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.”
The University of Kansas Alumni Association hosted its first-ever virtual fundraising event, Jayhawks Flock Together, Thursday, Nov. 19, in support of student and alumni programs and KU’s Campus Cupboard, a food pantry for students, faculty, staff and affiliates. The event, featuring KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, Alumni Association President Heath Peterson and Fox 4 News co-anchor John Holt, was presented in partnership with Dimensional Innovations, Helix Architecture + Design and McCownGordon Construction and supported by video production sponsor, KJO Media.
Nearly 750 Jayhawks worldwide participated in the event, which raised $80,000 from sponsorships and the silent auction to support the Association’s Jayhawk Career Network and the Student Alumni Network, and $20,000 from the Fund-the-Future portion of the live program to benefit the Campus Cupboard, which the chancellor selected to highlight the seriousness of food insecurity and its effect on Jayhawks.
According to KU, approximately one-third of its students experience food insecurity during their time on campus, and those needs have only intensified this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as many student-held jobs on campus or in the Lawrence community have been eliminated or reduced.
“We deeply appreciate the generosity of KU alumni and friends who contributed financially to the KU Campus Cupboard,” said Jennifer Wamelink, associate vice provost for KU Student Affairs and Food for Jayhawks committee member. “Your gifts help the pantry provide students with the specific food items, hygiene products and school supplies that meet their unique needs and are particularly meaningful as we prepare for what looks to be another difficult semester for many.”
“We are especially proud to support the KU Campus Cupboard to help students who are struggling with food insecurity and hunger,” said Peterson. “In addition, funds raised from Jayhawks Flock Together are critical to the Association’s efforts to expand industry and career connections between all Jayhawks and significantly enhance the student experience. We are grateful for all event sponsors and Jayhawks who came together during a very challenging time to positively impact thousands of students and alumni.”
I am writing to let you know we have filled a key position on our senior leadership team.
I am pleased to announce Dave Cook, vice chancellor of the Edwards campus and dean of the School of Professional Studies, will become our new vice chancellor for public affairs and economic development. He will begin his new role May 1.
As vice chancellor for public affairs and economic development, Dave will serve as senior advisor to me and the university’s leadership team on issues of communications, public affairs and economic development. He will oversee all messaging, outreach and government relations to advance KU’s interests at the local, state and national levels. He will have responsibility for internal and external communications and message integration across all KU campuses, affiliates and partners. And he will coordinate our economic development efforts with an initial focus on chamber and industry relations and workforce development issues.
You will note the phrase “economic development” is new to this vice chancellor title. This change reflects my belief that economic development, broadly defined, must continue to be elevated as a priority for KU.
Dave’s background in higher education policy, public affairs and workforce development make him an ideal fit for this position. Moreover, his experience across multiple KU campuses and his relationships with key partners enable him to immediately advance our efforts to elevate KU’s status, attract top students and scholars, and improve in every aspect of our mission.
As vice chancellor of the Edwards campus since 2014, Dave has been chief executive officer of the campus, launched a new instruction site in Leavenworth, and overseen Professional & Continuing Education. Additionally, he has developed extensive relationships with industry leaders, workforce development groups, elected officials and community colleges. Under his leadership, the campus increased enrollment by 36 percent and launched 16 new academic degree programs and 21 new academic certificates leveraging traditional, hybrid and online models.
Prior to his role at Edwards, Dave served for 14 years in multiple administrative and faculty positions at KU Medical Center. From 2008-13, he was associate vice chancellor of the Institute for Community Engagement and associate director of the Institute for Community & Public Health. From 2008-11, he was executive director of the Midwest Cancer Alliance. Before that, he was assistant vice chancellor for public affairs from 2005-08 and director of Health and Technology Outreach from 2002-05.
In addition to his time at KU Medical Center, from 2011-12 he completed an American Council on Education fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dave first earned tenure as a faculty member in the KU School of Medicine. He is now a full professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Like many universities, KU faces challenges in enrollment and funding — and that was before the unprecedented challenges we now face as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Now more than ever, KU needs to be innovative in how we recruit students, develop new teaching models, partner with industry, serve an increasingly diverse population, and align our campuses for maximum impact. Dave has expertise in all of these areas, and as such, he is a great fit for this position.
Of course, Dave moving into this new role means we will also have a change in leadership at our Edwards campus. Provost Bichelmeyer will provide additional detail about our plans for the Edwards campus within the next few days.
I want to thank Julie Murray for serving as interim vice chancellor for public affairs for the past four months while continuing her role as my chief of staff. She has guided us through a legislative session, helped frame our Strategic Planning 2020 process, and been central to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful for her leadership during this transition period.
Please join me in welcoming Dave to his new role. I know he can count on your support as we work together to move KU forward.
On Thursday, March 12, Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, KU Alumni Association President and Megan McGinnis, Assistant Director of Student Programs, shared the following message with Student Alumni Network members.
Our thoughts go out to all who have been affected by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). In coordination with the University’s decision to conduct classes online, we will cancel all Student Alumni Network events for the next 60 days to further protect our Jayhawk community. These include the Mocktails & Mingle for Architecture on March 18, Wine & Wax on March 19, and Big Jay’s Recess on April 2.
In addition to continuing your classes online, you can stay connected to Jayhawk alumni through KU Mentoring.
Please do all you can to remain healthy and safe. Watkins Health Services offers helpful guidance for reducing your risks and taking steps if you experience symptoms.
Your well-being remains our top priority during this challenging time.
Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09
KU Alumni Association President
Assistant Director of Student Programs
On Wednesday, March 11, Chancellor Douglas A. Girod and Provost Barbara A. Bichelmeyer shared the following message to students, faculty and staff.
KU leaders have been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. We know that some members of the Jayhawk community have been in areas with reported cases, and we don’t expect to be immune from this virus. We have a strong team that is assessing conditions regionally and across the nation and is making recommendations guided by the following principles:
Keep KU open so it can provide services to the fullest extent possible given unprecedented circumstances.
Maintain continuity of operations that support the academic and research missions of the university.
Prevent the spread of the disease at KU and beyond.
Protect members of the KU community through self-quarantine and social distancing, especially the three groups at greatest risk:
those who may have been exposed,
those who have chronic health challenges,
those who are currently sick.
Encourage all members of the KU community to be informed and practice healthy behaviors by following CDC recommendations.
Protect equity for our most vulnerable employees and students, as much as possible, as we respond to the situation.
Respond with agility to the fluid and changing nature of the situation.
Provide clear communications to all members of the KU community.
Provide exceptions for mission-critical activities on a case-by-case basis.
Delayed Resumption of In-person Classes Until March 23
To help protect the health of all members of our community, including those who may be at higher risk of the effects of COVID-19, the resumption of in-person classes will be delayed until March 23.
Next week, March 16-22, we ask that faculty prepare to transition their course content, including lectures, to online instructional platforms, such as Blackboard. Every KU course already has an existing Blackboard shell available for faculty to start the process. Beginning the week of March 23, courses will be taught remotely using online tools. We anticipate needing to stay online for several weeks, however, our team will reassess the need to continue remote-only instruction each week, starting March 28. There will be no schedule change to courses already online.
This approach limits in-person exposure after spring break to align with the estimated COVID-19 incubation period, and allows faculty members a modest amount of time to prepare and begin the transition to online instruction. It also keeps the university functioning and helps students continue toward their educational goals.
For more of the University’s statement and resources from professional health services, visit coronavirus.ku.edu.
Update regarding Big 12 and NCAA Championships
From Kansas Athletics:
In addition to the actions taken today by the Big 12 Conference and NCAA, Kansas Athletics will cancel all planned fan activities surrounding the men’s and women’s Big 12 and NCAA Basketball Championships, including pregame parties and pep rallies.
If you purchased Big 12 Tournament tickets through the Kansas Athletics Ticket Office, you will receive a refund for games impacted by the Big 12 Conference’s decision.
Read more of the statement from Kansas Athletics, as well as the statements from the Big 12 Commissioner and the NCAA president.
In the grand scheme of our 155 year-old University, a decade is barely a blip. But that doesn’t mean the past 10 years have gone without notable accomplishments.
We welcomed presidential visits, brought the original rules of basketball home and said farewell to a home on Daisy Hill. We revered Jayhawks who won the Nobel Peace Prize, Rhodes Scholarships, MacArthur fellowships and an Academy Award.
Jayhawks have much to be proud of.
KU Cancer Center achieves NCI designation
“I am here,” said Kathleen Sebelius, g’80, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “to formally award the University of Kansas Cancer Center with the prestigious designation as a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center.” With that proclamation on July 12, 2012, the University succeeded in its longtime quest for NCI designation, transforming cancer research and care for Kansas and the region to a gold standard.
Alumnus wins Nobel Peace Prize
President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for his efforts at ending a civil war that ravaged his country for more than 50 years. Santos, b’73, visited KU in 2012 and returned in 2017 to receive an honorary degree. The Colombian leader was not the only sitting president to visit KU during the last decade: In 2015, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit KU in more than a century.
Rock Chalk Champions
It was a decade of dominance for KU men’s basketball, including 14 straight Big 12 titles and Final Fours in 2012 and 2018. Allen Fieldhouse hosted numerous legendary players and performances, including an overtime classic against Missouri in 2012 and Frank Mason III’s National Player of the Year season in 2017.
The women’s outdoor track and field team won the national championship in 2013, and KU’s volleyball team reached its first final four in 2015. KU Debate also won the 2018 National Debate Tournament—its sixth national championship.
Honors and Awards
KU students, faculty and alumni won numerous prestigious awards during the past decade.
The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and most celebrated fellowship in the world, and each year just 32 students from the United States are selected. Two Jayhawks received the coveted award: Kelsey Murrell, c’12, became KU’s 26th Rhodes Scholar in 2011, and Shegufta Huma, c’17, was named a Rhodes Scholar in 2016.
Two Jayhawks were named MacArthur Fellows in the past ten years. Often called “genius grants,” the fellowship provides a $500,000 no-strings-attached grant that helps exceptional artists, scholars, scientists and teachers to pursue projects.
Marla Spivak, PhD’89, was named a 2010 MacArthur Fellow. She is a McKnight Distinguished Professor in entomology at the University of Minnesota and an international leader on honey bee research.
Sarah Deer, c’96, l’99, was a winner of the MacArthur fellowship in 2014. Deer is a legal scholar, strategist and advocate for policies and legislation designed to help Native American tribal courts more effectively address violence against women. She returned to KU in 2017 as a professor in the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and the School of Public Affairs & Administration.
In 2012, the University began awarding honorary degrees at Commencement to recognize intellectual, scholarly, professional, or creative achievement, or service to humanity. It is the highest honor bestowed by the University.
Kevin Willmott, a KU professor of film & media studies, was nominated for and won his first Academy Award in 2019. Willmott was a co-writer on Spike Lee’s film “BlacKkKlansman,” which won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The rules come home
The original rules of basketball, penned by James Naismith in 1891, were brought to a public auction in December 2010. Jayhawk David Booth, c’68 g’69, spent a record $4.3 million to bring the rules home.
“[The rules are] incredibly important and they should be at the University of Kansas,” Booth said. “Naismith was there 40 years. He invented basketball and Phog Allen was one of the key figures in making it so popular.”
The DeBruce Center opened in 2016 to host the historic rules, along with other basketball history exhibits and a cafe.
Far Above: The campaign for Kansas raises more than $1.6 billion
Far exceeding its original goal of $1.2 billion, Far Above, The Campaign for Kansas, had raised $1.66 billion when it ended June 2016. The campaign, which began in July 2008 and was managed by KU Endowment, boosted support for students, faculty, facility and programs, creating 735 new scholarships and fellowships, 53 new professorships and 16 new buildings or major renovations. During the campaign, the University also celebrated its sesquicentennial, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first day of classes on September 12, 1866.
The implosion of McCollum Hall in 2015 changed the Lawrence campus skyline, as KU witnessed unprecedented building and expansion over the past decade. KU Housing alone saw several buildings built or renovated, including Self, Oswald, Downs and McCarthy halls, Stouffer Apartments plus Corbin and GSP. The KU School of Pharmacy received a state-of-the-art home on West Campus, and the school’s expansion in Wichita was made possible thanks to state support. The KU School of Business moved from Summerfield into beautiful new Capitol Federal Hall, while the KU Medical Center welcomed the new Health Education Building to its Kansas City campus. A new KU School of Medicine Salina Campus grew, along with major projects in Lawrence, including Rock Chalk Park, Central District, KU School of Engineering expansion, Spencer Museum of Art renovation and more.
The 2010s were a decade of unprecedented growth at the University under Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little’s leadership. In 2017, Gray-Little stepped down as chancellor of the University, a position she held since 2009.
Douglas A. Girod, formerly executive vice chancellor of the KU Medical Center, was named KU’s 18th chancellor in July 2017. At the KU Medical Center, he oversaw the educational, research, patient care and community engagement missions of the schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions.
Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, succeeded Kevin Corbett, c’88, as Alumni Association president in 2015, continuing a decade of sustained growth and impact, including the creation of the KU Mentoring program and the Jayhawk Career Network. During that time, the Student Alumni Association became the Student Alumni Network (SAN), eliminating dues for student members. The group quickly grew to become the largest student organization at KU and the biggest of its kind in the Big 12. Similarly, loyal alumni fueled the growth of the Presidents Club to record numbers, allowing the Association continue its vital work to advocate for the University of Kansas, communicate with Jayhawks in all media, recruit students and volunteers, serve students and alumni, and unite Jayhawks worldwide.
The University lost some of its top Jayhawks including chancellors Robert Hemenway, in 2015, and Del Shankel, in 2018. Several other beloved Jayhawks left us in the last decade, including Max Falkenstien, c’47, the voice of the Jayhawks for more than 60 years; the legendary Coach Don Fambrough, d’48; and Hal Sandy, j’47, creator of our smiling Jayhawk, plus too many more to name. These incredible Jayhawks will forever be remembered fondly by alumni who love KU.
Bonus: Your favorites
To cap off this list, we had to include some of your favorites. Here are some of our readers’ most popular blog posts:
When Matt Lindberg reached out to us about a special 10-year anniversary surprise for his wife Sarah, we couldn’t pass up the chance to give the Life Members a tour of campus to see their alma mater, old and new.
Ten years since they last visited campus has been 10 years too long for this Jayhawk couple. Matt, j’08, and Sarah Strathman Lindberg, c’09, returned to Lawrence October 11 to find a campus filled with change, but still familiar.
Their day began with a trip to the Oread Hotel, a far cry from the pile of rubble that was once the Crossing. On the 9th-floor rooftop terrace, familiar sights mixed with the new: A giant apartment complex across the street from the nearly 100-year-old Memorial Stadium, and renovated Jayhawk Boulevard and Memorial Drive connecting historic campus buildings.
Next, a walk down Jayhawk Boulevard past Fraser Hall where the couple met in French class, and Watson Library, home to studying among the stacks.
“It still feels comfortable walking around. I recognize everything,” Matt said. “It still feels like campus to me.”
The tour brought the pair to Matt’s old stomping grounds at the School of Journalism and the University Daily Kansan, where memories of 2008 came back.
Matt was on the paper’s staff as a student, including serving as special sections editor his senior year.
“After KU won the title, Mario Chalmers came into the Kansan offices asking for a paper, apologizing for not having his KU student ID,” he said. “I think we gave him a dozen copies.”
From there, the couple trekked across campus to the new football complex, which has seen massive changes since the Lindbergs’ graduation after the 2007-’08 Orange Bowl season.
They were able to poke their head into the football facilities, in part due to their fandom: They spent the night camping for front-row seats in the student section during the Jayhawks’ 12-1 season.
The last stop on the tour was the DeBruce Center, where the couple got to check out the “Original Rules of Basket Ball,” an exhibition that features a recording of James Naismith describing his invention.
After a full morning of tours, the Lindbergs were sent off to explore Mass Street and Lawrence, thanks to gift cards from KU Alumni restaurant partners Papa Keno’s Pizza, Jefferson’s and Merchants.
In between stops to see the newest additions to the campus, the Lindbergs were happy to reminisce about memories of the little things.
“For me, it’s been walking up and down the hills,” Sarah said. “I did that so many times, and now here I am doing it again, except now I’m not going to class.”
For Matt, it’s a return to what was once normal. “Going into the Kansan room, I haven’t been there since I graduated. I used to be in there every day.”
Despite everything that’s changed, the campus contains a spirit that continues to last.
“It feels very much the same, but current,” Matt said. “Some things just haven’t changed, and I like it.”
“We were fortunate to have great candidates who clearly understood the opportunities and challenges,” said Carl Lejuez, interim provost & executive vice chancellor. “Ron has an exceptional track record of success in his endeavors and programs, both at KU and at High Point. I appreciate his insight into the changing environments for pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical research, and I believe he will be an outstanding leader of the School of Pharmacy.”
Ragan will succeed Kenneth Audus, who in November 2018 announced his decision to step away from the leadership role after 15 years. The School of Pharmacy offers the only pharmacy program in Kansas and has a presence on three KU campuses: Lawrence, Kansas City and Wichita. The school received more than $15 million in research funding in fiscal year 2018 and ranks seventh in the nation by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. Approximately 150 students are accepted annually into the Pharm.D. professional degree program after completing two years of pre-pharmacy coursework. The program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, and students in the class of 2018 achieved a first-time pass rate of 100% on the North American Pharmacists Licensure Exam.
“KU is recognized nationally and internationally for its clinical and graduate programs in pharmacy,” Ragan said. “This recognition is directly related to the exceptional faculty, staff and students we attract. I am proud to be a graduate of both the clinical program and the graduate program at KU and am honored to be returning to my alma mater as the eighth dean in the 134-year history of the school. There are great opportunities ahead, and this is the ideal time to return to Kansas and build on the success the school has enjoyed over the years.”
Ragan has been at High Point University, in High Point, North Carolina, since 2012. As founding dean of the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy, Ragan has overseen development of a program that now enrolls 189 students. He also helped design the $120 million facility that opened in 2017. Prior to joining High Point, where he is also a professor, Ragan held several positions at KU. From 2004 to 2012, he was associate dean for academic affairs, managing a variety of curricular affairs for the school. During this time he also served on leadership teams that led construction of the Pharmacy Building and established the satellite teaching facility in Wichita. Between 1998 and 2011, Ragan directed KU’s nontraditional Pharm.D. program, a 44-credit-hour program that bridged professionals through the degree upgrade process. He initially joined the KU faculty as an adjunct instructor of pharmacy practice for the 1997-1998 academic year.
From 2000 to 2013 Ragan was president of Midwest Pharmaceutical Consulting Inc. His professional experience also includes direct patient care positions at independent and medical center pharmacies. While at KU as a student he worked at the Student Health Pharmacy in Watkins Health Center. His graduate student tenure also included positions as a graduate teaching assistant and as a researcher in pharmacology and toxicology. Ragan has published in various journals on topics related to neuronal cell death, drug therapy and pharmacy education research.
He is a member of the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists and served on its board of directors from 2013 to 2017. He is also a member of the American Pharmacists Association, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the Society of Neuroscience, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and more. His service commitments include work on several committees and organizations at the school, university, community and regional levels. He received a KU Center for Teaching Excellence award in 2009, and he also received the 2003 PRISM Award from the Greater Kansas City Public Relations Society of America. In 1989, he was selected as the Kansas Pharmacist Association Distinguished Young Pharmacist of the Year.
Ragan has a doctor of philosophy and a master’s degree in pharmacology and toxicology from KU. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from KU, and he has an associate’s degree from Butler County Community College. He is a licensed pharmacist in Kansas and North Carolina.
Lejuez expressed appreciation for those involved in the successful search effort.
“The dean of pharmacy search committee — led by Michael Branicky, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and past dean of the School of Engineering — worked diligently to identify great candidates and involve faculty, students and staff from all our campuses,” Lejuez said. “Our administrative support staff worked without the assistance of a search firm, and they and the others in the search committee did a remarkable job. I am grateful for their service.”
This weekend marks the anniversary of an event that many Jayhawks would rather forget. The Crossing, a campus icon, was demolished in 2008 to make way for the Oread Hotel.
The building opened in 1923 as Rock Chalk Café. It served as a lunch haven for students and catered to soldiers during World War II. Through the years, it became a go-to spot for students to spend an afternoon relaxing on the porch or playing darts inside. And if a student was hungry, Yello Sub and the Glass Onion were right next door.
Andrea Graham and her college boyfriend, Brandon, were big fans of the bar during their time at KU in the early 2000s. “My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, threw me a surprise 22nd birthday party at the Crossing,” says Andrea, j’02. “We loved that place!”
After a new owner took over in 2006, the bar stayed open until the teardown date arrived. The nine-story hotel complex opened in 2010.
In total, the bar was open for 85 years at 12th Street and Oread Avenue. The bar’s name fluctuated as owners changed in the 70s and 80s. Monikers for the dive bar included New Haven, Catfish Bar ‘N Grill, and Rock Chalk Bar. It became known only as The Crossing in 1988.
It may be hard to believe but sometimes the crisp, cool yet sunny season of fall skips the Hill and, simply put, autumn just doesn’t fall onto campus. Many years the blistering Kansas summers turn directly into chilly, breezy winter days and we’re left wondering…”Where was fall?”
Not this year—fall arrived on the Hill with style
A few days of rainfall turned dreary, dull landscapes into brightly beaming yellows, lively greens and olives and fiery reds fit for a crimson (and blue) campus.
It seems as though the leaves turned overnight, and all of a sudden every scene on campus was picture-perfect. We were even given a warm day with blue skies among a cloudy, cool week.