s School of Medicine in Wichita and included appearances by Keon Stowers, c’15, a former KU football player who works for the Office of Admissions; Nate Thomas, KU’s vice provost for diversity and equity; and Baby Jay, who was on hand to take pictures with the students and their mentors.
Kim Madsen Beeler, c’93, j’93, g’99, who coordinates the HAWK program and has worked with alumni for years recruiting prospective students to KU, oversees the new Mentor Leadership Development program. She teamed up with Danielle Hoover, c’07, the Alumni Association’s assistant director of Wichita programs, to enlist area Jayhawks as mentors.
“These alumni are so passionate about KU, and they have told us for years they want to help,” Beeler says. “They want to make a difference and recruit great students.”
Students must have a GPA of at least 2.5 and complete an application and essay to be considered for the program. Those who are accepted are assigned mentors, who will coordinate opportunities for the students to shadow working professionals in various fields, participate in volunteer activities in the community and develop skills to be successful in the workforce, including learning how to fill out job applications, dress appropriately for interviews and create a résumé. In addition, the students will visit KU and participate in sports events, campus tours and discussion panels with current University students.
Hoover presented the opportunity to alumni on the Wichita Network board and was overwhelmed by their enthusiastic response. Five board members, Jim Spencer, c’82; Andy Ek, b’05, g’11; Monique Garcia Pope, c’96; Anna Ritchie, c’05, j’05, and Bob Nugent, c’77, l’80, signed up to be mentors, and other board members offered to host events for the students or help with their community service projects.
“One of the biggest initiatives on our board is to give back to the community,” says Hoover. “That’s a big passion for all of our board members. And it’s right in line with this initiative.”
Beeler hopes to expand the program at Wichita North High School next year and eventually include other schools in the area.
“This year we have 14 mentees, next year we’ll have another class, and we’ll just keep building,” she says. “The goal is to help students transition from high school to college and, hopefully, to KU. But also we want to engage our alumni, because they’re so important in recruitment. If we can get the alumni engaged and to help with recruiting, it’s a win-win for both of us.”
It’s not every day you get to see Baby Jay jump out of a giant birthday gift box, start a conga line and dance with Chancellor Gray-Little and former KU basketball coach Ted Owens. But that’s exactly what awaited guests at the Jayhawk Roundup on Saturday.
The annual event, now in its 14th year, took place once again at Murfin Stables in Wichita. More than 400 Jayhawk alumni, fans and friends attended to help celebrate KU’s Sesquicentennial at the birthday-themed party.
Guests enjoyed a VIP reception where they mingled with special guests Bill Self and Ted Owens, followed by dinner and dancing to a live band. Live and silent auctions also gave Jayhawks a chance to bid on unique items, including a pair of tickets to the KU vs. Oregon State men’s basketball game at the Sprint Center, a football autographed by Steve Young and Jerry Rice, and a variety of KU-themed items.
This year’s centerpieces, custom-painted birthday boxes decked out in KU colors, were also available for purchase—just in time for holiday gift-giving!
The Jayhawk Roundup is the largest gathering of KU faithful in Wichita. Proceeds from the event help enhance alumni programs, including student recruitment, career networking and our alumni lobbying program, Jayhawks for Higher Education.
A special thank you to Jayhawk Roundup hosts Dave and Janet Murfin, event chairs Glenn and Camille Nyberg, decorations chair Chris Jeter, and our Jayhawk Benefactors: Kansas Athletics, A. Scott and Carol Ritchie, Linda and John T. Stewart III and Security 1st Title.
And to all the loyal volunteers who make this event happen every year: we couldn’t do it with you! Thank you for your dedication.
Wichita Jayhawks spent time yesterday not only building relationships with each other, but building a house for Habitat for Humanity.
“It was a fun, productive day with a great KU team,” said Margaret Lafferty, a member of the Presidents Club, adding “I had a good work out with that hammer!”
Jayhawks who volunteered their time and talents include Wichita Network board members Chris Howell, Byron Watkins, Anna Ritchie, and Jim Spencer; Danielle Hoover, assistant director of Wichita programs for the KU Alumni Association; and Mike Parmley of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita.
Stormy weather didn’t stop Wichita Network Jayhawks from proudly representing KU in a college and career night for AVID students, held earlier this month at Marshall Middle School in Wichita. Danielle Hoover, c’07, assistant director of Wichita programs for the Association, and Wichita Network volunteers Monique Pope, c’96, Geron Bird, c’97, l’01, and Janet Murfin, d’75, were on hand for the event, which helped young people learn about opportunities available to them after high school.
Marshall Middle School, a diversely populated school in the heart of Wichita, is one of more than 50 schools in Kansas that implement the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to prepare students, especially those traditionally underrepresented in higher education, for success in high school, college and beyond.
“The students were very eager and willing to get information,” Hoover says. “They asked a lot of questions about what KU is like and what kind of programs we offer.”
Although tornado sirens in the area temporarily interrupted the event, the turnout was great and the event was a huge success, Hoover says. Most of the students attending were seventh- and eighth-graders from the middle school, although a few students from neighboring Wichita North High School also participated.
“These students look at college as a way of changing their lives,” Hoover says. “At some college fairs you hear students say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to college. That’s just what you do.’ It’s a standard. But with these students, they might be the first person in their family to go to school.”
Although the Wichita Jayhawks were earnest in their message to students about attending KU, the event wasn’t without its share of fun and games. When Hoover and the other school representatives stepped away from their tables to introduce themselves to parents and students, the Wichita Network volunteers jumped at the chance to have some fun with the Kansas State University representative.
“When we came back in, Janet, Geron and Monique had decorated his table with Jayhawks,” Hoover says. “He was a good sport about it, though.”
Sarah Deer, a professor at the William Mitchell College of Law and the recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” for her work on sexual violence against native women, visited campus Thursday to help celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the February Sisters movement at KU.
Deer, c’96, l’99, was the featured speaker at an event sponsored by the women, gender and sexuality studies department, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of Law and the Institute for Policy and Social Research to commemorate the group of 30 women known as the February Sisters. On Feb. 4, 1972, they occupied the East Asian Studies building until KU administrators agreed to hear their demands.
A list of six demands included a call for free day care for students with children, the hiring of more women for faculty and administrative jobs, stronger recruitment of female high school graduates and the creation of a women’s studies department “controlled and chiefly taught by women.” KU’s women’s studies program, launched in 1973, and Hilltop Child Development Center, started in 1972, grew out of the group’s protest and subsequent work to see the changes through.
Deer—a Wichita native who earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from KU—welcomed the chance to return home and acknowledged feeling a personal connection with the group.
“In particular, 1972 is the year of my birth,” she said. “I will be turning 43 this year, and it’s special to have that connection with the February Sisters … to know that that generation of women, my mother’s generation of women, stood up for so much and took so many risks to make change. That’s so inspiring to me, and I think you’ll see how some of that plays out in the work that I do today.”
In her presentation, “Sovereignty of the Soul: Native Feminism and Violent Crime,” Deer spoke of her work on behalf of native women, who experience rates of sexual violence 2.5 times higher than the national average. Federal data shows that 34 percent of Native American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped at some point in their lives. Having traveled extensively to tribal lands, Deer said, “My experience is that this data is an understatement; that in fact, the rate is much, much higher.”
After outlining the jurisdictional restrictions that limit tribal nations from prosecuting crimes on their lands, the MacArthur winner noted the passage of two laws that have strengthened the rights of native women: The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
“I was privileged to be in the room for both signings,” Deer said, before sharing with her KU audience video clips of the moving stories told at each signing ceremony by women who had been victims of sexual assault. “Both were special moments.”
In response to a question about her plans to more broadly share her views on the issues touched on in her talk, Deer noted that she has a book coming out in October called The Beginning and End of Rape In America: Confronting Sexual Violence In Native America.
“I wanted to call it Sovereignty of the Soul, because that’s my thing,” Deer said, but she agreed to her publisher’s wishes for a stronger, more provocative title. “It’s nerve-wracking to have a book coming out with that title. Like I think I have all the answers. I’m more about posing questions.”
It’s time to fuel the the frenzy of football season! The KU Alumni Association has partnered with KU Athletics to bring ‘Football in February’. Kansas football head coach, David Beaty and his coaching staff are flocking to Jayhawk fans across Kansas with fantastic festivities throughout February.
The 2015 Kansas ‘Football in February’ events will include a KU Signing Day Party and a Football Fan Fest in Lawrence along with stops in Hays, Hutchinson, Topeka, Kansas City and Wichita.
‘Football in February’ begins Wednesday, Feb. 4, with a Signing Day Party at Abe and Jake’s Landing in Lawrence from 5-8 p.m. Beaty and his KU coaching staff will be in attendance to meet and greet fans, as well as speak to the crowd about the newly-signed Jayhawk class. The Signing Day event is free and will include appearances by Big and Baby Jay, a photo booth and other KU promotional items.
The next stop on the ‘Football in February’ schedule is the KU Football Fan Fest Saturday, Feb. 7, in Anschutz Pavilion from 4-6:30 p.m. KU Alumni Association #ProudMembers, Williams Fund members and football season ticket holders will be admitted at 4 p.m. (with proof of membership* or ticket purchase). The doors will open at 5 p.m. for the general public.
Beaty, the coaching staff, and past and present KU football players will be in attendance at the Football Fan Fest and will be available for autographs. The event will feature a fun zone, face painter, balloon artists, the KU Band and Spirit Squads, Big and Baby Jay and much more.
Football Fan Fest will wrap up just in time for fans to move next door to Allen Fieldhouse for Kansas women’s basketball’s ‘Jayhawks for a Cure’ game against Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. The Jayhawks will don brand-new white uniforms with pink trim in honor of the event, which benefits Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the KU Cancer Center. Tickets for the ‘Jayhawks for a Cure’ game start at $5 and for every fan in attendance, a $1 will be donated to the ‘Jayhawks for a Cure’ beneficiaries. Upon entrance to Allen Fieldhouse, fans will receive pink t-shirts while supplies last.
Following the opening two events, ‘Football in February’ will tour the state of Kansas primarily for happy hour events, in addition to one luncheon in Hays. All Jayhawk alumni, fans and friends are invited to events along the tour. Beaty, members of his coaching staff and special guests from the athletics department and Alumni Association will be at every stop. Fans can pick up 2015 commemorative football items and have a chance to win autographed merchandise and tickets.
A full listing of the 2015 Kansas ‘Football in February’ event details are as follows:
A chilly spring evening isn’t ideal weather for a tailgate and baseball game, but the game must go on. Each season the Kansas baseball team plays a home and away series with the Wichita State Shockers. Earlier this season the Jayhawks hosted the Shockers at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence and came away with a victory, 4-2. The Shockers hosted the Jayhawks April 29 at Eck Stadium in Wichita, and the game ended with a Jayhawk win, 10-3.
The tradition involves more than the game. The Wichita Chapter of the KU Alumni Association and the Williams Education Fund of Kansas Athletics host an annual tailgate before the contest, and more than 40 Jayhawk alumni and Williams Fund members gathered this year with friends and family to enjoy great food and to support their team. Carrie Wiegand, c’99, of Wichita says, “This tailgate was a great opportunity to meet up with fellow alumni and to support our team in our hometown.”
Head coach Ritch Price and senior pitcher Jordan Piche spoke briefly and thanked the brave fans who weathered the cold. Lynn Loveland, the KU Alumni Association’s assistant director of programs for Wichita, says, “I love seeing all the red and blue at Eck Stadium! Many KU fans cheer for WSU, unless we are playing them—then it is KU all the way.”
It’s that time again– time to prove you bleed crimson and blue and donate blood!
The KU Blood Drive Committee, Community Blood Center and the American Red Cross have partnered to sponsor a campus-wide blood drive this week. Today, you can stop by and visit us at the Adams Alumni Center between 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and donate blood. All presenting donors receive a free KU T-shirt, while supplies last.