Latest results of COVID-19 entry testing

Posted on Aug 25, 2020 in Campus News and News

Strong Hall Jayhawk

Chancellor Girod shared the following message on August 25, 2020.

Students, faculty, and staff,

We have posted the latest results from our community COVID-19 saliva testing.

As of Monday evening, 222 people have tested positive out of 19,452 entry test results received, for a positivity rate of 1.14%.

The overall positivity rate is in line with what we expected and are prepared to manage, and it represents a slight decrease from the initial round of results we shared last Thursday. We always expected to see some positive tests from this effort. Notably, our positivity rate is lower than rates of the general population from Douglas County. We know our situation is fluid and can change rapidly, but overall, these results suggest we are starting the semester in a good place.

As a reminder, we’ve conducted this testing upon return to campus before the beginning of on-campus activities and classes for two key reasons:

First, we want to identify positive cases early and ensure that they are isolating appropriately to prevent community spread. Those who test positive receive instructions to self-isolate, in accordance with guidelines from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, along with additional instructions from Watkins Health Services. All members of our community must follow these directions closely.

Second, we want to establish baseline levels of positivity rates among our campus populations to determine appropriate safety, infection prevention, education, and testing efforts moving forward. This baseline testing will inform more targeted testing efforts in the future.

Our Pandemic Medical Advisory Team, which features nine of the region’s top medical and public health professionals, guides our overall approach in these areas with an eye toward data and scientific evidence.

As we use these overall results to form a baseline, we will be able to move forward with more targeted testing efforts with specific populations.

Faculty, staff, and students who didn’t get tested during our initial rounds of testing can make an appointment online to receive a test near the mobile testing unit at Watkins Health Services at protect.ku.edu/covid-19-testing-information. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should call Watkins Health Services directly at 785-864-9507 to arrange an appointment, or contact your primary care physician.

Some results from last weekend’s tests are not included in today’s update, and we plan to publish an additional round of results from our entry testing on Friday.

We also have updated numbers for our Greek community, which has an overall positivity rate of 5.47%. We applaud that community for participating in our testing efforts so far and for proactively working with us to take measures to improve health and safety. We commend the members of this community who are taking positive steps to this end, and encourage that work to continue.

No single group will be ultimately responsible for our overall success or failure in combating this disease. That responsibility rests with all of us.

The ways to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 remain clear: Wear a mask, stay six feet apart from others, and wash your hands. Again, all of us need to do our part.

In looking around campus this week, we saw a lot of positive signs: a lower-density overall environment, students wearing masks inside and outside, and social distancing in classrooms. Keeping that up will be key this semester.

While we may have fewer people than usual on Mount Oread this fall, it’s still good to see classes starting up again. To all of you who have worked so hard to enable us to reopen campus while continuing to prioritize health and safety – thank you.

Welcome back, Jayhawks.

Respectfully,

Doug

Douglas A. Girod
Chancellor

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Updating our community on COVID-19 testing results

Posted on Aug 20, 2020 in Campus News and News

Strong Hall

Chancellor Girod shared the following message on August 20, 2020.

Students, faculty, and staff,

I want to share some information and updates with you now that we’ve reviewed some initial results from our testing efforts as our community returns to campus.

We have posted initial results from our community COVID-19 saliva testing for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses. The results show the total tests administered and positive results for both students and faculty/staff, along with positivity rates for each group.

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, 89 people have tested positive out of 7,088 entry test results received, for a positivity rate of 1.25%. Of the 89 positive cases, 87 are students and two are faculty and staff. We plan to post additional updates on the website on Tuesday of next week.

When we decided to move forward with broad entry testing of our community, we knew that inevitably we would receive some positive results. This positivity rate is in line with what we’ve expected and prepared for as we began this process in consultation with our Pandemic Medical Advisory Team.

We’ve conducted this testing upon return to campus before the beginning of on-campus activities and classes for two key reasons:

First, we want to identify positive cases early and ensure that they are isolating appropriately away from campus. Those who test positive receive instructions to self-isolate, in accordance with guidelines from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, along with additional instructions from Watkins Health Services. All members of our community must follow these directions closely.

Second, we want to establish baseline levels of positivity rates among our campus populations to determine appropriate safety, infection prevention, education, and testing efforts moving forward. We plan to continue more targeted testing effort and random sampling of our population after this initial round of testing.

In addition to the numbers from the early rounds of testing, we have also identified a few trends.

A large majority of the 87 overall student positives have come from our fraternity and sorority community. Last night, I met with leaders in these communities along with other campus officials to stress the importance of adhering to the health and safety guidelines and rules we’ve laid out while laying out some additional policy recommendations. And we’ll follow up with these groups with targeted additional testing efforts as needed.

Also of note, our staged move-in process at KU Student Housing helped to identify positive cases in the on-campus housing community earlier so these individuals can isolate at their permanent addresses before coming to campus. Thanks to that preparation, so far we do not have any cases isolating in student housing. We expect that will likely change as new students continue to move in, and we are prepared to offer spaces for those students who need to self-isolate.

We know what works to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask. Stay six feet apart from others. Wash your hands frequently. Use our CVKey app to check your symptoms for COVID-19 each day. Refrain from hosting social gatherings and events. And remember to think not just about yourself, but about the good of the community, in every decision you make.

We know that challenges with following these requirements are not limited to any one group in particular. If we are to open successfully and avoid moving more fully online as other universities across the country have done in recent days, all of us – students, faculty, and staff alike – will have to be the very best versions of ourselves.

As a final reminder: our initial round of testing is mandatory for students, faculty, and staff who plan to be on campus in Lawrence or Overland Park before Sept. 7. If you have not yet set an appointment to receive a test through a drive-up site, please visit https://protect.ku.edu/covid-19-testing-information and sign up soon. Students living in KU Student Housing will receive testing through the move-in process and do not need to sign up for an appointment. Those on the KU Edwards Campus should refer to specific testing instructions for that campus.

During the summer, so many of our faculty and staff have spent countless hours to prepare for the coming days. It is up to each of us to determine our success moving forward.

Respectfully,

Doug

Douglas A. Girod
Chancellor

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COVID-19 tests required for students, faculty, staff in Lawrence

Posted on Aug 5, 2020 in Campus News and News

Strong Hall

Chancellor Girod shared the following message on August 5, 2020.

Students and colleagues,

An important part of a successful fall semester is helping to keep our KU and Lawrence community safe by minimizing exposures to the COVID-19 virus.  One way to do this is to identify those among us who have the infection, even without symptoms, as we all return to campus. We will accomplish this by using a simple, non-invasive, saliva-based test for students, faculty and staff on re-entry to campus.

This message includes important instructions for how faculty, staff, and students on our Lawrence and Edwards campuses can obtain a COVID-19 test before our fall semester begins later this month.

This testing will be mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff on our Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

Saliva-based tests will be provided at no charge for faculty, staff, and students in partnership with Clinical Reference Laboratory in Lenexa, Kansas. We will begin providing tests for students in KU Student Housing as part of the move-in process that is beginning later this week.

Other students, faculty, and staff in Lawrence should visit protect.ku.edu/covid-19-testing-information to sign up for an appointment at one of two drive-up testing sites. Students and employees at the Edwards Campus will receive separate instructions directing them on how to complete a test before the semester begins, but are also able to use Lawrence testing if it is more convenient for them.

It is my hope that you will view this testing event not only as an opportunity for you as an individual but also about a chance to demonstrate your responsibility to the health of our entire community. If we are to be successful in welcoming more of our population back to campus this fall, all of us will have to do our part. This testing is an important step in the process, and I encourage each of you to take advantage of it.

Positive faculty and staff results will be shared with KU Human Resources, and students’ positive results will be shared with KU Student Affairs and KU Student Housing, if applicable, along with the individual’s local health department in order to inform protective actions for our community. Watkins Health Services will also receive notification of positive results, and those who test positive will be contacted by a health official.

A testing opportunity like this is one way we can demonstrate personal responsibility to prioritize the health of our community. Again, visit protect.ku.edu/covid-19-testing-information to learn more about how you can obtain a COVID-19 test before returning to campus.

I know these are trying times, and I appreciate all of the hard work and dedication our faculty and staff have shown in preparing for the semester ahead. As we all respond to evolving circumstances, I know members of our Jayhawk community will work together and support each other in the days and weeks to come.

Respectfully,

Doug

Douglas A. Girod
Chancellor

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2020 Commencement rescheduled for spring 2021

Posted on Jul 29, 2020 in Campus News and News

Strong Hall

Chancellor Girod shared the following message on July 29, 2020.

Jayhawks,

Earlier this year, we postponed our 2020 Commencement due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, in the meantime, hosted an online recognition event commemorating the Class of 2020. During that online event, we promised the graduates they would get to walk down the Hill during an in-person event as soon as it’s possible to do so — and that’s a promise we look forward to fulfilling.

I am writing to let you know we have ruled out the possibility of hosting a Commencement ceremony during the fall semester. Instead, we will target spring 2021 to celebrate the 2020 graduates with a Commencement ceremony on Mount Oread.

At this time, we are hoping to host two separate Commencement events — one for the Class of 2021 on Sunday, May 16, and the other for the Class of 2020 on a yet-to-be determined weekend in May. Of course, our planning is subject to change based on evolving circumstances and the latest medical guidance.

Additionally, given that Commencement typically brings about 25,000 guests to Lawrence from across the nation and the world, we will be sure to coordinate with community partners as we determine the best way to celebrate our graduates.

We will continue to monitor circumstances and provide you more information later this fall.

Respectfully,

Doug

Douglas A. Girod
Chancellor

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Chancellor’s Message: Opposition to new federal guidance on international students

Posted on Jul 8, 2020 in Campus News and News

Strong Hall

Chancellor Girod shared the following message on Wednesday, July 8.

Colleagues,

Yesterday, Provost Bichelmeyer shared with you a new federal policy regarding fall enrollment for F-1 students in the Student and Visitor Exchange Program. As a result of this new policy, it appears the decisions we make regarding assignments of instructional modes to courses can ultimately determine whether international students are able to stay at KU, in the United States, or whether they must leave the country.

I write today to assure you that the University of Kansas joins peer institutions nationwide in strongly condemning this new federal policy. Moreover, I want you to know we are coordinating with our peers in both the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to encourage federal lawmakers to reconsider this truly mean-spirited and unworkable policy.

As AAU President Mary Sue Coleman articulated yesterday, this federal policy is misguided and deeply cruel to the tens of thousands of international students who come to the United States every year, whose lives would be thrown into chaos as a result of this policy. This new policy is also likely to further damage our nation’s universities, which are already struggling with unprecedented uncertainty and financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To put it plainly, blocking and possibly expelling international students in the middle of their studies is inhumane, serves no one’s interests, and would set back the United States’ ability to attract the brightest minds to study here.

Our university’s Office of Federal Relations continues to work this issue and is in touch with Kansas’ federal delegation in Washington. We are also monitoring this morning’s newest development, which is that Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding the new policy. We will keep you posted as new information becomes available. In the meantime, it’s imperative that we all continue our work toward developing hybrid and hyflex courses for the fall semester that can reach our students wherever they may be.

As you know, we continue our planning to reopen campus to the greatest extent possible while maintaining health and safety as our top priority. We will stand firm against federal pressure that in any way compromises that priority.

Respectfully,

Doug

Douglas A. Girod
Chancellor

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Seattle Jayhawk feeds the front lines

Posted on Jul 1, 2020 in Campus News and News

Ellen KuwanaIt started as a simple idea: donate pizza to the lab workers processing COVID-19 tests at the University of Washington’s virology labs.

But for Ellen Kuwana, c’92, her plan to utilize her lab experience to safely deliver food to health care workers in her free time continued to grow. A side hustle turned into a full-time commitment on weekends and eventually led Kuwana to quit her full-time job to focus on supporting both front-line workers and local restaurants in the Seattle area.

Kuwana, a freelance science writer, launched We Got This Seattle to spend her workdays coordinating donations, picking up food from Seattle-area businesses, and bringing the food to lab workers and other health care personnel.

The daughter of a KU chemistry professor, Kuwana graduated from the University with a biology degree before earning her master’s degree at UC San Francisco, where she also worked in research labs. Since then, she’s called Seattle home.

How did We Got This Seattle grow from a one-time idea to a full-time job?

“I would not have embarked on this road had I not been a scientist by training. In January and February 2020, I was spending a lot of time on Twitter following science journalists discussing the situation in China and Italy with the novel coronavirus. Most of our friends, in part because my husband is an MD–PhD, are in science or medicine.

I knew UW Virology was working around the clock, literally 24–7 to process the COVID-19 tests, with 80 people per shift. Health care workers are a visible workforce who get recognition for their work, and I felt the lab personnel deserved some recognition for their part in keeping everyone safe. I tweeted out to three local pizza places, asking who wanted to help me send pizzas as a thank you to UW Virology. I got a donation from one within three minutes. I figured that I could deliver the food safer than a random driver because of my lab training. You learn to not touch your face, and to be very aware of what you are touching, as well as how to properly put on and remove protective gear.

With my husband working six days a week in a hospital, I could not completely keep myself safe, so I decided to do some good with an amount of risk that I was qualified to mitigate to the extent possible. I was working two jobs at the time, and delivering food on Friday, Saturday and Sunday when I wasn’t working my main job. 

This was really just me from March 13 to April 4. Then Signe Burke, who works full time at Amazon, contacted me and wanted to help. She’s been a lifesaver and has helped me with fundraising and tracking the eight to 10 deliveries each day. On April 1, I got a little scared for my safety and hired two college students to help me with picking up and delivering food, as a way to lower my personal risk of getting sick. This was out of concern for myself, but also to protect my husband’s well-being as much as possible, as he is an essential worker. 

On April 10, I quit my job, because this effort was taking 40 to 50 hours a week. It was a tough decision in many ways to quit and fill that time with unpaid volunteer work, yet it also felt right. Sometimes you just know. At the same time I was deciding to quit my job, restaurants had closed. So what began as a gesture of appreciation, delivering food, became a lifeline of meals.”

What’s your relationship with the restaurants?

“The first few meals were donated, but as restaurants went takeout-only and offices and the University of Washington closed, revenue was down 80 to 90 percent for most restaurants. I set up a personal Facebook fundraiser and raised $25,000, then found a 501(c)(3) called Open Collective and connected that to the WeGotThisSeattle.co website so that people could make tax-deductible donations with 100 percent of funds going to local restaurants. I find out what front-line sites need, order from one of 65 plus restaurants I’m working with, pick up the food, and deliver it to a point person at a hospital, clinic, firehouse, homeless shelter, ambulance company, etc. I took the same work ethic and sense of professionalism into this volunteer effort as I would into a $1 million-dollar grant-funded research project.

I didn’t set out to do this—it just snowballed and the need was there. Not only did people in hospitals and labs need meals, but also restaurants desperately needed the business. Almost all have given me some kind of discount, and a few have been able to make rent or bring back a few workers because of the support of We Got This Seattle. The journalist in me loves asking questions, which is how I found out that one Thai restaurant that contacted me and donated two meals were $1500 behind on rent! I made it a point to order more meals from this Thai restaurant and got them enough business that they could pay rent on time. It was a win-win. So our mission statement reflects the importance of supporting local restaurants: Our dual mission is to support our front-line workers and local restaurants during times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

And I know it’s meant a lot to the restaurants. One other component of this project is that Seattle has a vibrant Chinatown–International District, and we often go there for food. There are wonderful gift stores and a strong sense of history that you can sense and touch. There have been racist incidents: windows broken, graffiti, business owners threatened. It became important for me to order from many restaurants there as a show of support (and who doesn’t love Chinese food after a long day at work?). Everyone is trying to help each other. Every one of those restaurants has discounted the boxed meals for We Got This Seattle. They suggest other restaurants I should support, if I can. It’s a great community, and I hope everyone weathers this tough time.”

What will you remember from these months?

“There are many stories that will stick with me. An old friend got back in touch with me on Facebook to ask for my help. Her beloved father-in-law, who had been at UW for many years, died from COVID-19 complications, and she wanted to send a meal to the medical team at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) who took such great care of him. It took quite a bit of coordination and more than 20 emails, but we made it happen.

A woman who was a patient at UWMC contacted me and wanted to bring up snacks (several hundred dollars worth), thank you cards and cookies to thank the medical team, and wanted my help to coordinate a lunch, which I did. She has a cochlear implant, which she could not wear when she was sick. Imagine the fear and vulnerability of being in the ICU with this virus, and it’s hard to communicate with your medical team? She said they went above and beyond (and had to get really close to her face) to communicate with her. It was very important to her and her family to thank them, and they drove in from more than an hour away to do so.”

If you want to help, visit We Got This Seattle’s website to learn more.

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KU announces plans to return to campus this fall

Posted on Jun 15, 2020 in Campus News and News

Strong Hall

On June 15, the University of Kansas shared the following announcement with students, faculty and staff:

Colleagues,

Last month, we shared with you a document titled Guidance on Reopening Campus, which detailed our guiding principles for reopening campus in a measured, stepwise fashion. Today we write to share the newest components of our plans for the fall semester on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

Our goal is to welcome back as many students as we can while continuing to prioritize the health of our community. To do this, we must continue preparing a dynamic and flexible educational experience that accounts for the realities of life during and after a pandemic. This means rethinking everything from how we design classes, to how we deliver housing and dining services, to how we accommodate extracurricular activities and events.

Undoubtedly, the fall semester will be unlike any in history. It will require flexibility, compassion and resilience. And it will require each of us to behave responsibly and in a way that benefits the entire community. If this pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that we are all in this together.

Academic calendar

The academic calendar will change to minimize potential health hazards. Fall classes will begin as planned on August 24, and classes will conclude before Thanksgiving, at which point students are encouraged to leave campus for the semester. After Thanksgiving, there will be a study week, followed by a week of final exams conducted remotely. There will not be a Labor Day holiday or Fall Break.

Pending approval by the Kansas Board of Regents, the first day of the spring semester will change from January 19 to February 1. Stop Day and Finals Week remain unchanged. Spring Break will not occur midway through the semester as it typically does; rather, it will be added to the Winter Recess, resulting in the later-than-normal February 1 start.

Course scheduling and classroom configuration

Our goal is to maximize the in-person classroom experience to the greatest extent possible. KU is committed to ensuring the majority of students, if they choose, have the majority of their courses with in-person instruction in whole or in part. In-person scheduling will prioritize typical freshman courses, labs or courses that are most effective in-person, courses involved in the KU Core, and courses that are required to complete a degree.

To ensure flexibility and meet the specific needs of students and instructors, we will provide support this summer for faculty to design and develop fall courses so the same section can be offered in multiple formats— i.e. in-person, online and/or a hybrid approach — while ensuring that each format is a highly engaging experience for our students no matter where they may be.

To help limit the density of students in classrooms and allow for frequent cleaning, we will schedule classes from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, though most courses will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday will be utilized as a last resort.

Additionally, we will modify time between MWF classes to 15 minutes to avoid congestion in buildings, walkways, buses and other areas. We are piloting a health monitoring app that allows each Jayhawk to check symptoms and access secured buildings based on health status on a daily basis, and we are marking each building to change traffic patterns to help de-densify campus.

Students, as we finalize the class schedule this summer, those of you who have already enrolled can expect there may be some adjustments to your fall schedules. We will reach out to you in July with more information about how your schedule may change.

Testing and contact tracing

Testing and contact tracing will be key to a thoughtful and science-based return to campus. Through our on-campus Watkins Health Services, we will be partnering with The University of Kansas Health System and LMH Health to coordinate our testing and contact tracing efforts, in conjunction with Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. This partnership will enable KU to access our partners’ medical expertise, technology and data in ways that will benefit both our campus and the broader Lawrence community. We will provide further details later this summer with guidance for how our students, staff and faculty will participate in testing activities.

On-campus housing and dining

On-campus residential facilities and dining centers will be open for the fall, and modifications will be made to promote physical distancing and other health and safety measures in each building. Most facilities will operate near capacity, with additional shared community expectations in place to prioritize the health and wellness of students who live – and staff who work – in these facilities. The move-in process will be spread over a longer period of time to reduce congestion and allow for physical distancing. More information from KU Student Housing will be shared soon with students.

Faculty and staff who are at-risk and unable to return to campus

We know some of you have underlying health conditions – such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, chronic lung disease, or weakened immunity – that may put you at higher risk if exposed to the virus. We are ready to work with you to make reasonable accommodations. We will use the same process for COVID-19 as we use for other ADA accommodation requests. Details are available at https://humanresources.ku.edu/employee-accommodations. Please fill out your forms as soon as possible so we can ensure your work is covered appropriately. Per federal guidelines, please be prepared to provide documentation from your physician when you apply. Contact our ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility at accessibility@ku.edu or 785-864-7416, and they will help you make plans. If it is the case that you are not eligible for an accommodation, we will work with you to determine what options may be available to meet your needs.

Safety is each of our responsibility

While no one can ever promise complete safety to another – this was true prior to COVID-19 and will be true after – we are so appreciative of all the people who are giving tireless effort in campus workgroups to explore options that support greater safety for our campus. In sum, it is because you – students, staff and faculty – are KU’s greatest assets that we are taking a comprehensive and coordinated approach to provide for your health and wellness when you are on campus this fall.

While we are providing for your safety, we need to also ask that each of you provide for the safety of your fellow Jayhawks, as well as for your own, when you return this fall. You can expect to be asked to: sign a social responsibility pledge and commit to the actions it describes; wear a mask when you are in a space with others who may be closer than six feet apart; and adhere to social distance guidelines according to public health guidelines. You’ll learn more about our asks of you as we get closer to the fall semester.

More information to come

Of course, all of this is subject to change based on the latest medical guidance and evolving circumstances. Again, we will continue to partner with – and rely on – each of you to help us continue to develop our plans in the weeks ahead.

Thank you for all you do on behalf of KU.

Respectfully,

Doug and Barb

Douglas A. Girod
Chancellor

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

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A Commencement surprise, 50 years overdue

Posted on May 25, 2020 in Campus News and News

Rita Matusek Ashley, f'70 g'72 g'84

(Left to right: Judy Bowser, Rita Matousek Ashley and Durinda Ashley)

Walking through the Campanile, down the Hill and into Memorial Stadium at Commencement is one of KU’s greatest traditions, and the Class of 2020 had to postpone the special day. This year’s senior class shares the missed experience with the Class of 1970, which was forced to have Commencement in Allen Fieldhouse due to heavy rainfall.

In an unfortunate twist of timing, 2020 marks the Class of 1970’s year to enter the Gold Medal Club, which normally means an on-campus reunion to celebrate alumni’s 50-year anniversary. Plans for the special weekend included a walk down the Hill with the Class of 2020. 

Rita Matousek Ashley, f’70, g’72, g’84, was one of the many graduates of that class who had made plans to be in Lawrence for Commencement. Instead, she and her friend Judy Bowser, d’69, decided to visit Lawrence a couple days after the original scheduled date for a simple hike around campus.

Rita Matusek Ashley, f'70 g'72 g'84“The fact that the Class of 1970 did not get to walk down the Hill has always been a disappointment for me,” Ashley says. “I watched my husband and both of my sons walk down the Hill. I was thrilled when the 1970 class was invited to walk with the 2020 class. When that plan did not materialize I shared with friends that I was going to do the walk myself ‘just because.’”

Bowser had other ideas to make their trip special. She secretly invited their friend Durinda Ashley, d’71, and surprised Ashley with a cap and gown at the Campanile to give her friend a Commencement experience that was 50 years and three degrees overdue.

“The combination of the surprise, the perfect weather, the remnants of confetti and champagne corks at the Campanile and the walk three times made it a memorable day,” Ashley says.

Ashley’s KU experience was a unique one, as the first-generation college student came back two more times for a graduate degree in German Education and an MBA from the Edwards campus.

“The whole KU experience was memorable for me,” she says. “Ultimately, [my favorite memory] always comes back to the Rock Chalk chant. The chant is a unifying force for KU grads. The chant reminds me of the great people I got to know at KU. Those people then remind me of the valuable experiences I had at every level at KU and continue to have as a result of the experiences I shared at the University.”

—Ryan Camenzind

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KU alumnus makes Jayhawk masks that give back

Posted on May 14, 2020 in Campus News and News

John Killen

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.

“After looking at what was needed, we knew we could produce masks to help,” he says. “We went to KU first to develop the product and the campaign due to our great relationship with the University. The first masks we sold had Jayhawks on them.”

Since then, more than 200 colleges have reached out to produce masks with their school represented on them.

The production of each mask comes with a purpose. A portion of proceeds from each Jayhawk mask will go to the KU COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. In addition, WinCraft donated hundreds of masks to essential KU employees in Facilities, Housing & Dining Services, and Kansas Athletics.

 

“Wincraft is a private company and likes to give back,” Killen says. “We asked KU for a charitable component, and they suggested donations for the [COVID Relief] fund. The response has already been overwhelming, with thousands already sold.”

The machine-washable masks are available for sale at KU Bookstore and Rally House. Please note that the masks are not intended to be used as medical grade Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE.

—Ryan Camenzind

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Isolation Inquiries

Posted on May 7, 2020 in Campus News and 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

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