KU Cares: May

Posted on May 31, 2020 in News

Read about Jayhawks who are lending a hand to those in need.

A volunteer army joins COVID-19 battle

As William McNulty helped care for survivors of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, an insight guided him to co-found Team Rubicon: Military veterans—trained in crisis management, experienced at responding calmly under pressure and passionate about service—are ideally suited to fill a gap in disaster-relief efforts around the globe.

Ten years later, with more than 100,000 volunteers in five countries (and with four countries working to launch teams), Team Rubicon faces a global health crisis that calls for different tactics. How does a group known for putting armies of volunteers on the ground contribute to a pandemic response that counts lockdowns and social distancing among its most effective tactics?

Camila Ordóñez Vargas launches campaign to support Colombian community during the pandemic

Camila Ordóñez Vargas

When Camila Ordóñez Vargas, a political science and economics double-major, traveled to spend spring break with her family in her home country of Colombia, she never imagined that she would be unable to return to finish her junior year in Lawrence. Now facing this unexpected new reality, she’s finding ways to help alleviate the impact of the crisis in Colombia as the country grapples with social and economic uncertainties.

KU alumnus makes Jayhawk masks that give back

If you’re looking to mask your Jayhawk pride, John Killen is your guy.

Killen, j’85, is president & CEO of WinCraft, a manufacturer of licensed and promotional products for over 500 colleges and professional sports teams. As COVID-19 continued to spread, the company began to look at how they could help.

2020 KUEC biotechnology grad gets hands-on experience assisting with COVID-19 testing

It’s not unusual for college students to balance their classroom education with real-life learning experience in the workplace, either through a full-time job or an internship. For 23-year-old biotechnology senior Justin Carroll, however, the experience has taken on a different sense of importance in the last few months. For the last four years, Carroll has worked for clinical laboratory company Quest Diagnostics, first in specimen processing and later as a laboratory assistant. Since the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, Carroll has been helping process COVID-19 tests.

KU School of Medicine-Wichita graduate earns Global Scholar honor for work near and far

For Chandra Swanson, M.D., who’ll soon begin her pediatrics residency at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, the effort and experiences she put into earning Global Scholar Distinction helped focus her vision of the work she’ll do as a doctor.

KU Cares: Jayhawks on the Frontlines – Dr. Travis Batts

Travis Batts

Dr. Travis Batts is a board-certified cardiac specialist with a focus on disease prevention, nutrition, fitness optimization and cardiovascular screening in San Antonio, Texas. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry from the University of Kansas in 2000 and his medical doctorate (MD) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, before practicing medicine for over 10 years.

He was a letter winner on the men’s track and field team as a Jayhawk from 1996-2000, where he was a sprinter in the Crimson and Blue. He currently serves as Medical Director of the Cardiology clinic at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center.

Tags: , ,

KU Cares: April

Posted on Apr 30, 2020 in News

Read about Jayhawks who are lending a hand to those in need.

Alumni pitch in to help Lawrence cope with COVID-19

Danny Caine knows what it’s like to receive a bit of unseasonal holiday spirit. Last year his Raven Book Store benefited when bestselling author Shea Serrano enlisted 300,000 Twitter followers to forgo Amazon Prime Day and instead order books from the small Lawrence shop as a way of supporting striking Amazon warehouse workers. The Raven enjoyed its best day ever for online sales and Caine called the slow-season boost “a bit of Christmas in July.”

So when a wave of closings ordered by state and local authorities began shutting schools, businesses and community organizations across Lawrence in mid-March, it was only natural that Caine, g’17, would be among the KU alumni finding creative ways to bring a bit of normalcy to the city during an unprecedented public health crisis by offering curbside pickup and delivery services.

KU students sell apparel to raise money for Lawrence charities amid COVID-19 pandemic

Three students at the University of Kansas, Grace Roepke, Ibolya Konkoly and Taylor Arneson, created a T-shirt design to raise money for three Lawrence charities to help with the effects of COVID-19. 

From April 2 to 9, the three sold T-shirts, hoodies and crewnecks with a “Take Me to Lawrence” design for people who were missing their city after having to return home for quarantine.

International missions helped prepare doctor for pandemic fight

Before he even attended his first class at the KU School of Medicine, Zach Krumsick had accumulated a world of experience dealing with challenging health issues in difficult circumstances.

The Frontenac native was determined to learn about diverse cultures beyond his small southeast Kansas hometown; during his undergraduate days at Pittsburg State University he completed medical missions to Peru, Belize and Mexico. Craving deeper immersion, he spent a year between undergrad and medical school doing humanitarian work in public health and education in Kenya, helping the “poorest of the poor” in a Nairobi slum manage the AIDS epidemic and take full advantage of support offered by local schools.

McLemore, Embiid support COVID relief efforts

Former Kansas basketball standouts have made pledges to assist their communities in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Ben McLemore, who is in his seventh year in the NBA, currently with the Houston Rockets, is teaming up with C3 International to produce critical N95 respirator masks needed for coronavirus relief efforts.

Kansas City Jayhawk flies for the front lines

On April 21, James Elliott joined a group determined to bring a smile to the faces of those who need it most right now: the health care workers and patients in Lawrence and Kansas City area hospitals.

Thank a hero

Unleash your inner artist, or just relieve a little bit of quarantine-induced stress, with a Jayhawk coloring sheet!

Our latest coloring sheet has another purpose, too: It’s a simple way for Jayhawks everywhere to show their gratitude for those working on the front lines of the pandemic.

Tags: , ,

Isolation Inquiries

Posted on May 7, 2020 in News

If you’re like us, you’ve been spending a lot of time during the pandemic connecting with friends online. Since our Jayhawk networks can’t connect in person at happy hours, networking nights and volunteer events, we decided to bring some of that fun to you.

Watch and listen as some of our network leaders around the country share their memories of KU and how they are handling these trying times.


Thanks to our participants:
Meridith Ashley, Nashville
Robert Greenwood, Washington, D.C.
Juliann Harvey, Casper, Wyoming
Brian Watts, Houston
Brandon Snook, New York City
Abbey Shea, Denver
Meagan Reichstein, Chicago
Brandon Monroe, Austin
AJ Cleland, Denver

Tags: , ,

KU Alumni message regarding COVID-19

Posted on Mar 13, 2020 in News

Eulich Jayhawk Adams Alumni Center | www.kualumni.org

On Friday, March 13, Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, KU Alumni Association President shared the following message with the KU Alumni community.

Dear Jayhawks,

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread worldwide, our thoughts go out to all who have been affected by the pandemic. Unfortunately, these uncertain times require us to forgo opportunities to gather as a Jayhawk family in order to protect the health and safety of all. In coordination with the University of Kansas, and following the guidance of public health officials, the KU Alumni Association will cancel in-person events, including:

  • all official alumni network activities nationwide
  • Student Alumni Network events
  • Adams Alumni Center activities

In addition, Alumni Association staff members have canceled all business-related travel outside Kansas and Missouri.

These cancellations will remain in effect until May 12 per University guidelines as we explore additional ways to connect Jayhawks online. Our senior staff team will meet weekly to monitor developments and adapt event schedules as needed, and we will continue to share those decisions, posting updates on our website at kualumni.org/coronavirus. We truly appreciate our loyal volunteers’ efforts to unite Jayhawks in their communities, and we look forward to the time when we can resume our regular activities.

The University announced March 11 that the resumption of all in-person classes would be delayed until March 23. Beginning the week of March 23, all courses will be taught remotely using online tools, and beginning March 28, the University each week will re-evaluate the need to continue remote-only instruction. KU’s web page, coronavirus.ku.edu, will continue to be a helpful resource in the weeks ahead.

The University of Kansas community extends worldwide, and many Jayhawks no doubt are coping with personal and professional challenges. We extend our warmest wishes to you and your loved ones.


Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09


Tags: , ,

KU connection brings confetti new life

Posted on Feb 11, 2020 in News

Super Bowl Confetti

The clock hit zero in Miami and red, yellow and white confetti rained down, some featuring tweets from Kansas City Chiefs fans and players. While every Chiefs fan would love to get their hands on a piece as a souvenir, a KU connection landed a full bag in the hands of a local artist with big plans.

Allison Smith, d’05, n’07, g’08, had a previous connection with Ryan Toma, a groundskeeper for the Chiefs and was keeping up with his experience in Miami through Instagram. She saw him post about the tweet confetti and loved it.

Fast forward to the next day, and Kansas City-based artist Megh Knappenberger, f’04, above, asked on Instagram how she could get her hands on some confetti for a project.

“I was on my way to the KU hoops game and happened to see Megh’s Instagram story asking if anyone had a ‘hookup’ or ‘connection’ for the confetti,” Smith says. “So, I messaged Ryan to see if he could spare some. They messaged each other and met up in person on Tuesday afternoon!”

As for the end result … we’ll see! That’s a lot of confetti to clean and dry.

Here’s hoping that this isn’t the last celebration for local teams this year. “Fingers crossed for another championship for KU in April 2020,” Smith says. “I’ve got a good feeling!”

—Ryan Camenzind

Tags: , , , ,

Cartoonist’s latest project is picture of success

Posted on Dec 2, 2019 in News

Grant Snider, ’07, the orthodontist by day and illustrator by night who calls himself “the incidental comic,” this fall published his first picture book for kids. What Color is Night?, which explores the wonders and colors of night, came out in November from Chronicle Books. The read-aloud bedtime book’s target audience is 3- to 5-year-olds, but as Snider’s own experience suggests, kids of any age will delight in the book’s message that there’s plenty to appreciate in the night if only you look closer.

“Even before I had kids, I would read picture books,” says Snider, the subject of a 2013 feature in Kansas Alumni. “It’s a medium I think you can say so much in, and has so much possibility, and that’s why I hope I can master it or come close some day.”

The publication of his first book, The Shape of Ideas: An Illustrated Exploration of Creativity, in 2018 marked the realization of a longtime dream for Snider, who drew a daily comic strip for the University Daily Kansan’s editorial page in 2007 and in 2008 won the Charles M. Schultz Award for college cartoonists. His whimsical takes on life and literature soon found a place in the pages of The New York Times and The New Yorker.

In an interview with Kansas Alumni about The Shape of Ideas, the father of four acknowledged the deep satisfaction he got from launching his first book into the world, while hinting at another goal he hoped to fulfill.

What Color is Night? by Grant Snider“One thing I’ve been working on in both rewarding and frustrating ways for about three years now is a picture book,” Snider said. “Having kids and being interested in art and reading and drawing, the natural thing to do is draw a book your kids can read. It’s a fun process that’s a lot more challenging than I thought it would be, but that’s another thing that over the next year, five years, or 10 years I want to explore creatively.”

Just how difficult that process proved to be—and the many false starts Snider encountered along the way (who knew it would be hard to sell a book about a tapir learning to ride a tricycle?)—is the subject of a recent post on Snider’s excellent website, incidentalcomics.com.

What Color Is Night? will be followed in May by What Sound Is Morning?

“It feels incredible,” Snider says. “My children have been an eager sounding board for ideas over the long process of making a book, and they are always ready to hear a new story. When my wife, Kayla, showed them the first copy of the book, my son Trent (who the book is dedicated to) said ‘We’ve already read this before!’ They’d heard it over and over again in the revision process, so weren’t too impressed by seeing the exact same story in printed form. Reading to one’s own kids is a good way to stay humble as an author!”

—Steven Hill

Tags: , ,

A Different Perspective: Flying Jayhawks Exotic Vietnam and Angkor Wat Trip

Posted on Dec 2, 2019 in News

First, a disclaimer: This was my third Flying Jayhawks trip, but I’m not actually a Jayhawk (gasp!). My wife, son and daughter-in-law are the Jayhawks. I’m a West Point graduate, and I served more than 22 years on active duty in the Army, including fighting in Vietnam in 1971 to ’72 as an armored cavalry platoon leader, where I was wounded twice.

Tegan suggested to me that it would be interesting for the Flying Jayhawks to hear about my experiences in going back to Vietnam for the first time since 1972. I will leave it to another Flying Jayhawk to describe the entire trip, but here are my highlights.


We had a great local guide named Viet, a 40-year-old North Vietnamese man who was with us during our entire visit to Hanoi. He was smart, thoughtful and very willing to answer questions and give us his views, which sometimes didn’t correspond with the party line. He definitely was not a typical minder and was our best local guide of the entire trip.

Flying Jayhawks | Exotic Vietnam and Angkor WaThe most interesting part of the visit to Hanoi for me was visiting the Hoa Lo Prison (the “Hanoi Hilton”). Most of the prison has been torn down and only a small part of it remains as a museum. That museum highlights how badly the French treated the Vietnamese they imprisoned there during the French colonial era and their war in Indochina and includes mannequins that show how they were shackled, how they were tortured, and how some died there, often by guillotine.

The part of the museum devoted to the “American War” was limited to a display of a few items, including a POW uniform and some photos of prisoners relaxing, playing chess, cooking and putting up Christmas decorations. It was pure propaganda and intended to contrast their “humane” treatment of the Americans with the brutality of the French. I have a good friend and West Point company mate who was shot down over North Vietnam and imprisoned there from December 1972 to February 1973. He told me that the cell where he was held, part of what the POWs called the “new guy” section, was still there. I’m not sure I was able to identify the exact cell that was his, but the prison is a dark and gloomy place that was depressing to tour.

After telling Viet that I’d fought in Vietnam, I mentioned that my friend was a POW there and I asked whether I could tell our group about his imprisonment. That was well received and a number of folks told me they appreciated my telling his story.

Cu Chi tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnels near Saigon are a massive complex of miles of tunnels stretching from the Cambodian border towards Saigon. They were designed to allow the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army to move troops into South Vietnam and provide sanctuaries where they could rest, get medical care, etc.

Flying Jayhawks | Exotic Vietnam and Angkor WaDuring the war we discovered some tunnels but were unaware of many others, including a complex directly under a major U.S. base. We had a different but also good local guide, a South Vietnamese man, who gave us a tour of the site, which is one of two they take people to (not the one that was under the big U.S. base that I’d been to at one point in 1972). They had some tunnels that we could crawl through and our guide explained the measures they took to conceal the tunnel complexes from the Americans and demonstrated the types of punji stakes and tiger traps they used to deter Americans from entering the tunnels. I crawled through the longer tunnel—about 50 yards—and had to do part of it on my hands and knees, while my wife, Sondra, did a shorter one, which was a little larger; she was able to get through by stooping over in some places.

My experience in crawling confirmed that I never could have been a tunnel rat! As I did in Hanoi, I told our guide that I’d fought nearby in 1971 to ’72 (that got a startled expression) and asked him whether I could speak with the group about my experiences. On the bus after our tour I explained how we cleared bunkers and tunnels, what tunnel rats did, and how we used smoke grenades to identify air holes and exits. Sometimes we used CS grenades if the tunnel rats had gas masks.

Napalm Girl

Throughout Vietnam, I found the Vietnamese people to be friendly and mostly too young to have experienced the war. One other highlight of the trip was having Kim Phuc with us as a lecturer. She was the “Napalm Girl” in the iconic photo, which showed her running away naked from a napalm strike, and now she is a woman in her 50s. She was badly burned over most of her back and one arm, but she has recovered after multiple operations, although she still is in a lot of pain.

She defected with her husband to Canada some years ago, has two children and is now a UNESCO Ambassador for Peace who tells her story around the world. She’s a remarkable woman, and through faith she has been able to turn her life around from anger and resentment to forgiveness. She is always smiling. Sondra and I made a personal connection with her, and I told her that I operated very near her home in Trang Bang six months before her horrific injury.


Tired of visiting temples, Sondra and I daringly broke away from the group itinerary and, at Sondra’s suggestion, took an all-day excursion with a private guide and driver to the bridge over the River Kwai.

You may know the general story of the bridge and what they call the Death Railroad from the 1957 movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” We discovered that the movie, although based in fact, is not historically accurate. The short version of the real story: the railroad was built during World War II in 1943 by the Japanese to connect existing north-south railroads in Thailand and Burma and allow the Japanese to move troops and supplies into Burma for their attack west into India.

They used around 200,000 conscripted local Thaisand other natives and more than 60,000 POWs, mainly British, Australian and Dutch, many of whom had been captured when Singapore fell, to build the railroad. Working in terrible conditions, more than 100,000 laborers (both natives and POWs) died from malnutrition, chronic dysentery, malaria, cholera, and other diseases; brutal treatment from sadistic Japanese guards; and unfortunately, from bombing by the Allied Air Forces who were unaware that the camps housed POWs.

Flying Jayhawks | Exotic Vietnam and Angkor Wa

This is one place where the movie presents an unrealistically rosy picture of the conditions in the camps. The famous bridge was built using POW forced labor (designed by Japanese engineers, not British ones as shown in the movie), and actually consisted of concrete and steel spans rather than wood scaffolding and was not blown up by British commandos but was bombed by US B-24s in June of 1945, which dropped three central spans. The bridge was rebuilt after the war by replacing the dropped spans, and the eastern two-thirds of the railroad is still in use.

We drove about three hours from Bangkok, got on a train with hordes of tourists and Thais, rode over the bridge on the train and later walked back over it. In addition to seeing the bridge, there is a superb museum there, which alone was worth the visit. Near the museum, there is a cemetery that is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and includes the graves of thousands of POWs who died building the railroad. They did an amazing job of identifying remains and collecting them in the cemetery. Apparently if they could identify family or NOK of the dead, they allowed them to include personal messages on the markers, most of which are heartbreaking. A few of the messages I read were: “A voice we love is still, a place is vacant which we can never fill,” and “We think of him still as the same and say: ‘He is not dead, he just is away.’” These messages really brought home the sacrifice and loss of those young men long before their time. The visit, although it took all day, was memorable and I’m very glad we made the trip.

Side note: People have asked me how it felt to go back to Vietnam and whether I recognized any of the places I had been. I didn’t have any extremely traumatic experiences in Vietnam, so I found I was OK with going back, although the visit to the Hanoi Hilton was emotional. Although my unit operated in an area northwest of Saigon very close to both Cu Chi and Trang Bang, I didn’t expect that I’d recognize places I had served, and that was the case. I spent almost all of my tour in the jungle, bashing through the trees on armored vehicles looking for bunker complexes or leading dismounted ambush patrols in search of Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army, and jungle looks pretty much the same, no matter where it is. My sense was that Vietnam is much more built up than when I was there in the ’70s—roads that were dirt when I was there are now paved, and there are far more buildings, small businesses and houses than there were almost 50 years ago.

Bill Knowlton
Flying Jayhawks passenger, Exotic Vietnam and Angkor Wat

The Flying Jayhawks “Exotic Vietnam and Angkor Wat” trip took place Nov. 5-19, 2019. The trip was hosted by Tegan Thornberry, d’05, g’09, the Alumni Association’s director of membership. View more photos from the trip; pictures may be downloaded for personal use. Find more information about Flying Jayhawks trips, including a schedule, or sign up for travel emails.

Tags: , ,

Jayhawks reflect on cost of freedom in Normandy

Posted on Sep 8, 2019 in News

Flying Jayhawks | Normandy

Seventeen KU alumni shared the extraordinary experience of visiting Normandy, as the Flying Jayhawks took part in our nation’s continued commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

“Homebased” out of the picturesque city of Honfleur, we spent eight days covering the Normandy region, including walking the hallowed ground of the Normandy invasion—the beaches of Utah, Omaha and Pointe-du-Hoc. Joined by 12 alumni from the University of Nebraska (who all were highly impressed with the great support we received from the KU Alumni Association), our group of 29 gained a newfound appreciation for the incredible sacrifices that the “Greatest Generation” made in liberating France and Europe.

As I reflect back on our trip, I don’t believe our eight-day visit could have been planned or executed any better—just like a military operation! We owe a huge shout out to the KU Alumni Association (thanks Tegan!); our intrepid travel leader, Emiliano “Emi” Rio; our daily tour guides, William, Claire and Marie; and the entire team from AHI Travel – you all rocked! As Emi continually reminded us in his perfect Argentinian, French and Belgian cocktail of an accent: “Dress like onions—many layers!” (The Jayhawks had to interpret for the Cornhuskers.)

While the beaches and the D-Day Memorial were certainly our primary calling, let’s be honest, everyone on the trip was a foodie. So let’s start there.

Each morning we awoke in our lovely hotel to the smell of a breakfast—and there was nothing “petit” about this petit déjeuner. The local cheeses, flaky chocolate-filled croissants, baguettes slathered with Normandy butter, fresh fruits (something had to be approved by our cardiologists!), the spécialté de la maison, Teurgoule. Stick a fork in me; I’m done!


Flying Jayhawks | NormandyOkay, back to the trip. We were treated with a “soft landing” on Monday, our first day in Normandy. We were led through the streets and rich history of Honfleur, which included Saint Catherine, which is quite an unusual wooden church. Saint Catherine looks a bit like an upside down boat, largely because the local shipbuilders constructed it in the 1500s.  And perhaps most importantly, our local guide pointed out the “must dine” restaurants in Honfleur.


Tuesday, was completely dedicated to visiting Mont Saint-Michel: amazing. Mont Saint-Michel looks like something straight out of a Hollywood studio—a fantastical city rising from Normandy’s tidal marshes with towering spires and ramparts.

As we quickly discovered, the Mont is not for the faint of heart, it was a bit of a workout traversing from our shuttle stop to the Mont’s entrance, and then onward and upward through the steep winding village street lined by museums, restaurants and shops. Finally, the “Grand Degre” stairs (350 steps) gateway led to the goal of our hike, the imposing abbey which has served as the goal for pilgrims since the 8th century. You cannot visit Mont Saint Michel without reflecting on Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and the improbable craftsmanship and ingenuity of 8th-century church-builders.


Wednesday was jam-packed and included one of the best meals we had as a group. (Did we mention we enjoyed the food?)

The day began with a visit to the Caen Memorial, which was thoughtfully placed at the beginning of our World War II battlefield study.  The museum included an overview of the beginnings of World War II, which provided us with a strong educational foundation for our upcoming walks along the D-Day landing beaches.

Following Caen, we drove to Les Vergers de Ducy, a family farm, which makes classic fortified apple cider and our group’s new favorite liquors: Normandy Pommeau and the famous apple brandy, Calvados. We were treated to a tour of the distillery and then shared an delectable French dejeuner of rooster, meats, local cheeses, fresh salads, another Teurgoule recipe, and of course, baguettes with butter! After lunch, we “sampled” the Poummeau and Calvados, and then made a beeline to their gift shop.

Wednesday afternoon continued our D-Day study, with visits to Utah Beach, the landing site of the US Army’s 4th Infantry Division (led by Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.), and Sainte-Mère-Église, the first town liberated by Operation Overlord.

We walked along reflectively, considering the lost youth and innocence of the young men who stormed ashore in 1944, supported by air assaults conducted by units from the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions. During our bus ride back to Honfleur, our tour guide William Jordan provided us a moving rendition of speeches given by Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery, as our group quietly considered our first experience of the D-Day invasion.

Flying Jayhawks | Normandy


Flying Jayhawks | Normandy

Again, I have to tip my chapeau to the trip organizer: Thursday was a day afforded to each traveler to do as they please!

After the emotional visit to the beaches, each of us was ready for a day to recharge and refit for the rest of the week. The world’s greatest travel director, Emi, worked with several groups to help them schedule visits to the art museums of Rouen; the modern-looking church of Eglise Jeanne d’Arc, which sits on the site of Joan of Arc’s burning; Lisieux, the home of the Catholic saint, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, who founded “the Little Way”;  and of course, several chose to hang in Honfleur to take in a day cruise on the Seine and a bucket of mussels for lunch. (I’m not sure what the Nebraska group did on their day off—shucked some corn?)


Friday was our capstone event: the trip to Pegasus Bridge, Arromanches, Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc.

On this day, we came to appreciate the herculean effort involved in the allied amphibious invasion to liberate France and the rest of Western Europe. From the implausible construction feat of the “mulberries” to Colonel Rudder’s Ranger assault on the formidable cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, our travel guide and military historian introduced us to the everyday men and women who served our country with the highest valor.

As we walked along, we couldn’t help consider the juxtaposition of the serene beaches we experienced, with those blood-stained and scarred beaches of 1944. Perhaps the height of this juxtaposition was experienced during the last component of our Normandy battle visit—the visit to the iconic American Cemetery. Situated on a bluff overlooking Omaha beach, the American Cemetery is a solemn site. We are all transfixed by the green fields filled with seemingly endless ranks of white Christian crosses and Jewish Stars of David, especially when we consider they represent only a small fraction of the Americans who died here.

Flying Jayhawks | NormandyContaining the graves of more than 9,380 of our military dead and the engraved names of the 1,557 American soldiers whose bodies were never identified or found, the cemetery memorializes the human cost of the Normandy invasion with unimaginable peace and tranquility. The statue “The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves” symbolizes the thousands of men who sacrificed their lives in Normandy for a people they never knew.

As we leave this cemetery this moving and somewhat haunting statue is our last stop. Rightfully so, as we complete the World War II component of our trip, we are left to ponder the incalculable cost of freedom: the lives lost, the dreams incomplete and families left behind.


We leave our incredible journey on a lighter note with a trip to a town that managed to avoid bombing in World War II, the city of Bayeux.

Flying Jayhawks | NormandyIt is here that we visit the best-known piece of embroidery in the world, the Bayeux Tapestry. Intended for an illiterate audience, the tapestry commemorates King William’s conquest of England. The tapestry is 230 feet long and contains exquisitely detailed scenes embroidered with tiny, precise stitches. Saturday evening provides our group one last opportunity to celebrate our combined Jayhawk camaraderie, reflect on the incredible travel experience we shared and bid farewell to one another and to our effervescent host, Emi.

As part of our farewell reception, we broke down in small groups and enjoyed a “Jeopardy-like” trivia contest to determine who had the best grasp of renowned KU trivia and important tidbits from the trip.

  • Question: “This classic hangout has served as the beginning of many long-term relationships to include that of your hosts”
  • Answer: “What is the Wheel?!”

(Sorry, Cornhuskers, missed that one?)

After recognizing the winning team with a bottle of Pommeau and some of Honfleur’s finest shot glasses, our group headed out for a wonderful meal in the heart of the dining district. Did I mention that we were all foodies?

Rock Chalk!

Mike and Karen

The Flying Jayhawks “Normandy” trip took place Aug. 17-25, 2019. The trip was hosted by Mike Denning, c’83, a retired Marine Corps colonel and director of the KU Office of Graduate Military Programs, and his wife, Karen Abram Denning, c’83.  Find more information about Flying Jayhawks trips, including a schedule, or sign up for travel emails.

Tags: ,

Jayhawks in the News | July 19

Posted on Jul 19, 2019 in News

Jayhawks in the News

Find out what University of Kansas alumni are up to in our weekly edition of “Jayhawks in the News.” It’s an online version of Class Notes. If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at share@kualumni.org.


Endangered language | Globe Miami Times

Dr. Willem de Reuse, g’83, a linguist employed by The Language Conservancy, is part of an effort to save the Western Apache language. de Reuse has studied the Apache for 25 years and is the author of A Practical Grammar of the San Carlos Apache Language.
Read full article.


Serious distance runners can’t stay away from Flagstaff, lure of high altitude | Arizona Daily Independent

Courtney Barnes, a former collegiate runner at the University of Kansas, is one of the newest employees of Run Flagstaff, a specialty running store located downtown on Historic Route 66. Barnes, c’18, c’18, moved to Flagstaff last year and is training for the USA National Championship in Des Moines, Iowa.
Read full article.


Former Jayhawk Perry Ellis inks with professional club in Japan | KUSports.com

Perry Ellis has agreed to join the Osaka Evessa club in Japan for the upcoming season. Ellis,’16, has spent his professional career playing in the NBA’s G League as well as overseas in Australia, Italy, Germany and Turkey.
Read full article.


YWCA Greater Pittsburgh finds new chief executive in Texas | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Janine Woods was named chief executive of the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh effective July 8. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, a master’s from Webster University in St. Louis, and a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University.
Read full article.


Camcorp names new president | Feed & Grain

Camcorp, a manufacturer of high-performing air pollution control and pneumatic conveying equipment, named Tony Thill as its new president effective July 1, 2019. Thill earned an undergraduate degree in business in 1989 from the University of Kansas.
Read full article.


Walker School names new communications and marketing director | Marietta Daily Journal

The Walker School has named Karen Park, j’16, as its new director of communications and marketing. Park has worked at The Detroit Free Press, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and most recently at InterContinental Hotels Group.
Read full article.


Expert in advance care planning named Director of Regenstrief’s Center for Aging Research | BioSpace

Susan Hickman, Ph.D., has been selected to lead the Indiana University Center for Aging Research at the Regenstrief Institute. She will be the second director in the center’s history. Dr. Hickman, g’95 PhD’98, is a clinical geropsychologist focused on optimizing the quality of life for older adults through improved decision-making and communication about treatment preferences.
Read full article.


Akron Children’s Hospital names chief ambulatory officer, 2 VPs | Becker’s Hospital Review

Akron (Ohio) Children’s Hospital has appointed Matthew Groninger as vice president of medical and surgical subspecialties. Groninger, g’04, most recently served as vice president of ambulatory services at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. He earned his master’s degree in health services administration from the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.
Read full article.


Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.


Tags: , , ,

Jayhawks in the News | July 12

Posted on Jul 12, 2019 in News

Jayhawks in the News

Find out what University of Kansas alumni are up to in our weekly edition of “Jayhawks in the News.” It’s an online version of Class Notes. If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at share@kualumni.org.


Jersey Mike’s SVP of leadership, coaching and culture presents strategies for improving work culture and personal development in new book | KITV4

With over 40 years of leadership and coaching experience, author Keith Hertling, the senior vice president of leadership, coaching and culture for Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems, knows how to create and maintain a great work culture. In his new book “Life Lessons on Leadership, Coaching and Culture,” Hertling, g’86, shares his inspiring stories which also double as a resourceful guide for both business owners, managers, and employees.
Read full article.


Vice chancellor for public affairs named facilitator for the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission | University Daily Kansan

Reggie Robinson, vice chancellor for public affairs at the University of Kansas, has been named facilitator for the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission, Governor Laura Kelly announced Tuesday. Robinson previously served as director of the School of Public Affairs and Administration. He also received both his undergraduate and graduate law degrees from the University.
Read full article.


KU Libraries announces 2019 Research Sprints participants | University of Kansas

Melissa Peterson, g’11, was selected to participate in the 2019 Research Sprints. Peterson’s research project, “Kansas Homesteading: It’s More Interesting and Complicated Than You Would Expect,” focused on the daily experiences of Kansas homesteaders, the history of indigenous peoples’ dispossession and the expansion of the nation-state.
Read full article.


Multi-brand insurance company names CFO to bolster strategic financial operations | NBC29.com

Susan Wollenberg has been selected to serve as Chief Financial Officer for Windhaven® Insurance and The Hearth Insurance Group™, Jimmy E. Whited, CEO of the Florida-based companies, announced today. Wollenberg, b’85, began her career as a Certified Public Accountant at Deloitte and Touché.
Read full article.


Who’s Who 2019: Gary Komar | Chicago Agent Magazine

Gary Komar, c’92, is a vice president of residential lending at Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp. and is based out of their downtown Chicago branch. In addition to his home market of Illinois, he is licensed to originate mortgages in California, Texas, Oregon and Washington, D.C.
Read full article.


Who’s Who 2019: Josh Denlow | Chicago Agent Magazine

As the leader of The Denlow Mortgage Team at Draper & Kramer Mortgage Corp., Josh Denlow, c’95, serves a diverse range of clients across Chicago, Evanston and the surrounding suburbs. He began his professional life in the telecommunications industry before the dot-com crash inspired him to seek a new direction.
Read full article.


Arbor Investments promotes Schoenfelder to VP | Food Business News

Josh Schoenfelder has been promoted to vice president of Arbor Investments, a private equity firm focused on the food and beverage industries. Schoenfelder, b’09, joined Arbor in 2014 and since 2016 was a senior associate.
Read full article.


Jake Silverman joins Strategic Capitol Consulting | The Missouri Times

Political consultant Jake Silverman is the newest addition to Strategic Capitol Consulting, LLC, a government affairs and business development firm. Silverman, c’11, joins the firm as a lobbyist and political strategist.
Read full article.


KU photographers capture campus from every angle | University Daily Kansan

Andy White, c’12, and Meg Kumin, c’99, g’03, the official photographers for the University of Kansas, are responsible for capturing campus life from every perspective. From the top of Fraser to the chaos of Allen Fieldhouse, there are few places Kumin and White haven’t captured.
Read full article.


Tommy Bohler hired as city administrator | Waushara Argus

Tommy Bohler, g’15, was hired as the new city administrator, clerk and treasurer by the Wautoma City Council. He earned a master’s degree in public administration with a focus on city management.
Read full article.


Rutgers Brain Health Institute announces appointments to further autism research | Rutgers News

Brian Greer, g’12, PhD’14, will join Rutgers in late July as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics in RWJMS and as a core member of BHI. He will serve as the assistant director of CSH-RUCARES, overseeing the Severe Behavior Disorders in Children Program.
Read full article.


Medical doctor connects faith and health care through theology degree | Public

Donna Ewy, m’94, holds a total of six degrees. She specializes in geriatrics, long-term care and hospice care, and uses her background in theology to connect her faith with health care.
Read full article.


Former governor staffer launches Congressional campaign | Ottawa Herald

Abbie Hodgson, D-Lawrence, has launched a 2020 campaign for the Kansas Second Congressional District. Hodgson, c’03 g’09 PhD’18, holds three degrees from the University of Kansas and taught in KU’s Communication Studies department for a decade.
Read full article.


Meet new Kansas executive director for Latino affairs Aude Negrete | KSHB

Aude Negrete, c’09, was announced as the state’s new executive director fo rthe Hispanic and Latino America Affairs Commission. The commission helps connect the Latino and Hispanic community with the governor’s office.
Read full article.


Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.


Tags: , , ,