Nearly 500 KU alumni and friends gathered April 13 at Murfin Stables for the Alumni Association’s Jayhawk Roundup, the Wichita Network’s largest fundraising event, which was presented this year in partnership with Kansas Athletics and Williams Education Fund. The event, typically held in the fall, moved to spring this year for the first time in its 15-year history.
The theme for the festivities was “Game of Hawks,” a playful spin on the popular fantasy epic “Game of Thrones.” Bleached-white trees with crimson leaves lined the stables and centerpieces of swords and shields adorned each table, echoes of medieval times.
The event featured silent and live auctions, with top dollars going for a trip to the 2018 Champions Classic in Indianapolis, and the KU Libraries exhibit “Commemorate the Gr8s,” which celebrates the 1988 and 2008 men’s basketball national championship teams. Guests were also treated a feast of food and drink and live music from the band Annie Up, as well as a live carving of a Jayhawk from Kansaw Carvings artist Dan Besco.
Alumni Association President Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, thanked event chairs and stable owners Dave, e’75, b’75, and Janet Lusk Murfin, d’75, for hosting the Roundup and honored longtime Wichita volunteer and 2017 Wintermote Award winner Camille Nyberg, c’96, g’98, along with Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award winners Jerry, p’69, and Lucy Burtnett, who hosted the event in 2011 and 2012.
Chancellor Doug Girod detailed the University’s recent accomplishments in Wichita, which included the debate team’s victorious run to the national championship title and the Jayhawks’ first- and second-round wins in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which brought thousands of alumni and fans to the area in March.
Several members of Kansas Athletics also attended the Roundup, including head football coach David Beaty, men’s basketball assistant coach Kurtis Townsend and Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, who was celebrating his birthday.
“We had more guests in attendance than we have had in years,” says Danielle Lafferty Hoover, c’07, director of donor relations and Wichita programs. “The fans love having University partners and KU guests in the stables—it’s like bringing a part of Lawrence to Wichita.”
Check out more pictures from Jayhawk Roundup! Photos may be downloaded for personal use. Photos from the Lamphouse Photo Booth Company can be viewed here.
New national board members are (l to r): Jay Kerutis, Portia Kibble Smith, Janet Murfin and Ryan Colaianni.
New officers and four new directors were among the University of Kansas alumni who gathered Sept. 9-10 at the Adams Alumni Center for the fall meeting of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors.
The national chair for 2016-’17 is Scott Seyfarth, Hinsdale, Illinois, and the chair-elect is Kevin Carroll, Johns Creek, Georgia. Both took office July 1. The new directors are Jay Kerutis, Mesa, Arizona; Janet Lusk Murfin, Wichita; Ryan Colaianni, Arlington, Virginia; and Portia Kibble Smith, Overland Park. Their five-year terms on the board began July 1.
Seyfarth earned his KU degree in accounting and business administration in 1983. A longtime volunteer leader for the Association’s Chicago Network, he joined the national board in 2010. He owns Hipskind Seyfarth Risk Solutions LLC in Chicago. He is an Association life member, and he and his wife, Eileen, are donors to the Presidents Club.
Carroll became part of the Jayhawk community in 1983, when he was hired as the first director of the Adams Alumni Center and manager of The Learned Club for the Association. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, he is now chief operating officer and general manager of the Atlanta Athletic Club.
He joined the Association’s national board in 2012. He and his wife, Lisa, have hosted KU student recruitment events in Atlanta and Florida. They are life members and donors to the Presidents Club.
Colaianni completed KU bachelor’s degrees in political science and journalism in 2007. Following graduation, he returned to his hometown of Arlington, Virginia, and began his career in Washington, D.C., where he is now vice president of Edelman public relations. He leads the Washington Network as president and has hosted numerous events to support the Association and student recruitment. He received the 2011 Dick Wintermote Award for his leadership. His wife, Erinn, earned her KU bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2007 and her master’s in 2008. The Colaiannis are Alumni Association life members and Presidents Club donors.
Kerutis earned his KU bachelor’s degree in personnel administration in 1982. He devoted his career to computer software, rising through the ranks at Digital River Inc. to become president of the software and digital commerce services division. Now retired, he is president of the Las Sendas Golf Club. He competed for KU as a swimmer and, as captain, led the team to two conference championships and organized a 25-year reunion of his teammates. He is a life member and Presidents Club donor. He is married to Pat Caldwell.
Murfin, a 1975 KU graduate in elementary education, helped create the annual Jayhawk Roundup in Wichita and with her husband, David, a 1975 KU graduate, has hosted the event every year at Murfin Stables. She is a member of the Wichita Network board and has volunteered for numerous programs. The Murfins are life members and Presidents Club donors. David Murfin is a member of the Kansas Board of Regents.
Kibble Smith earned her KU degree in personnel administration in 1978, and she owns PKS Executive Search & Consulting. She serves on the Kansas City Network board, and she has participated in numerous events, including the Rock Chalk Ball and ’Hawks, Helmets and Handlebars. She personally recruits students through her involvement in the local KU network as well as the Black Alumni Network, and she is an annual member of the Association.
The Alumni Association accepts nominations for the national board from January 1 through March 1 each year. The board’s nominating committee selects a slate of nominees in April, the board considers each member of the slate for election at its spring meeting. The board meets in the fall, winter and spring.
It’s not every day you get to see Baby Jay jump out of a giant birthday gift box, start a conga line and dance with Chancellor Gray-Little and former KU basketball coach Ted Owens. But that’s exactly what awaited guests at the Jayhawk Roundup on Saturday.
The annual event, now in its 14th year, took place once again at Murfin Stables in Wichita. More than 400 Jayhawk alumni, fans and friends attended to help celebrate KU’s Sesquicentennial at the birthday-themed party.
Guests enjoyed a VIP reception where they mingled with special guests Bill Self and Ted Owens, followed by dinner and dancing to a live band. Live and silent auctions also gave Jayhawks a chance to bid on unique items, including a pair of tickets to the KU vs. Oregon State men’s basketball game at the Sprint Center, a football autographed by Steve Young and Jerry Rice, and a variety of KU-themed items.
This year’s centerpieces, custom-painted birthday boxes decked out in KU colors, were also available for purchase—just in time for holiday gift-giving!
The Jayhawk Roundup is the largest gathering of KU faithful in Wichita. Proceeds from the event help enhance alumni programs, including student recruitment, career networking and our alumni lobbying program, Jayhawks for Higher Education.
A special thank you to Jayhawk Roundup hosts Dave and Janet Murfin, event chairs Glenn and Camille Nyberg, decorations chair Chris Jeter, and our Jayhawk Benefactors: Kansas Athletics, A. Scott and Carol Ritchie, Linda and John T. Stewart III and Security 1st Title.
And to all the loyal volunteers who make this event happen every year: we couldn’t do it with you! Thank you for your dedication.
Stormy weather didn’t stop Wichita Network Jayhawks from proudly representing KU in a college and career night for AVID students, held earlier this month at Marshall Middle School in Wichita. Danielle Hoover, c’07, assistant director of Wichita programs for the Association, and Wichita Network volunteers Monique Pope, c’96, Geron Bird, c’97, l’01, and Janet Murfin, d’75, were on hand for the event, which helped young people learn about opportunities available to them after high school.
Marshall Middle School, a diversely populated school in the heart of Wichita, is one of more than 50 schools in Kansas that implement the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to prepare students, especially those traditionally underrepresented in higher education, for success in high school, college and beyond.
“The students were very eager and willing to get information,” Hoover says. “They asked a lot of questions about what KU is like and what kind of programs we offer.”
Although tornado sirens in the area temporarily interrupted the event, the turnout was great and the event was a huge success, Hoover says. Most of the students attending were seventh- and eighth-graders from the middle school, although a few students from neighboring Wichita North High School also participated.
“These students look at college as a way of changing their lives,” Hoover says. “At some college fairs you hear students say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to college. That’s just what you do.’ It’s a standard. But with these students, they might be the first person in their family to go to school.”
Although the Wichita Jayhawks were earnest in their message to students about attending KU, the event wasn’t without its share of fun and games. When Hoover and the other school representatives stepped away from their tables to introduce themselves to parents and students, the Wichita Network volunteers jumped at the chance to have some fun with the Kansas State University representative.
“When we came back in, Janet, Geron and Monique had decorated his table with Jayhawks,” Hoover says. “He was a good sport about it, though.”