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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Jayhawk Welcome Center?

The University of Kansas and the KU Alumni Association will usher in a new era of student recruitment with the construction of a Jayhawk Welcome Center at the entrance to the historic Jayhawk Boulevard corridor of the Lawrence campus.

Funded entirely through private gifts, the $21 million, 30,000-square-foot structure will connect to the Adams Alumni Center, headquarters of the KU Alumni Association, at 1266 Oread Ave. As the new starting point for all campus visits by prospective students and their families, the Jayhawk Welcome Center will house approximately 20 members of the KU Admissions staff. The project also will include the renovation of the Adams Center, which opened in 1983.

The Alumni Association and KU Endowment continue to seek donors to fund $8 million in remaining renovation costs, including $3 million to support new technology and $5 million to modernize the Adams Center and connect the existing structure to the new Welcome Center’s event spaces.

“The Jayhawk Welcome Center is going to be a real game-changer for our university,” Chancellor Douglas Girod said. “It will be a meeting place for every member of our community, including alumni, current students and, most importantly, prospective students who are visiting our campus and deciding whether to attend the University of Kansas.

“This new facility is crucial to our university given the headwinds we’re facing in higher education. Across the nation, we are seeing fewer high school graduates, and that trend will continue for the next decade. That puts a lot of pressure on enrollment, which is why the Jayhawk Welcome Center is so important to our university and our mission.”

You can read more about the Jayhawk Welcome Center here.

The project emerged in discussions among University leaders about the daunting enrollment challenges that confront KU and all of higher education. A shrinking population of high school graduates and the increasing cost burden on families already have affected enrollments nationally, and the pandemic only worsened the impact of these ongoing trends. KU must do all that it can to recruit top students in an increasingly competitive arena.

For many students, the campus visit is a critical factor in choosing a college, and it is one element of the admissions process that KU can control. In 2019 and 2020, students who visited campus enrolled at KU at twice the rate of those who do not visit.

There are rationale drivers of college choice (quality and affordability) and emotional drivers of college choice (fit and feel). The campus visit provides the best opportunity to address fit/feel issues. It’s a test drive. When students are asked why they selected a school, the most common replies address fit and feel: “It felt right.” “I could see myself going to school here.” “I was comfortable.”

The current KU Visitor Center no longer provides the ideal location or recruitment experience required in this new era of competition for students.

The location of the Adams Alumni Center—atop Mount Oread at the entrance to historic Jayhawk Boulevard—provides the perfect starting point for campus tours.

Since the Alumni Center opened in 1983, KU’s alumni population has grown from less than 200,000 to more than 350,000. In addition, the Alumni Association has transformed in the past 40 years to serve more students than ever before, through both the Student Alumni Network (now nearly 6,000 students, the largest in the Big 12, and KU’s largest campus student group) and the Jayhawk Career Network. Our annual giving program, the Presidents Club, includes nearly 600 alumni.

Fundraising for the project began more than four years ago, as KU leaders began to prepare for looming enrollment challenges.

The population of U.S. high school seniors will sharply decline in 2026, resulting from the steep reduction in births amid the Great Recession of 2008.

After the leadership gift of $14 million was secured in 2019, other donors enthusiastically stepped up to meet this pressing need.

Donors committed most of the funds before the pandemic, recognizing that the project addresses long-term challenges that will endure long after the current financial crisis.

The University’s vision must be bifocal—meeting today’s pressing needs while preparing for the future. Throughout the pandemic, KU has been challenged create the safest environment in which to carry out its teaching and research mission, but KU also must anticipate and position itself to thrive in the post-pandemic world. Healthy enrollments will be vital to future success.

We engaged 27 national board members, multiple KU partners, more than 100 students, and many of the donors who provided funds to make this project possible. Ultimately, we reached the consensus that the Welcome Center must capture the view from David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium to Fraser Hall, so the expansive glass front highlights the view—one of the best assets we have, particularly in our location at the entrance to the historic corridor of campus.

The building must appeal to future generations of Jayhawks. KU architecture students strongly advocated for a sleek, modern design and open spaces that could make full use of the latest digital technology to highlight KU stories and the Jayhawk experience.

The challenge with this project is preserving what Jayhawks love about the existing Alumni Center, while creating something attractive to the next generation of Jayhawks. The modern design incorporates the brick of the Center and the same limestone found on Snow, Budig Hall and Watson Library.

Essentially, we needed a design relevant for visitors from ages 18 to 80—a tall order. We hope that the experience inside the Welcome Center, emphasizing storytelling and large spaces for collaboration and celebration, will captivate future Jayhawks and alumni of all ages.

The Jayhawk Welcome Center is scheduled to open February 2023. Construction will take place throughout 2021 and 2022, and the Adams Alumni Center will remain closed during that time.

For media inquires contact:

Jennifer Jackson Sanner
Senior Vice President of Public Affairs
KU Alumni Association