Jayhawk insignia adorns “Korean War Hero”

Posted on Nov 11, 2014 in Alumni News and News

I spy…a Jayhawk!

This restored World War II and Korean War era F4U-4 Corsair fighter originally flew with the U.S. Naval Reserve Squadron VF-884, The Bitter Birds, based at Naval Air Station Olathe (now New Century Airport in Olathe, Kansas). The Reserve unit was created shortly after World War II and many of the squadron’s members were natives of northeast Kansas and the Kansas City area.

Restored F4U-4 Corsair fighter | photo courtesy of Jim Bryant | www.kualumni.org

Restored F4U-4 Corsair fighter | photo courtesy of Jim Bryant | www.kualumni.org

They chose as their insignia an irritated-looking Kansas Jayhawk wielding a bat with a nail in it. The unit was called to active duty in 1951 to fight in the Korean War. The unit served heroically; unfortunately 12 pilots were killed or remain missing in action in their two aircraft carrier tours during the war.

Inspired by the VF-884 insignia, in 1956 an Argentine Navy aircraft unit took the Jayhawk as their squadron insignia, but changed the blue body to green and the yellow boots to black. La Lora (female parrot) flew on these Argentine naval attack aircraft during the 1982 Falklands War and it is still displayed on the squadron’s aircraft today.

You just never know where a Jayhawk will turn up. Rock Chalk!

—Submitted by Jim Bryant, c’88, and originally posted in the Los Angeles Jayhawks Facebook group. Jim’s photos were taken at the 2014 National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, this past September. The aircraft’s name is “The Korean War Hero” and more information is available at www.koreanwarhero.com.

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An evening with Naismith, round two

Posted on Nov 13, 2013 in Alumni News and News

An Evening with Naismith and KU Libraries | www.kualumni.orgLast summer, the KU Alumni Association partnered with KU Libraries to take their presentation, “An Evening with Naismith: Artifacts of a KU Legend,” on the road to alumni in Denver, Houston, Dallas and St. Louis. It was so popular during the ‘Hawk Days of Summer that we’ve brought it back for another round.

This fall, Jayhawks in New York City and Washington D.C. enjoyed the presentation, and events were also held in Wichita and Salina. A Nov. 7 event in Overland Park sold out so quickly that we are working to schedule a second one.

In December, the KU Libraries and Alumni Association team will travel to the west coast to visit alumni chapters in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

Registration information can be found by clicking on the links below:

If you’re in one of these areas– or if you know fellow alumni or diehard KU basketball fans who might be interested– please consider joining us for a very special evening!

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West coast swing

Posted on Aug 8, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Danny Lewis, director of alumni programs, and Brad Eland, director of academic programs, are in the midst of a 11-day west coast swing visiting alumni and hosting events in California, Oregon and Washington.

Last weekend, they boarded a bus headed for the northern California wine country with 30 of their closest Jayhawk friends in San Francisco. It’s probably no surprise that this popular annual event sells out every year.

The day included stops at the Folie a Deux, V. Sattui, Sutter Home and Domaine Chandon wineries, where the KU group enjoyed tastings, tours and lunch before returning to the city.

Click here to see pictures from the event, or watch the slideshow below:

On Sunday, Danny and Brad hosted a reception for Los Angeles-area alumni, fans and friends at the King Harbor Yacht Club in Redondo Beach. Although the day was overcast, a great group of Jayhawks showed up to hear about happenings on the Hill.

It’s not all work and no play for our staff members though– chapter leader April Pitcairn, j’76, took Danny and Brad out on the water one day during their visit. (Click here for a picture.)

Photos from the Los Angeles reception are available here, or watch the slideshow below:

Other events on the west coast have included a reception in Phoenix and KU Night at Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, Calif. Tonight, Jayhawks in the Orange County area will gather for an event at Ocean Avenue Brewery, and the rest of the week’s activities include a wine tasting at Tagaris Winery in southeastern Washington, a reception in Portland and a picnic in Seattle at the home of Christine, d’96 and Tom Malchow.

If you live near any of these areas, please join us! And if you aren’t receiving our email invitations to events in your area, be sure to register on our website and make sure your alumni profile information is current.

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Travel Tales: West coast watch parties

Posted on Mar 27, 2013 in Alumni News and News

When KU Alumni Association staff members took the madness of March on the road last weekend for KU’s opening games of the NCAA Tournament, Mike Davis, senior vice president for alumni, student and membership programs, and his daughter Katie, a member of the KU class of 2014, headed west for California.

The San Francisco Bay ‘Hawks gather faithfully at The Pub, located near historic Ghirardelli Square with a great view of the bay. Alumni who know and love Kansas City barbecue might appreciate The Pub’s claim to fame as the best barbecue in the city.

Chapter leader Peter Curzon, c’08, b’08, hosted nearly one hundred Jayhawks at the watch party Friday night who celebrated KU’s win over Western Kentucky, including former KU quarterback Brian Luke, d’06.

On Saturday, Mike and Katie drove down PCH1 from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo. “We ran into a couple of KU alumni at a gas station in Cambria and had a spirited discussion about how the Jayhawks had played the night before,” Mike says. They enjoyed dinner with Jerry, b’81, and Lenor Skillett in Altadena.

Sunday morning was a beautiful day in Los Angeles–unlike Lawrence, where it continued to snow. Mike and Katie joined chapter leader Maria Skeels, c’97, j’01, and more than 200 Los Angeles Jayhawks at their official watch site, the Parlor in Hollywood. Among the Jayhawks watching KU defeat North Carolina for the third time in five years was famous funnyman Rob Riggle, c’93, and Kansas native, diehard Jayhawk fan and professional boxer Victor Ortiz, a WBC welterweight champion and current contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

As much as we’d like to claim Captain Jack Sparrow as an alumnus of KU, unfortunately he is not.

Mike Davis and Jack Sparrow | www.kualumni.orgMike Davis and Victor Ortiz at the Parlor Hollywood | www.kualumni.org

For more photos from chapter watch parties, check out our Flickr slideshow.

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Rock Chalk Kansas City

Posted on Mar 23, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Big Jay and Baby Jay 'Hawks 'n Hoops via www.kualumni.org

Pregame and pep rally information

The KU men’s basketball team takes on North Carolina on Sunday, Mar. 24. Jayhawk fans and alumni have one more opportunity to fill Kansas City with crimson and blue!

Join us in the Power & Light District across the street from the Sprint Center for a pregame party and pep rally. KU fans should be very familiar with this area after spending two basketball-filled weekends here. The pregame party at Z-Strike will start at 1 p.m. on Sunday, followed by a KU pep rally on the main stage at 2:30 p.m.

The KU vs. North Carolina game tips off at 4:15 p.m.

If you’re a member of the Alumni Association, don’t forget your membership card. Show it to the staff members at our table at Z-Strike and pick up your free, members-only gift. If you don’t have your card handy, just pull up a copy of a recent email from the Alumni Association that shows your membership status at the bottom.

Not in Kansas City? We’re taking the madness of March on the road!

Join staff members Mike Davis, Kelsey Hill, Brad Eland, Teri Harris, Danny Lewis and Dan Storey at official KU Alumni Association watch parties in major cities across the country. If you’re in Los Angeles, Denver, Minneapolis, Houston or New York City, we want to meet you! Click here to view our calendar of events to get details for each location.

Bring your membership card to these events for your free gift.

Find fellow Jayhawks

If you want to watch the game with other KU alumni and fans, check out our list of official KU Alumni Association watch sites around the country. We also have a lot of geographic-based Facebook groups, so you’re sure to find other Jayhawks in your area. Click here to find a list of Facebook groups.

We’d love to see your pictures from watch parties! Email them to share@kualumni, tweet them to us (@kualumni) or post them on our Facebook page. Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!

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True love at a KU basketball watch party

Posted on Mar 22, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Matt Dandurand says it’s pretty much a miracle that he met his wife, Kristen, 1,500 miles away from their home state of Kansas in Los Angeles, a little city of 12 million people.

Thank goodness for Kansas basketball.

Kristen Bloom, c’01, PharmD’08, a self-professed KU basketball addict, grew up watching every game and driving back and forth from Wichita to Allen Fieldhouse. She even used to memorize the height, weight and numbers of all the players and collected their basketball cards and posters.

Kristen was completing her final month of rotations for KU School of Pharmacy in 2008, and she was in Los Angeles for four weeks for an externship. She contacted the Los Angeles alumni chapter’s president, Maria Skeels, c’97, g’01, to find out where she could watch KU’s Final Four game with fellow Jayhawks.

The watch site for Jayhawks was El Guapo (now called The Parlor). The place was packed because UCLA played Memphis before the KU vs. North Carolina game. Kristen asked a group if she could share their table, and she ended up sitting next to Matt.

Matt actually didn’t attend KU. In fact, he says he’s the black sheep of his family because of it. His father and younger brother both hold pharmacy degrees from KU; his sister and brother-in-law both earned law degrees from KU; and his mother attended classes for a few years.

Matt moved to L.A. with a friend who graduated from KU and has met many other Jayhawks while attending watch parties at El Guapo and The Parlor. “I more or less feel like an honorary alumnus because it’s in my blood and half my friends out here went to KU,” he says.

Fate intervenes
Bloom-Dandurand wedding photoKristen struck up a conversation with Matt and quickly discovered a connection: she had grown up visiting Dandurand Drug Store in Wichita, which is owned by Matt’s father.

They didn’t talk much during the game, but after it was over and everyone was celebrating, he asked for her phone number. Later, he called to ask if he could take her to the watch party for the championship game against Memphis. “I had a great time and figured he was some sort of good luck charm,” Kristen says.

Kristen and Matt spent time together through the end of April. On the last day of her externship, Kristen was offered a job at the hospital in L.A. She had already accepted another position back home in Wichita, and although she likes to say she didn’t make the decision to move to L.A. based on Matt, she now realizes that he probably tipped the scales in favor of L.A.

After two months of discussing her options with friends and family, Kristen took the job in Los Angeles.

Kristen and Matt have been married for 18 months, and they have a baby Jayhawk on the way. They still attend as many alumni gatherings as possible and can’t wait to attend a game in Allen Fieldhouse together.

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Back to Kansas City

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 in Alumni News and News

The Jayhawks are headed back to Kansas City!

Big Jay dances at a KU pep rally in Kansas City | via www.kualumni.orgThe KU men’s basketball team earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s South Region, and lucky for us (and them!) it means they’ll play in Kansas City’s Sprint Center– where they won the Big 12 Championship last weekend.

The ‘Hawks will take on the No. 16 seeded Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at 8:50 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 22.

Z-Strike will once again serve as the headquarters for Jayhawk fans, with a pregame party starting at 3 p.m. on Friday. The Alumni Association, Kansas Athletics and KUStore.com will be set up here with giveaways and KU gear available for purchase.

The KU pep band, spirit squad and mascots will take center stage at the pep rally at 5:15 p.m., though Big Jay likely won’t be sporting the adidas “camo” shorts this time.

If you’re a member of the Alumni Association, don’t forget your membership card! Show it at our table and you’ll receive a free, members-only gift.

We’re bringing March Madness to you!

This year, the Alumni Association is taking March Madness on the road. Staff members will host watch parties in eleven different cities on Friday and, should KU advance, on Sunday.

On Friday night, staff members will be in Washington, D.C. (The Bottom Line); Chicago (Lottie’s Pub); San Francisco (The Pub); Colorado Springs (Fox and Hound); Dallas (Park Tavern) and Wichita (Larry Bud’s).

If KU wins on Friday, staff will attend watch parties in New York City (Cornerstone Tavern); Minneapolis (Tiffany Sports Lounge); Los Angeles (The Parlor); Denver (Stoney’s); Houston (Coaches Midtown) and Wichita (Larry Bud’s).

Members can show their cards at the staff-hosted watch parties and receive a free gift.

If you’re near any of these cities, we’d love to meet you! And if you’re not, click here to find a list of official Alumni Association watch sites around the country.

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Posted on Feb 13, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Meg from Paperman, short from  © Disney | www.kualumni.org

If you’re sweet on KU, have we got a treat for you!

Paperman, the Oscar-nominated short from Disney Animation Studios, stars a Jayhawk, Kari Wahlgren, c’99. The critically acclaimed short first appeared in theaters with Disney’s Wreck-it-Ralph and has been charming audiences ever since with the sweet tale of a chance encounter between George (animator and director John Kahrs) and Meg (Wahlgren), set in 1950’s-era Manhattan. Fate—and a few hundred paper airplanes—intervene to bring the happy couple together in this gem that’s just perfect for Valentine’s Day.

We caught up this week with Wahlgren, whose list of credits include theatrical and voice work in film and television, including appearances in Criminal Minds, Wizards of Waverly Place, numerous commercials and voice roles for Disney, Nickelodeon, HBO and Dreamworks. Reflecting on a career that has included everything from Shakespeare to Shrek (III), Wahlgren shared some advice for KU students looking to get into the business, and she talked about the thrill of working on Paperman. Our questions (in bold) and her answers appear below:


Kari Wahlgren | www.kualumni.orgWhat was it like to be involved with an Oscar-nominated short like Paperman?
When I went to Disney to work on Paperman, they showed me the short before we went in the recording studio. It’s the only time I’ve ever broken down in tears in front of clients! I was pretty embarrassed, but I think everyone in the room knew they had something special there.

How were you chosen for the part?
Disney requested me for the role, which was nice. I’d done a lot of voice work for them on ‘BOLT’ and ‘Tangled,’ and they thought of me when they needed someone for Paperman.

What did your involvement entail?
I did one recording session for Paperman, and it was pretty short—less than 30 minutes! Since the film is mostly silent, they just wanted some vocal ‘ambiance’ that they could experiment with. We played with lots of different vocal reactions in the session: snorts, gasps, breaths… I think one chuckle made it into the final mix. I’m actually glad they kept it mostly silent—I think it makes the short even more powerful that way.

How did you find out the short was nominated, and how did you react?
Someone told me that Paperman had been nominated for an Oscar on Twitter… gotta love social networking! I was thrilled—it’s a lovely film… the nomination was well-deserved!

Given your career in the industry, where does the experience rank among your other favorite roles?
I think this experience reminds me that you can still be surprised in your career. It was a very short day of work, but people have been so affected by the film, and I’ve received a lot of wonderful messages about it. It makes me feel really proud to have been a small part of the whole experience.

Meg from Paperman, short from  © Disney | www.kualumni.orgWhat are your fondest memories of KU and Kansas?
I loved my entire experience at KU—I’m really proud to be an alumna! Loved the Theatre department—I sponsor a small scholarship in the department now—loved going to basketball games, walking the campus… I still go back and visit when I can.

Do you stay connected with Jayhawks in California?
Yes, there is a really active branch of Jayhawks out here in Los Angeles… I even ended up working on a TV show with another alumnus recently! Every time I wear my KU ball cap, someone somewhere says hello!

What advice do you have for KU students looking to get into the biz?
For KU students looking to get into the biz, first of all: be proud of where you go to school! It’s not a disadvantage—there are Jayhawks working in every aspect of the business, and the skills and work ethic you learn at KU can take you really far out here! Networking is important… and always try to grow and improve in your craft. Enjoy the process!


Without further ado, enjoy this trailer for Disney’s Oscar-nominated animated short Paperman:

Thanks to Matt Friedrichs, c’96, g’00, for the tip. Have a story to share with us? Email us at share@kualumni.org.

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Keeping up with Kevin: Tales from Southern California

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Kevin Corbett, president of the KU Alumni Association, recently spent a couple days in southern California meeting with students and alumni– including famous funnyman Rob Riggle, c’93. He also enjoyed unexpected encounters with other fans and alumni, proving that Jayhawks really are everywhere.

I was in Los Angeles to help KU’s Office of Admissions with a “Home for the Holidays” recruitment event held at Dana, b’56, and Sue Anderson’s home. The Andersons’ granddaughter Amy will attend KU in fall 2013. Seventy two people attended the event: 25 high school students, 35 guests/parents, 5 current KU students from the L.A. area who were home for winter break and seven alumni.

A similar event was also held in Austin that same day at the home of Lori, b’92, and Mark Piening. Lori is a member of the Alumni Association’s national board of directors.

img_robriggle_conanDuring the trip, I called on donors to the Alumni Association and checked to see if Rob had time for lunch. He responded by inviting me to be his guest Monday night at the Conan O’Brien Show.

When I entered the Warner Brothers studio, I immediately saw a young man with a hooded KU sweatshirt on. I said “Rock Chalk!” and introduced myself to him– and discovered that the gentleman was Chris Frederick, c’10, son of the late KU athletics director Bob Frederick and Margey Frederick! Chris works for Rob in Los Angeles and travels the country with the Riggles.

Also on the show that night was singer Chris Mann, who finished fourth in the 2012 The Voice competition. I noticed that he was originally from Wichita so of course I had to introduce myself. Although Chris attended Vanderbilt University, he loves the Jayhawks! In fact, he will be singing the national anthem at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 16 when KU takes on Texas. I invited Chris and his family to our Presidents Club pregame event that day.

I spent most of the show in the green room visiting with Rob and his lovely wife Tiffany, who is a Topeka native and Kansas State graduate.

I didn’t get to meet Conan, but the show was a nice way to end a busy two days in SoCal. By the way, the 24-mile drive from Burbank back to the airport hotel took an hour and twenty minutes. At least it was dark, I had a small rental car and I had no idea where the GPS was taking me. Blind faith!

Stay tuned for more stories from Kevin as he meets with KU alumni, fans, friends and students across the country.

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