Jayhawk, White House staff member reunite during Obama’s visit

Posted on Jan 26, 2015 in Alumni News and News

Photo by Nick Krug for the Lawrence Journal-World

Seven-year-old Addison Moore of Prairie Village landed a big interview last week for the Marvel News, published by Mr. Martin’s second-grade class at Belinder Elementary School: Josh Earnest, White House press secretary. Addison’s father, Adam Moore, and Earnest have been friends since their middle school and high school years in Kansas City.

During the interview, Earnest had a question for Addison. Would she and her family like to see the president during his stop in Lawrence?

Sure enough, Adam, Addison, her siblings Peyton and Tyler, and Adam’s mother, Sally Pollock, had front-row seats Jan. 22 for Obama’s speech in KU’s Anschutz Sports Pavilion. Before the president arrived, the family shared a brief conversation and hugs with Earnest.

Adam Moore, l’00, an attorney with the law firm of Rasmussen, Willis, Dickey & Moore in Kansas City, Mo., says Earnest’s values and personality have remained steady despite his quick rise to national prominence. Earnest, who graduated from Rice University in Houston, began working for Obama in 2007.

“Josh is one of the most genuine people I have ever met, and I know that quality has served him well as press secretary,” Moore says. “He works very long hours at the White House, so it was particularly special to get to spend some time with him today in Lawrence on his 40th birthday.

“KU should be commended for hosting a magnificent event. … I was particularly proud to be a Jayhawk today!”

Adam Moore and children Tyler, Addison and Peyton | www.kualumni.org
Moore kids and Josh Earnest during recent presidential visit to Kansas City | www.kualumni.org
Photo Credits
Top: Adam Moore, l’00; his daughters, Addison, 7, and Peyton, 10; and his mother, Sally Pollock, helped welcome President Barack Obama to KU Jan. 22, thanks to Adam’s longtime friendship with Josh Earnest, White House press secretary. Photo by Nick Krug for the Lawrence Journal-World.

Center: Adam Moore and his children Tyler, 11, Addison and Peyton. Photo courtesy of Adam Moore.

Bottom: The Moore children also saw Earnest during a recent presidential visit to Kansas City, Mo. Photo courtesy of Adam Moore.

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Superfan Obama finds time before speech to meet with men’s basketball team

Posted on Jan 22, 2015 in Alumni News and News

If equipment supervisor Larry Hare had more than a few days of advance notice, the 44th president of the United States would have received a No. 44 Kansas jersey when he met with the men’s basketball shortly before his campus speech Thursday. But, with plenty of No. 1 jerseys in stock, that was Hare’s choice, and sophomore guard Wayne Selden Jr. was fine with it.

@WayneSeldenJr tweet“No, that’s the president’s jersey now,” Selden said afterward. “I’m just wearing No. 1.”

Obama, known to be a passionate fan of college basketball, congratulated the Jayhawks on their big victory over Oklahoma Monday night. When told the Jayhawks next play at Texas on Saturday, he cautioned that they’d better be ready for a tough game.

“He made a point to tell our team that we have disappointed him twice with his picks, when he picked us to win the national championship and we came up short,” coach Bill Self said, in reference to the NCAA Tournament brackets Obama fills out each March on national television. “He said that he didn’t think that he would go that direction this year, but he thought we would be a pretty high seed.”

“He has a nation to take care of,” Selden said, “and he’s watching our games. It’s really big.”

Obama met the players in Wagnon Student Athlete Center’s Hadl Auditorium, from which he made his way to Anschutz Sports Pavilion, where he delivered an important policy speech in front of a festive crowd of KU and Lawrence well-wishers. He and his staff and Secret Service security detail took refuge on the way in both the soccer and softball locker rooms, and the president left messages for both teams on their white boards.

Next to a welcoming message left by soccer players, Obama wrote, “Thanks, Team … and good luck! Go, Jayhawks! Barack Obama.” Afterward, a note was taped to the board: “Obviously … Don’t erase”; signed, “Captain Obvious.”
Junior forward Perry Ellis said basketball players talked among themselves beforehand about how they hoped to meet the president again this summer, because that would mean they had won another NCAA championship.

“He was really humble. He was really welcoming,” Ellis said. “It was a big thing. He made it seem like he was meeting us, but we felt like we were meeting him.”

Self said that while the 15-minute meeting was special for everybody in the program, it might have meant even more to certain players. Freshman guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who is from Ukraine, shot video on his phone of the entire session, and when junior forward Jamari Traylor and freshman forward Cliff Alexander introduced themselves as being from Chicago, Obama’s hometown, the president immediately asked them which schools they attended.

“He made those kids feel special,” Self said. “I would think that anybody who is in his business is probably used to crowds and knowing how to play to crowds, but he certainly made our guys feel very good today.”

Self reported that Obama “basically said he gave the game up,” but was still “a very good shooter and could beat anybody in horse. … He said, ‘I’m not fast or anything, but I’m faster than most 53-year-olds.'”

Before leaving Hadl Auditorium, the president reminded players to tend to their academics: “You didn’t come here just to play ball.” Self proudly announced to the president that the Jayhawks sported a 2.93 team GPA, but Obama was not impressed.

“You know what he said? ‘Gotta get it up to a 3.’ Which basically tells you, don’t ever be satisfied, which I thought was pretty cool for our guys to hear.”

Though the president’s successful campus visit took place entirely in athletics facilities, Self was not comfortable with the idea of athletics department employees taking any additional credit or praise.

“I wouldn’t say it’s departmentwide; I’d say it’s universitywide,” the coach said about pride members of the campus community felt after the president’s visit. “Any inconvenience it caused by having the president here, I don’t think anybody felt it at all. I think it was a first-class deal and certainly one we should be proud of. It was good to get him on campus.”

—Chris Lazzarino

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Full-time student, single mom invited to introduce President Obama

Posted on Jan 22, 2015 in Alumni News and News

Alyssa Cole introduces the President | www.kualumni.org

Two years ago, Alyssa Cole wrote a letter to President Barack Obama, describing her challenges as a full-time student and single mother of three children. In addition to sending her a reply at the time, the president and his staff apparently saved her letter, because on Monday, Jan. 19, Cole received a call from a White House staff member, who invited Cole and her children to attend President Obama’s speech  Jan. 22 during his visit to KU.

“I was pretty shocked, almost into silence,” Cole says. “I didn’t know what to say at first.”

She managed to say yes, but another surprise was in store: “On Tuesday, they called back and asked if I would introduce the president.”

Cole, a senior majoring in history with a minor in African-American Studies, wrote her own introduction of the president and submitted it to the White House for review. Her children, son Jordan, 7; daughter, Jasmine, 4; and son Max, 3, will accompany her to the president’s speech in KU’s Anschutz Sports Pavilion, just down Irving Hill Road from the KU’s Hilltop Child Development Center, where Jasmine and Max are students.

Cole will walk down the Hill in May. As one of KU’s McNair Scholars, she will spend the summer researching African-American women in the military. She plans to attend graduate school, most likely at KU. The Garden City native moved to Lawrence with her children after completing community college in her hometown. “I always wanted to come to KU,” she says.

—Jennifer Jackson Sanner

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Lawrence campus prepares for president’s visit

Posted on Jan 20, 2015 in Alumni News and News

President Barack Obama will visit KU Jan. 22, two days after delivering his State of the Union address. His visit will be the first at KU by a sitting U.S. president since William Howard Taft in 1911.

Ticket for Thursday's appearance by President Obama at KU | www.kualumni.orgNews of the president’s appearance sparked a huge demand for tickets when they became available to students, faculty and staff Tuesday, the first day of spring-semester classes. At its peak shortly after 9 a.m., the line stretched from the Kansas Union south and west along Jayhawk Boulevard, then doubled back at the four-way stop and extended north on Sunflower Drive nearly to the west side of the Union. Tickets for the general public were to be available beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

Air Force One is scheduled to fly into Topeka’s Forbes Field Wednesday evening. Gov. Sam Brownback, l’82, will greet the president, in a ceremony not open to the public, but will not attend the Thursday speech due to a prior commitment.

Obama will stay in Lawrence Wednesday night. His Thursday speech at Anschutz—a site apparently chosen by the White House for security reasons—is scheduled to begin at 11:20 a.m. It will be broadcast live on Kansas Public Radio and streamed online by the White House, and KU is providing regular updates at president.ku.edu.

Watch the live stream here.

No other details about the president’s itinerary have been announced, but it is thought he might make time to visit with coach Bill Self and the men’s basketball team.

“I’ve been in contact with somebody out of his office, and we’d like to get that worked out because that would mean a lot to everybody in our program, but certainly to our players,” Self said Monday. “He’s a pretty big basketball fan, so I think if it’s possible he would definitely like to do that, based on what I’ve been told.”

Self and the Jayhawks last met with the president of the United States on June 3, 2008, when President George W. Bush welcomed them to the White House following their NCAA Tournament championship earlier that spring.

Obama’s previous connection with the Jayhawks came in 2011, when he inked Kansas into the winner’s line on his NCAA Tournament bracket. The Jayhawks busted the president’s bracket with an Elite Eight loss to Virginia Commonwealth.
They might be in for some ribbing from the president, who is known to put a lot of effort into his men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament selections, but the Jayhawks say they’re eager nonetheless.

“Coach was talking to us about it in pregame, that we’ll probably get to sneak in and see him,” sophomore guard Brannen Greene said after the OU game. “We’re all excited. Everybody wants to see the president. It’ll be fun.”

Freshman forward Cliff Alexander savored what he saw as a meaningful link between Martin Luther King Jr. Day events on the Hill and the president’s visit just days later.

“It’s a big connection, that today is MLK Day and he’s coming here Thursday, a very big connection,” Alexander said. “It’s very exciting to have him here. Barack Obama, first black president, very exciting. Can’t wait to see him.”

Before Taft in 1911, the previous U.S. presidents to visit KU while in office were Rutherford B. Hayes, in 1879, and Ulysses S. Grant, in 1873. Former presidents to visit the Hill were Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

The long line for Obama tickets was perhaps caused, in part, because of the 6 a.m. distribution for student tickets to the Jan. 31 Kansas State basketball game; many then headed directly to the Union, and the line, which began forming with campers at 2 a.m., swelled after 7 a.m.

Until the supply ran out shortly after noon, an estimated 4,000 tickets had been distributed. It was noted by one campus official that those who showed up after 10 a.m. had to wait less than five minutes and still got tickets.

—Chris Lazzarino

Students wait in line for tickets to see President Obama | www.kualumni.org
Students wait in line for tickets to see President Obama | www.kualumni.org

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