Leaving my legacy at KU

Posted on Oct 19, 2018 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Crimson and Blue Day banner

David Johnston, j’94, g’06, vice president for strategic communications and digital media, recalls his experience taking his oldest daughter to Crimson and Blue Day on Oct. 12.

Giving back

We’ve been talking a lot lately at work about the term “legacy” and what it means. That makes sense when you consider I work for the KU Alumni Association, which hopes to keep alumni connected to KU in ways that inspire so many Jayhawks to give back to their alma mater. You could even say that we’re in the legacy business. Yet when you boil it down to its essence, what is a legacy, really?

Throughout our strategic planning process–with working groups armed with survey data–we sought to define terms like legacy, pride, tradition and connection: the things we value and stand for at the Association. But legacy might be the most nebulous and difficult to define, even for professional communicators and self-proclaimed “word nerds” like myself. I supposed, conceptually at least, a legacy was simply something you leave behind.

Last week I learned what a legacy truly is, and I discovered that I was half-right.

Crimson & Blue Day

Oct. 12 was a big day at KU. More than 1,200 students and families came to the KU Office of Admissions’ Crimson and Blue Day Open House to tour campus and learn about admission requirements and scholarships while soaking in the spirit, pride and tradition of KU. I took my oldest daughter, Sydney, who has grown up in the shadow of Mount Oread, living in Lawrence her entire life. As a potential third-generation Jayhawk, Sydney (and her siblings, Sophie and Austin) fit the definition of a prospective legacy student at KU.

Sydney JohnstonEven a rainy day couldn’t dampen my pride as I got a rare opportunity to see KU through her fresh eyes; Watching her jaw drop in the expansive atrium of Cap Fed Hall. Getting chills while watching the video of Topher Enneking’s spellbinding spoken word ode, Welcome to KU. Seeing her giddy smile when bumping into the KU volleyball players she has idolized (and realizing they are now closer to being her peers). Sydney’s KU visit was both eye-opening and transformative… for me.

Legacy redefined

I started working at the University of Kansas in January of 2000, and not too long after, our first child was born. During my 18-year career working at KU, I have hoped that I will one day leave it a better place for the next generation. My contributions to KU, I assumed, would surely serve as my legacy, and really, what better place to make a lasting impact than at a place like KU; an institution that can–based on its bold aspirations–educate leaders, build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world.

Should Sydney decide to eventually attend KU, she’ll have the world at her fingertips with opportunities to learn, lead and succeed in ways that any proud dad would hope for his little girl. With any luck, she’ll also be left with the values and life lessons her mom and I have tried to teach her along the way.

It became clear during her visit that she was indeed ready for KU and ready to make her mark on the world. Sending her off to college–and perhaps even dropping her off at KU–will be a difficult challenge saved for another day, but I know that I would feel incredibly proud to leave her at KU. And that’s when it hit me.

Leaving my legacy at KU took on new meaning for me last week. My legacy, I discovered, is not some thing I leave behind. It is someone.

–David Johnston

The KU Alumni Association’s Legacy Relations team can help alumni families navigate the KU admissions process by scheduling campus visits, advocating for students who seek scholarships and connecting parents and grandparents to campus contacts in financial aid, housing, etc. Email Joy Maxwell, director of legacy relations, at jmaxwell@kualumni.org for more information.

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Jayhawk Generations scholars celebrate success on the Hill

Posted on Apr 29, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Jayhawk Generations Scholarship Dinner 2016
More than 40 out-of-state Jayhawks gathered Wednesday evening to celebrate a shared success on the Hill: the Jayhawk Generation scholarship.

“The goal of the Jayhawk Generations scholarship is simple: to give legacy students as much assistance as possible to carry on the KU tradition and further enrich the unparalleled atmosphere we have here on Jayhawk Boulevard,” says Joy Maxwell, c’03, j’03, director of legacy relations for the Alumni Association.

Brenna Murray, a senior English literature major from St. Robert, Missouri, says that receiving the scholarship has made a huge impact in her life. “The grant has helped me create many experiences during my time here at KU,” she says. “I have studied abroad and enjoyed internships because the resources were there through the Jayhawk Generations scholarship.”

Maxwell explains that students receiving the scholarship are huge assets to the University. “These students retain well,” she says. “They have excellent graduation rates, and they bring an out-of-state perspective into our classrooms, which only helps to diversify and grow the campus as a whole.”

The Jayhawk Generations scholarship assists out-of-state students who have a parent, step-parent, grandparent, step-grandparent, great-grandparent or legal guardian who graduated from the University of Kansas. To quality for the partial tuition waiver, incoming freshman students must meet specific requirements for grade point average and ACT or SAT scores. Renewal scholarship criteria for current KU students are based on grade point average and credit hours.

Watch our slideshow below to see more pictures from the recognition dinner, or click here to view the photos on Flickr.

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Legacy students experience KU’s game-day glory

Posted on Sep 15, 2015 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Sophomore legacy recruitment day 2015High school sophomore legacy students were treated to a special KU visit day last weekend, hosted by KU’s Office of Admissions.

A total of 224 people attended the event, including 96 sophomore students and 128 guests. Participants experienced KU in all its game-day glory, and enjoyed campus tours, lunch in the Union and presentations about what it’s like to be a Jayhawk.

One lucky attendee even won a basketball signed by the 2014-15 men’s team, which will surely entice her to enroll at the University in a few years.

After the formal program, students and their guests had a few hours to explore campus and Lawrence on their own or tailgate on the Hill before heading to the football game in Memorial Stadium.

Students and parents, as well as organizers, were pleased with the event. “We really enjoyed the entire program, and thought everything was well organized and informative,” said parent Jay Burgess. “Our ambassador did a great job of showing off the school and answering all our questions—I know I was ready to come back to school at the end of the day!”

Joy Maxwell, the Alumni Association’s director of legacy relations, declared the program a winner. “Saturday’s event was top-notch!”

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Jayhawk Generations Spotlight: Fee Family

Posted on Sep 17, 2014 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Jayhawk Generations | www.kualumni.orgEach fall we welcome new Jayhawks to the Hill, including many who are from KU families. We recognize these families in our annual online publication, Jayhawk Generations. Through our research of family trees, we discover some impressive lineages, including the Fee family of Hutchinson.

Martha Johnson Fee, c’55, and her late husband, James W. Fee, c’54, sent four of their five children to KU: Stacy Fee Shaw, b’80; Allen, c’84; Robert, c’87; and Daniel, c’91. The Fees’ tradition continues this fall, when five grandchildren will attend KU at the same time, including two incoming fourth-generation freshmen who are featured in this year’s edition of Jayhawk Generations.

Daniel Fee, c’91, sent his first Jayhawk to KU this fall. He says that he and his wife, Kimberly Koser Fee, c’92, did not insist that their daughter, Ashton, go to KU but that the memories they have shared with her and their experiences as a family cheering on the football and basketball teams might have played a role.

“As far as what I had to do with her decision making, not much,” he says. “I tried to always let Ashton know that she could go to college wherever she wanted. However, there is a GREAT school in state, at which her mom and I had a wonderful experience.”

“The University of Kansas is such a beautiful campus with very strong traditions,” Ashton says,  “It also has a strong tradition in our family. I cannot wait to be a part of that on both levels. After seeing the experience my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins had there, I didn’t want to attend college at any other place.”

With the addition of Ashton and her cousin Melissa Fee, 11 Fee grandchildren have graduated or are currently attending KU.

A few more grandchildren have not yet made their way to the Hill, but chances are the Fee KU tree will continue to grow. The tradition began with Martha’s grandfather, Otis Allen, 1896, and was continued by her father, Oliver Johnson, e’26.

To view the 2014 edition of Jayhawk Generations click here.

– Leah Kohlman

Past issues of Jayhawk Generations are also available online.

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Legacy visit day helps students kick off their KU story

Posted on Sep 23, 2013 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

High school sophomores got their first taste of life on KU’s campus at the 6th annual Sophomore Jayhawk Legacy Visit on Sept. 21. The annual event, co-hosted by the KU Alumni Association and the KU Office of Admissions, allowed sophomore legacy students to witness KU in all its game-day glory.

Guests were treated to breakfast, pictures with Baby Jay and a special presentation about being a Jayhawk. They also received a T-shirt and two free tickets to watch the KU football team beat Louisiana Tech on Saturday. 62 sophomore legacy students from Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota attended the event with their families.


The Janicke family: Devon, Clayton, Walker, Jordan and Lori

Clayton Janicke, e’91, and his wife Lori Wright Janicke, s’91, attended the event for the second time. Two years ago, their son Walker was sold on attending KU by one of its best ambassadors, Bill Self.

“It was really surreal and fun coming here and seeing everything” said Walker Janicke, who is planning to enroll for the 2014 fall semester. This year, Devon Janicke was the focus of the family of five– who will be back in two years when the youngest son, Jordan, will be a sophomore.

The Janickes have always told their sons about KU, but the legacy visit day offers much more than rhetoric. “The traditions of KU are things we’ve told them about, but until you’re sitting in Allen Field House or Memorial Stadium or walking down the Hill, until they experience it, it’s just us talking about it,” said Lori Janicke.


–Dan Storey

For more information on legacy programs and recruitment, contact Joy Maxwell, director of legacy relations, at jmaxwell@kualumni.org.

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A legacy of Jayhawks

Posted on Feb 27, 2013 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Becoming a Jayhawk is a family tradition for many of us, and this family is no exception.

Paul Carttar, c’76, current member of the KU Alumni Association’s national Board of Directors, recently sent us this photo of his family sporting KU attire.

The family includes 16 graduates of the University, two current students and 11 future Jayhawks.

Jayhawk generations family | www.kualumni.org

If you’d like your future Jayhawks to follow in your footsteps, the Alumni Association can help you continue that tradition. There are several ways to help your young Jayhawks find their way to the Hill.

Students in the sixth grade or above can be added to the Office of Admissions mailing list to receive correspondence from KU. Click here to complete the legacy recruitment program form and include your students.

Has your student already decided to attend KU? Congratulations! The Jayhawk Generations Scholarship provides tuition discounts to students from outside Kansas who have a parent or grandparent who graduated from KU. Click here to see more requirements for the program. The application deadline for fall 2014 freshmen is Nov. 1, 2013.

And if you know a legacy freshman enrolling for fall 2013,  the Association will begin work this summer on Jayhawk Generations, our annual online tribute to freshmen from KU families. We will include biographies and KU family trees for second-, third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-generation Jayhawks and beyond. Submissions will be accepted for the 2013 feature this summer, so be sure to check back for more details and deadlines.

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