I am excited to announce that Travis Goff is joining the University of Kansas as our new director of athletics.
Travis brings more than 16 years of experience in athletics administration at the Division I level, most recently at Northwestern University, where he serves as deputy director of athletics and assistant vice president. In this role, he is a member of the department’s executive staff responsible for all high-level decisions and is a sport administrator for the football, volleyball and baseball programs. Before joining Northwestern, he served as associate athletics director for external affairs at Tulane University and worked in athletics development here at KU, where he earned his undergraduate degree.
Our search for an athletics director during the past several weeks resulted in conversations with a number of outstanding candidates, which speaks well of KU’s reputation on the national stage. Travis stood out due to his experience, his reputation as a man of integrity, and his demonstrated ability to connect with faculty, staff, alumni and donors.
I am especially impressed with Travis’ vision for KU. Travis understands the challenges we face and the changing landscape of collegiate athletics. At the same time, he is well-positioned to help us build on our recent successes in student-athlete healthcare, diversity and inclusion, and student-athlete academic achievement. The fact that he is a Jayhawk himself is an added bonus and will undoubtedly serve him well as he moves Kansas Athletics forward.
Travis will begin his new role immediately. I look forward to introducing him to the KU community at a news conference Wednesday, April 7 at 10 a.m. at the Lied Center.
I greatly appreciate the faculty, staff, alumni and friends who were instrumental to the process that helped bring Travis to KU. I especially want to thank our team of alumni advisors – Linda Ellis Sims, Ray Evans, John Ballard and Wayne Simien – each of whom brought tremendous expertise and passion to this process. I also want to thank Kurt Watson for providing strong counsel and stability as interim director of athletics.
This is an exciting day for the University of Kansas. We are delighted to have someone of Travis’ caliber joining our university, and I am confident that Kansas Athletics is in good hands under his leadership. Please join me in welcoming Travis, his wife, Nancy, and their children – Ellie, Carly, and Graham – to Lawrence.
Nicole Reiz is a program manager at the KU College Office of Graduate Affairs. Reiz has worked at the University since 2007 and has earned three degrees (c’07 g’11 PhD’17). Nicole can help students with applying & navigating a graduate degree, resume review, transitioning from graduate school into your career and more. Connect with Nicole on KU Mentoring.
What do you do at your job?
Broadly speaking, I support graduate student professional development and our strategic communications to graduate students about everything from funding opportunities to career development resources and fun events and community gatherings. More specifically, every day is a bit different. Some days I’m hosting workshops on various aspects of graduate student life and professional development. Other times I’m meeting with graduate students to help them discover and explore various career paths that may be a good fit for their interests and skills.
I also collaborate with units across campus to develop events to meet graduate student needs, support students in grant writing, crafting effective resumes, learning about hybrid career paths in the academy, and learning about how to give a perfect TedTalk. I’m also responsible for our strategic communications to graduate students which includes everything from website design to newsletters and social media so we can alert our students to important resources and events.
How do you support KU graduate students?
Most directly, I provide one-on-one career support for graduate students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who are interested in careers beyond the tenure track – which includes career exploration and career assessment to help students understand the vast array of careers that are open to them, helping student craft effective job documents for non-academic careers, and helping students build their professional networks. I also teach a number of graduate-level courses in professional development and career preparation.
Perhaps a little more indirectly, I do a lot of our strategic communications to graduate students about various resources and opportunities both on and off campus to support their professional development and also finding their community while they’re here. This includes building a new student facing website for graduate students, creating and sending our bi-monthly newsletter to all of the grad students in the College, and managing our social media channels.
Who was mentor for you during graduate school? How did they help you?
I had a number of mentors while I was in grad school, including my two dissertation advisors, Dr. Shannon O’Lear and Dr. Steve Egbert. Both were incredibly supportive of my rather depressing research project and crucially were really supportive of my desire to pursue a career in the public sector which meant I took advantage of some opportunities of working off campus for an NGO and a few internships. While this meant less writing and research time so the writing of my dissertation took a bit longer, they understood how important these experiences were to preparing me for the career paths I was pursuing.
Kathy Porsch, my supervisor in the Hall Center’s Grant Development Office made a huge impact on the last few years of my program – teaching me the ins and outs of research and grant development and research administration which led to my current position in the College Office of Graduate Affairs.
Favorite KU graduate school memory?
I have two – the first being the year we had a team of grad students and faculty from the geography department for the Brew to Brew marathon race from KC to Lawrence. It was such a hot and chaotic day, we learned not everyone knew how to drive a Prius, and had a really fun time running the route through a lot of funky urban and rural geography.
The second one is walking across the stage at the Lied Center during my PhD Hooding ceremony where both of my dissertation advisors were able to jointly hood me – it’s a really special moment that celebrates the end of a really long, difficult road in pursuing and finishing a doctoral project and dissertation (mine was on international sexual violence and rape laws, so there were many difficult days doing the research and writing) and the start of the next stage of my career journey.
Need a mentor? Want to serve as a mentor?KU Mentoring is open to students, alumni, faculty and staff, and friends of the University of Kansas. Professionals who are looking for opportunities to connect with KU and provide assistance to Jayhawks are also welcome. Learn more about KU Mentoring.
The University of Kansas announced today that hall of fame men’s basketball head coach Bill Self has signed a lifetime contract with the Jayhawks. His current contract, which was set to expire next March, is being replaced with a new five-year rolling agreement that automatically adds one year at the conclusion of each season for the remainder of his career.
A copy of the redacted contract is available here.
Statement from Chancellor Doug Girod:
“For almost 20 years, Coach Self has embodied the spirit and tradition of the University of Kansas, leading our men’s basketball program to a national championship, 15 Big 12 titles and 17 NCAA Tournament appearances. We believe in Coach Self and we believe in the future of our program under his leadership, and we are thrilled that he will continue to be a Jayhawk for the rest of his coaching career.”
Statement from Interim Director of Athletics Kurt Watson:
“Bill Self has meant a tremendous amount to the University of Kansas and our entire Lawrence community throughout his 18 seasons. He has changed the lives of so many young men that have played for him throughout his nearly 30 years as a head coach. I have known Bill for many years, but working closely with him over the past few weeks in my current role has shown me even more so on a daily basis how deeply he cares about this program. We are certainly proud that he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at KU in 1985 and that this new contract will ensure he finishes his coaching career here as well.”
Statement from Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Self:
“I want to extend my sincere appreciation to Chancellor Girod, Kurt Watson, and the rest of the leadership at KU for their belief and faith in me to provide this lifetime contract. Every day, I am reminded just how fortunate I am to lead this storied program and there truly is no place else I would rather be. As we continue to work through the challenges facing our program, we look forward to moving ahead and focusing on our bright future. I would also like to express my gratitude to our alumni and donors, as well as the best fans and students in the nation, that have supported my family and me for the past 18 seasons. I’m excited to remain your basketball coach and compete for many championships in the future.”
I am writing to inform you of a leadership change in Kansas Athletics.
Earlier today, Director of Athletics Jeff Long announced he is stepping down from his position. Jeff and I spoke at length last night, and while I know he would have loved to stay here many more years, I respect his selfless decision to step down so that we can move Kansas Athletics in a different direction.
I want to wholeheartedly thank Jeff for his service to KU. When we hired Jeff, he was charged with modernizing our athletics department and ensuring our coaches and student-athletes continue to have the resources they need to succeed. This was no easy task, and he far exceeded our expectations. Jeff guided Kansas Athletics to progress in student-athlete healthcare, diversity and inclusion, and student-athlete academic achievement, all while managing significant challenges not of his own making. Most important, Jeff was unwaveringly dedicated to students, coaches and staff, and he represented KU with integrity and compassion. For that, we thank him, and we wish him the very best.
I have asked Kurt Watson, one of KU’s most trusted advisors, to serve as interim director of Kansas Athletics. I have spoken with Kurt about my expectations for the coming days, and I am confident he will provide strong leadership and stability during this transition.
We will immediately begin our search for a new athletics director. I will lead the process with the assistance of a search firm and four alumni advisors, each of whom have experience in collegiate athletics: Linda Ellis Sims, Ray Evans, John Ballard and Wayne Simien. Each of these loyal Jayhawks will bring tremendous expertise and passion to the search, and I know their counsel will benefit the process. We will move quickly but judiciously, and my hope is to have a new athletics director in place within the next few weeks.
Once a new athletics director is in place, that individual will determine next steps related to our football coach position. To assist the new athletics director make that determination once he or she arrives, I am assembling a committee of advisors who will be ready to help when called upon.
I understand time is of the essence and that our football student-athletes are eager to know who will be guiding them. But we are making long-term decisions on an athletics director and a football coach, and we cannot sacrifice the quality of a search simply for expediency. While there will be a lot of speculation regarding potential candidates for both searches, I urge Jayhawks to have faith in the process and in those who are devoting their time to assist.
I know the past week has been challenging for those of us who love Kansas Athletics, but I am heartened by the passion of our university community. Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with Jayhawks to hear their perspectives on KU. A common theme in these conversations is that we must strive for excellence in all areas, including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our mission as a flagship research university. That perspective will serve us well as we identify our next leader of Kansas Athletics.
This most-unusual school year started in a most-unexpected fashion, when we were joined at The Wheel’s first chicken-fried steak lunch by a fit young trekker making his way from Delaware to California. And now, a happy update: Keith Doubman, who began his journey May 17, on Feb. 22 posted a pic of his trail-weary boots in the Pacific sands.
After heading south from Mount Oread, Doubman turned west at Ottawa on a route that took him through Council Grove, Pawnee Rock, Cimarron, Garden City and Lakin, then crossing into Colorado at Coolidge. In Colorado, Doubman visited Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Golden before heading up and over the Rockies and across vast expanses of Utah and Nevada desert. Then came Las Vegas and westward ho to Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Francisco.
“I wanted to do something challenging,” Doubman told Kansas Alumni before digging into a burger and ice-cold beer, “and I’m just so grateful for my health.”
Doubman is using his journey to raise money for cancer research; donations can be made via links on his Instagram and TikTok pages, @KCDAdventure, where his complete photography and video archives, including the people and places he visited across Kansas, are still available.
Rock Chalk, Keith, and we’re glad you made KU part of your incredible journey.
Lifetimes of daily adult decisions begin the day freshmen arrive in Lawrence. Many are cursory; others resonate for years. So it is, of course, with the choice of a favored downtown pizza joint.
For many Jayhawks over the past 30 years, that’s meant loyalty to the slice as big as their face.
“These are the choices that you make as a young adult, the places where you’re going to hang out and you’re going to take ownership over while you’re at college,” reflects David Hawley, f’09, owner, along with his wife, Nora Nemchock Hawley, f’06, of Papa Keno’s Pizzeria. “And that stays with them for such a long time. It’s got this lasting imprint.”
That lasting imprint is exactly why the Hawleys are eager to introduce town and gown, as well as returning alumni, to the new Papa Keno’s, which recently moved a few blocks north, to 837 Mass St.
Jayhawks of recent generations will remember that space as the home of Jock’s Nitch athletic apparel (which moved across the street, into the historic former site of Ernst & Son Hardware), and, for decades before that, the Royal College shoe shop.
The former home of Papa Keno’s at 1035 Mass—now the venue for Latchkey Deli, a promising new artisan sandwich shop—had been a big part of the pizzeria’s charm: bare-brick walls, open floor plan, a vintage arcade game or two, all presented in a distinctly easygoing vibe.
But, at just 1,500 square feet, the space was too small to make any significant kitchen or seating improvements, and the old building was in dire need of repairs—never an attractive prospect for tenants on a lease. When the Hawleys heard about the old Jock’s Nitch building not only being vacated but also offered for sale, they jumped at the opportunity and began interior demolition immediately after signing the papers.
As the first phase of their improvements took shape, the Hawleys and their five sons departed for a spring break respite, intending to get the new shop operational within a couple of months of their return. The pandemic obliterated that timeline, of course, and, after enduring two weeks of quarantine, their work on the new store slowed to a trickle, with only one team of trade workers allowed inside on any given day, rather than the usual synchronized ballet of a bustling construction site.
The result was worth the wait. The new home affirms the Hawleys’ intention to retain the former store’s aura within an elegant new space, the showpiece headquarters for what they hope will become a growing network of Papa Keno’s franchises across the Midwest. (One has already opened in south Overland Park.)
Given the Hawleys’ shared background in metalsmithing and the obvious influence of their other Lawrence-based business, Architectural Titanium, the new Papa Keno’s shimmers with cold-rolled steel, titanium panels and even a proprietary “crystal titanium” bar.
The mezzanine loft is now a reservable seating area, and the back of the room has been reconfigured for families with children, overlooking a preserved autograph wall signed by KU athletes.
For those still uncomfortable with entering restaurants, a custom-built curbside seating area allows patrons to place an order from the new Papa Keno’s phone app and have it delivered to them outside to savor al fresco or carry home.
“We had so many talks before we purchased this space,” Nora Hawley says. “We did not want to change the feeling of what makes Keno’s Keno’s. It’s amazing food, but it’s also a little bit of a rock ’n’ roll feeling. It’s not too uptight. There’s a looseness to it. So David and I were intense with our design process to be able to retain that feeling, but elevate the experience a little bit.”
Papa Keno’s has been the Student Alumni Network Restaurant Partner Program’s exclusive pizza restaurant since 2017, a relationship the Hawleys say has helped them introduce their New York-style pizza and a range of other menu items to students who, of course, one day return to Lawrence as alumni. But beyond making connections to an ever-evolving customer base, they also maintain their steadfast support for SAN to express their own affections for their alma mater and the school their sons have already taken to heart.
“Each year we get a freshman class in, they’re living up on Daisy Hill, and it takes them a little while to branch out, get comfortable, find what they like,” David Hawley says. “So we love that connection with the Alumni Association, not only because it gets us involved with our school—we’re all Jayhawks and we love KU—but we also get to meet students and they get to find out about us.”
On Monday Chancellor Doug Girod presented testimony to the Senate Ways and Means Higher Education Subcommittee and the House Higher Education Budget Committee. He highlighted KU’s vital mission and the many ways in which KU provides economic growth for Kansas. He also discussed the financial strains created by the pandemic, and he outlined the impact of the state’s disinvestment in higher education: tuition paid by students and their families now contributes more to KU’s basic operational funding than state appropriations.
KU and the Regents universities are asking the Legislature to maintain stable higher education appropriations. Any further decrease will force reductions in vital programs and services for Kansans.
I hope you will review the chancellor’s presentation and reach out to lawmakers who will play key roles in budget discussions. Their names and contact information appear below.
As KU and higher education face unprecedented challenges, your advocacy is critically important. For additional details about KU’s impact on the economy and the current budget shortfall, you can review these fact sheets.
Thank you for your continuing dedication.
Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09 President, KU Alumni Association
Jayhawks for Higher Education communicate the importance of the University and higher education to the Kansas Legislature. Alumni advocacy is a longstanding tradition of the KU Alumni Association as an independent nonprofit organization. Informed advocates help strengthen the University. To add your voice to Jayhawks for Higher Educations, sign up here.
“It is quite the miracle story since it wasn’t a heart attack many survive,” Loving said. “I had what was termed as the widowmaker heart attack and there were a number of complications involved. … However LMH and KU Hospital staff, my friends, family and KU family never gave up.”
Mike Rounds, Loving’s supervisor at KU’s Human Resources Management, called Chancellor Doug Girod to help arrange the move from Lawrence to KU’s hospital in Kansas City to aid her recovery.
“Not only did executive administration reach out to get me a bed at the University of Kansas Hospital and the best critical care team available, but several coworkers took over my workload (which is heavy) without complaint for a full three months and have helped me with the accommodations I have needed returning back to work,” Loving said.
“Being a KU alumna and an employee for 19 years, I can’t tell you how much [my coworkers] all pulled together to help me in my moment of need. I received literally hundreds of cards, people posted notes on my office door which they would send pictures of to my family knowing how much they were supporting my fight.”
In lieu of food or flowers, Loving asked her friends to get their heart scanned. More than 80 people did so in Loving’s honor.
“If I could prevent [heart issues] for anyone or their family member that was critical for me,” Loving said. “Some did find out that they had heart disease or needed an immediate bypass.”
Loving continues to face medical complications from her recovery, but her coworkers have been supporting her every step of the way.
“During recovery, thoughtful accommodations have been made so I could return to work and become a productive contributor to the organization I love,” Loving said. “They have encouraged me, reminded me the art of patience, and have allowed me to grow, learn and return to the fabric of a community that truly cares and wants the very best for our organization and employees each day.”
Our new Jayhawks Give Back program celebrates ’Hawks who are making a difference in ways big and small. Each quarter, we’ll feature a member of the KU family and their story. If you know a Jayhawk who should be featured in Jayhawks Give Back, let us know!
Chancellor Doug Girod sent the following message to students, faculty and staff Feb. 9, 2021.
Faculty, staff and students:
Amid the challenges of the past year, we have maintained hope that conditions will allow us to host in-person Commencement activities this spring.
While there are still many unknowns about how the pandemic will play out in the months ahead, we are tentatively planning to host in-person Commencement events in May, both for this year’s graduates and the Class of 2020.
I want to emphasize that these plans can change at any point based on the latest guidance from health officials. We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our community and adjust to evolving circumstances however needed.
For the Class of 2021, we plan to host Commencement activities in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Sunday, May 16. For the Class of 2020, we plan to host Commencement activities in the stadium on Sunday, May 23.
To comply with health guidelines related to the size of mass gatherings, we will schedule multiple Commencement sessions each Sunday. Students and guests will be assigned to a specific session.
Tickets will be required for graduates and guests, and each graduate will receive a limited number of seats for guests – likely three or four per graduate.
Commencement will include the traditional walk down the Hill into Memorial Stadium, though the walk will look different than in past years to ensure social distancing.
All activities will be streamed live and recorded so those who aren’t on campus are able to watch.
Additional details will be shared later this spring.
School, unit and department events
All Lawrence and Edwards school, unit and department recognition events will be held virtually.
KU Medical Center leaders are still considering graduation weekend options and will communicate with medical center students and staff soon.
As we develop these plans, we will continue to consult with public health officials, as well as city and partners, whose assistance will be crucial as we welcome guests to the region.
I want to thank all of you who will help develop these plans in the weeks ahead, especially knowing they may change. This year’s planning will be complicated, but we owe it to our graduates to do everything we can to create the special moment they have worked for and deserve.
Fall 2020 may have been a semester to forget, but one KU journalism class was focused on making sure it could always be remembered.
Professor Eric Thomas saw a unique opportunity with his Photojournalism class to document a year unlike any other. Students captured shots of life on campus, both memorable and mundane to show their daily lives as students trying to get a college education during a global pandemic, with the end result a photo book available for sale.
Early in the fall with the semester’s future unknown, Thomas’ goal to produce the book was anything but certain.
“Honestly, I am surprised that we got the book complete,” Thomas said. “The book was a goal that I essentially whispered to the class because I was unsure that the pandemic, the state of classes on campus, the class’ health or even my health would allow us to complete it. Submitting the book to the publisher this month was, in some ways, the most unexpected thing that happened for me during a semester that was surprising at almost every turn.”
The photos cover moments in time such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the 2020 presidential election, and daily realities such as the pandemic and the resulting unemployment.
Phoebe Koruna, a junior journalism major from the Chicago area, came into the class with limited experience telling stories through photography.
“I took a few photography and digital art classes in high school, but I had never tried photojournalism,” Koruna said. “Artistic and journalistic photography have a lot in common, but I wasn’t used to taking well-composed pictures of strangers and asking for their information without using too much of their time. Capturing history instead of creating art was also different for me.”
As the end of the semester approached, the real work began: sorting through thousands of photos to find the very best to make the book. The process bled into the weeks after the semester ended, but the class was determined to get the job done.
“I will remember this year as a turbulent time, one of depressing news and little social life,” Koruna said. “I lost a chunk of my college experience, though I paid full tuition price. But I am also grateful, for my professors and peers, who made the best of a bad situation, and for this learning experience, even if it was not the experience that I had pictured. Professor Thomas’s class got me out of my apartment and thinking creatively; it was something I could focus my energy and attention on. I got to help document our small slice of history, and I will always be grateful for that.”