John Holt, j’81, l’84, is originally from Great Bend, Kansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the KU School of Journalism and a juris doctor from the KU School of Law and works as an anchor and special projects reporter for Fox4 News in Kansas City. He currently resides in Leawood, Kansas, and is a Life Member of the KU Alumni Association.
I became a Jayhawk because…
I was raised a Jayhawk! The five Holt kids are third generation Jayhawks and all of us found our way to Mount Oread.
How has KU propelled you into your current career?
In addition to my William Allen White School of Journalism degree, I remained at KU to obtain my law degree. Both helped pave the way to my current broadcast journalism career and prepared me for the challenges of a constantly evolving and challenging business.
How did KU push you to try harder or to try something new?
My professors constantly challenged me to push the envelope, whether in my broadcast classes, political science, or law school. They taught me the value of hard work and critical thinking that has stood the test of time in the “real world.”
My best advice for college students is…
Study hard, but find the fun too. Get involved in campus activities, your housing experience, and yes, the social life that is Lawrence, one of the best college towns in America (yes, I’m biased).
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
While most Jayhawks take great pride in our nationally ranked basketball program (as do I), my favorite spot on campus is Memorial Stadium. There’s nothing like “game day on the Hill,” and I return to take in football games as often as I can!
What’s the best KU tradition?
No matter where you are in the world, if you see someone in Jayhawk gear, even a complete stranger, there is an immediate connection when you smile and say “Rock Chalk!”
My favorite KU memory is…
I have so many, but I have to say perhaps the most vivid is the day I arrived on campus. I was a fresh-faced, small-town Kansas lad with much to learn not only in college, but about life in general. I had few friends in Lawrence and was starting fresh. But like so many, KU embraced me and it became not just a college, but a home.
Describe a moment, during or after your time as a KU student, when you felt the greatest sense of Jayhawk pride.
I couldn’t have been prouder to be a Jayhawk when in 2008, our football team won an Orange Bowl, followed a few months later by the basketball team winning a national championship. I was there for both, and in San Antonio, I provided basketball coverage for Fox 4 in Kansas City. It was the thrill of a lifetime to be a part of that joy!
What was the greatest gift you took with you after graduation?
The great network of fellow Jayhawk alumni all over the world!
The 2014 Homecoming Parade takes place at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26, in downtown Lawrence with a couple of familiar voices behind the microphone. John Holt, j’81, l’84, current news anchor for Fox 4, and Curtis Marsh, j’92, director of KU Info, will reunited to serve as the parade’s emcees.
Fun fact: these two Jayhawks also served as co-emcees of the 2010 Homecoming parade. The Homecoming theme was “Rock Chalk Roadtrip” and the creative entries featured a variety of transportation-themed floats. Robert Eaton, e’63, was the parade’s grand marshal.
Our popular summer event in Kansas City, ’Hawks, Helmets and Handlebars, was held last weekend at the KU Cancer Center’s Westwood Campus.
Despite having to be rescheduled—it was originally planned for the first weekend in June, but early-morning rains caused a change to the calendar—the event was a great success.
Children picked up complimentary bike helmets and had the opportunity to ride their bikes through a bicycle safety obstacle course, meet and take pictures with Big Jay, and even climb on a fire truck! Many thanks to the Johnson County Consolidated Fire Department #2 for providing a fire truck at the event.
“The weather was just gorgeous and we could not have asked for a better morning!” said Betsy Winetroub, director of Kansas City programs. “It was a rare opportunity for the Greater Kansas City Alumni Chapter to reach a wider audience.”
Prior to the event, the alumni chapter partnered with the Healthy Hawks program at the KU Medical center to host two bicycle donation drives. As a result, 95 bikes were distributed to needy children and their families. Healthy Hawks was founded in 2004 to help children and their families overcome weight-related issues.
“We hope that we were able to leave a positive KU impression on the Healthy Hawks families, and maybe—someday—those kids will attend KU!”
Check out a compilation of tweets and Instagram posts from the event. Thanks to chapter volunteers John Holt, j’81, l’84, and Jessica Nelson, j’11, for sharing the event through social media.
Got a future Jayhawk in your house? Sign them up for Future Jayhawks and they’ll receive an exclusive, KU-themed gift with each annual membership renewal, along with a special birthday card from Baby Jay and other goodies throughout the year. Email a photo of your Jayhawk to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll add it to our Future Jayhawks Facebook album!
More than 800 Jayhawks–including Coach Bill Self and his wife, Cindy–turned out for the 18th annual Rock Chalk Ball April 27 at the Overland Park Convention Center. The ball is the largest annual event hosted by the KU Alumni Association’s Kansas City Chapter.
In keeping with the “Crimson and Blues” theme, guests picked up souvenir sunglasses as they entered the reception, serenaded by the sounds of live jazz, courtesy of student musicians in the Lucas Parker Trio. A special exhibition from KU Libraries, “Rhythm and Meaning: Jazz at KU,” highlighted the libraries’ Sound Archive, one of the largest jazz collections west of the Mississippi. Guests mingled during the reception as they kept their eyes on their bids in the silent auction.
Trumpet players ushered guests into the ballroom for a rousing performance of KU favorites by KU Spirit Squad, Pep Band and Mascots. Emcee John Holt, j’81, l’84, introduced event chairs Howard, b’79, and Debbi Cohen, assoc., and Nick, b’04, and Clare Blasi, assoc. along with Brooke Briley Robison, d’01, g’04, and Mark Frutiger, b’01, who led the Rock Chalk Ball committee for the Kansas City Chapter.
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and her husband, Shade Little, continued their tradition of being the first couple on the dance floor. This year they sported their souvenir sunglasses, as did many other dancers of all ages amid the soulful sounds of the Karen Davis Project. Those who craved dessert enjoyed flaming Bananas Foster, prepared by chefs stationed throughout the ballroom
When the dancing ended and the lights came up at midnight, the party was still going strong. Jayhawks, mark your calendars for the next Rock Chalk Ball, April 26, 2014!
–Jennifer Jackson Sanner
Check out photos from Rock Chalk Ball in the slideshow below:
Click here if you can’t see the slideshow. Photos by Steve Puppe and Dan Storey.