KU alumnus wins Nobel Peace Prize

Posted on Oct 7, 2016 in Alumni News and News

President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia on Friday was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at ending a civil war that has ravaged his country for more than 50 years. Although the peace accord Santos, a 1973 KU graduate with degrees in business and economics, negotiated with Colombian rebels was unexpectedly rejected by voters, the Norwegian Nobel Committee expressed hope that the award would encourage Colombians to continue their efforts at ending a civil war that killed more than 220,000 and displaced nearly 6 million.

Kansas Alumni via kualumni.org“The Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasizes the importance of the fact that President Santos is now inviting all parties to participate in a broad-based national dialogue aimed at advancing the peace process,” the Nobel Committee stated in a press release issued Oct. 7 from its Oslo, Norway, headquarters. “Even those who opposed the peace accord have welcomed such a dialogue. The Nobel Committee hopes that all parties will take their share of responsibility and participate constructively in the upcoming peace talks.”

Santos followed an older brother, Luis Fernando Santos, a 1970 graduate of KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, to KU, arriving on Mount Oread in 1969. As detailed in a cover story of Kansas Alumni magazine’s issue No. 3, 2011, Santos first lived in McCollum Hall, then joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity as a sophomore.

A motivated scholar—as well as a friendly fraternity brother who enjoyed beers at The Wagon Wheel Café, serenading sororities and participating in all-night nickel-dime-quarter poker games—Santos earned his KU degree in seven semesters, returned to Colombia, then left for London where he began his career as Colombia’s delegate to the International Coffee Organization. The KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences named Santos a distinguished alumnus in 2012.

“This great honor only adds to the immense pride KU alumni around the world have felt for their fellow Jayhawk since President Santos devoted himself to the cause of peace in Colombia,” said KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson. “This Nobel Peace Prize also brings honor to the long-established mission of University of Kansas faculty, administrators, students, staff and alumni to make our heartland campus a welcome home to students from around the world. Our international missions, as educators and alumni advocates, will continue with an energized pace thanks to President Santos, whom we are proud to call one of our own.”

Olav Njølstad, secretary of the Nobel Committee, on Friday said, “I just had a chance to talk with President Santos on the phone, and he was overwhelmed. He said immediately that this is ‘very, very, very important for my country and for the continuing peace process.’”

For continuing updates, follow KU Alumni Association social media outlets, and Alumni Association members will find complete coverage in issue No. 6 of Kansas Alumni magazine.

—Chris Lazzarino

Chancellor Gray-Little and President Santos via kualumni.org

Additional Resources

Illustration: Niklas Elmehed. Copyright: Nobel Media AB 2016
Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 via nobelprize.org

Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, Is Awarded Nobel Peace Prize via nytimes.com

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Awarded Nobel Peace Prize via npr.org

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences bestows highest honor on alumni via ku.edu

Jayhawks in Rio: Colombia connection via kualumni.org

Colombian president returns to the Hill via kualumni.org

The Gamble | Kansas Alumni magazine issue No. 3, 2011

Illustration: Niklas Elmehed. Copyright: Nobel Media AB 2016

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Thanks for the memories, McCollum

Posted on Nov 25, 2015 in Alumni News and News

McCollum Hall implosion

McCollum Hall, the largest residence hall at the University of Kansas, was demolished at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 25.

Built in 1965, 10-story McCollum Hall was originally designed with a capacity of 910 residents. With two new residence halls now facing Lewis and Hashinger halls, the McCollum site will be paved for much-needed parking.

Watch our video below to see interviews detailing the history of McCollum Hall and the future of Daisy Hill with Becky Schulte, University archivist; Jim Modig, University architect; and Curtis Marsh, director of KU Info.

We hope you enjoy our coverage of this historic event on the KU campus! Find more information at www.kualumni.org/mccollum.

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Down goes McCollum

Posted on Nov 25, 2015 in Alumni News and News

McCollum Hall

We compiled some of our favorite photos, videos and posts from Twitter and Instagram. We hope you enjoy it!

Jayhawks are preparing to say goodbye to McCollum Hall. The residence hall will be demolished Wednesday, Nov 25 and #kualumni has all the live, online coverage. Tune in at 8:30 a.m. CT to hear about McCollum’s past and watch the building tumble. http://bit.ly/KUmccollum #KUmccollum #aviewfromku

A post shared by KU Alumni Association (@kualumni) on

First time I laid eyes on Larry was in McCollum, our first kiss was in the 9E hallway 44 years ago. A special place. My window was 2nd floor from the top, 2nd window in. Great views from that window, you could keep track of the activity on Daisy Hill. #kumccollum #kualumni

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A post shared by Just Tinochka (@justinochka) on

11/25/2015 Na-na-na, goodbye. #KUMcCollum

A post shared by Valerie M. Woodard (@valeriemwoodard) on

Bye Bye McCollum Hall! So much history with his building! #BoomBoomBoom

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Before and After! #McCollumHall #RIP #lawrence

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50 years of history in 15 seconds! Goodbye McCollum hall ???????? #KUMcCollum

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North Side #McCollum Spectators, “We’ve made a huge mistake.” #KUmccollum

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#KU #KUmccollum comes down. #universityofkansas

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Remembering McCollum: Stories from alumni

Posted on Nov 24, 2015 in Alumni News and News

McCollum Hall rendering
We invited alumni to share their stories of McCollum Hall with us, some of which are included below. If you have a special memory of the residence hall, email us at share@kualumni.org. The residence hall will be demolished at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 25. Watch a livestream of the implosion, along with additional coverage, at www.kualumni.org/mccollum.

I lived in McCollum last year as a senior after years of living in Oliver. We always complained about how horrible it was to live in “McNasty”, but at the same time we enjoyed the camaraderie that came from that shared experience. RAs and floormates became family. I’ll never forget the time the power went out and I got stuck inside the elevator with three other people for thirty minutes. We might have panicked some, but it turned out to be a tiny adventure and we spent a good chunk of our “stuck” time cracking jokes.

You know you’re getting old when a building scheduled for demolition was built three years after you graduated from KU.
—Stan, class of 1962

I am very sad to hear of the implosion of McCollum hall, but understand the need. I was only in McCollum for one year (1986-87), but it was the best experience of my young adult life. I remain in contact with my last roommate, Leslie, as well as another hallmate, Chris. I have such fond memories of early morning breakfasts and those Thursday nights in the commons area watching Cosby and the whole lineup of great shows. We were on the 9th floor (west) and I remember on move-in and move-out days having to take the stairs all the way up and down. I remember typing up my last final paper while waiting for my laundry in the basement (I received an “A” – go figure; must have been the whirring of the dryers and fragrance of laundry soap).

One of my fondest memories was having chicken for dinner one evening and I was trying to dissect the chicken leg—I was taking human anatomy at the time and had a test coming up. I think I grossed everyone out. The best memory I have is the evening I met the man who would become my husband, Mark. Leslie was studying for a particularly hard pharmacy test and her boyfriend, Tom, stopped by with donuts from Joe’s Bakery and he brought Mark with him as a tag-along. I was immediately smitten. Mark and I have been married for over 25 years and we have 5 beautiful children. So, thanks McCollum, for all of the excellent memories from my last year on the KU-Lawrence campus!

I met my wife in McCollum in 1968. I still remember the first time I saw her. McCollum brought us together. Time moves on! Thanks McCollum for the memories!

One fun filled summer, I served as social co-chair for McCollum residents.I must first apologize for not crediting all of the residents who contributed to the activities that summer…must have been ’66. A hootenanny ranks as the most prominent event of the season. The beginning of Paul Gray’s Gaslight Gang entertained employing members of the KU band and included Skip DeVol on the banjo.

Seems one drunken evening I even recall a resident riding a skateboard along the ledge on the sixth floor…he was hammered.

Living long enough to witness the birth and demise of a concrete and steel structure like McCollum hall makes one wonder if anything temporal really lasts. Some things seem to never change and others don’t seem to when they desperately need to.

Thanks for the memories and lessons faculty and friends.

I lived in McCollum in 1988. I have many fond memories of that dorm. I lived on the 6th floor which that year had two men’s wings and one women’s. One night, the guy I was dating over imbibed and (probably on a dare) walked out onto the ledge of the 6th floor. He was safely brought back in. Rumors ran wild that we had broken up and he was going to jump. They were not true but everyone called him “Spiderman” after that.
—LS, class of ‘92

I was an RA there from 2003-2004 and one of the things I enjoyed the most was the peace and serenity of looking over Iowa street during the winters from my 6th floor room.

I also participated in JOE (Jayhawk Observation Eating study) and one of the requirements was that I had to occasionally get up super early in the mornings to have my breathing monitored. Thankfully another co-RA (Hannah) and I were both in the study so we both suffered the agony of early mornings.

One particularly cold morning, Hannah and I were both in the elevator when I noticed something felt very strange in my sock/shoe. As I took off my sock/shoe a massive roach flew out, landed on the floor, and scurried away. I was immediately horrified and started yelling because there is no way that I could be gross enough to house roaches in my room. The elevator doors opened and the desk staff was semi-startled/awakened by my yelling as I hurriedly hopped out of the elevator (I was struggling to put my sock and shoe back on) while Hannah was doubled over laughing.
—Natalie, class of ’04


One day I had a nap on my bed in the dorm. The door opened and my friend Scott said, “Got something for you….”

When I opened my eyes a snake looked at me in a funny way..It was perfectly harmless, but I didn’t know it. I freaked out and ran out of the room where Scott was taking a photo… He had done that with several snakes to various people.

When he entered my room to put the snake back into the box, it had disappeared along the pipes of the heating system into other rooms. That also happened in some more cases. There were screams coming out of various rooms for the rest of the evening. When people looked up they saw snakes crawling along the pipes of the heating system.

That was the day when McCollum came closest to a Stephen King movie.
—Harald, class of ’74

I lead community walks on Saturday mornings in my community of Pleasanton, California. A couple years ago, a new Walk Star wanted us to see her quaint town nearby, and she volunteered to lead us on the adventure walk. I joined the walk that morning not having been involved in the planning. As she led the group, I introduced myself. Within 100 yards, we discovered that not only had we been at KU at the same time—we had lived in McCollum Hall at the same time.

I moved in during the opening year, and she transferred in her sophomore year, 1966. She also knew my longtime friend, Bill. A small world that started at McCollum Hall ended with us becoming walking friends in California, 46 years later.
—Ron, e’69

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Study, think—and sleep well, men

Posted on Nov 20, 2015 in Alumni News and News

This article originally appeared in Kansas Alumni magazine, Vol. 64, No. 4, Dec. 1965-Jan. 1966. The magazine was published nine times per year, monthly except for combined issues of December/January, March/April, and July/August. Dick Wintermote, c’51, served as executive secretary-editor. At the time, membership in the Alumni Association was $6 per year, and a Life membership was $100.

McCollum Hall under construction | Kansas Alumni magazine, November 1964

If a full moon was shining brightly in a clear sky, the thrifty city fathers of turn-of-the-century Lawrence considered burning the gas street lamps a waste of fuel. But if the night was dark, a couple of KU students set out on their rounds lighting the lamps.

When the lamps were lit, the young men got some sleep; at midnight, they were up again, retracing their steps to turn off the lights.

Then one of the pair would head for the offices of the Lawrence World, where he earned more money for his college expenses by counting out newspapers for the delivery boys and then covering a route himself. Sometimes he could get a little more sleep by curling up on a stack of old newspapers in a storeroom at the printing shop while he waited for the papers to come off the press.

But the pace was tough, and often the young man fell asleep in his classes. He always felt that his having to work so much in order to meet expenses cheated him out of much of his education.

So it was that years later, he—Elmer McCollum, c’03, g’04—started a student loan fund with money awarded to him in honor of his great contributions to the study of nutrition—a fund Dr. McCollum has added to over the years.

“Self-financing,” he says, “has always meant too much physical work and too much loss of sleep to the detriment of education. That is the reason why I wanted, and still want, to provide an opportunity for a few young people in order to spare them the waste of time, strength, and rest by making it possible for them to pay for their education after their earning capacity is more favorable.”

Throughout his life, Dr. McCollum has shown the passion for learning that drove the young student lamplighter. He also has shown a compassion for those who learn—not only as a philanthropist, but also as a teacher, counselor, and friend.

So it was characteristic that when he learned the Kansas Board of Regents had decided to name the University’s newest and largest residence hall in honor of him and his brother, the late Burton McCollum, e’03, Dr. McCollum interpreted the news in terms of his love for learning and those who learn.

“Nothing could honor us more,” he said, “than that a few young men, armed with intelligence and insight, guided by a narrow and positive purpose, and with a meditative element in their minds, might think constructively in the shelter of McCollum Hall.”

Dr. Elmer McCollum, c'03, g'04, and Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe  | Kansas Alumni magazine, Dec. 1965-Jan. 1966And when he came back to Mount Oread for the dedication of McCollum Hall in October, Dr. McCollum saw the building and its inhabitants less as a residence hall filled with 1,100 high-spirited young men than as an academic building filled with students.

“The organization of the men on individual floors of McCollum and their objectives of broadening horizons through sharing ideas, cultivating character, and discussion of important problems and issues significant for the future of mankind arouses my admiration,” he commented.

Of course, neither Dr. McCollum nor anyone else pictures the men of McCollum as always plugging away doggedly at their homework or huddling in earnest discussion of weighty world problems. The hall’s biweekly newspaper, The Tartan (which one of its editors has described as “the Kansan’s biggest little brother), evinces the healthy, if somewhat more frivolous, interests of young males in things other than academic pursuits.

The paper’s “flag,” for instance, is adorned with a sketch of a shapely young lady in form-fitting blouse, skater’s length skirt, and knee sox. A regular feature treats the reader to a series of cheesecake photos of a campus beauty (photos decorous enough they would cause not a trace of consternation in the dean of women’s office). And another feature indulges in lighthearted nonsense in a style reminiscent of Max Shulman’s Barefoot Boy With Cheek.

Nevertheless, the men of McCollum have done a remarkable job of organizing their hall in ways calculated to minimize the potential impersonality of its bigness on one hand, and on the other hand to take advantage of the diversity its bigness offers.

Organization began long before the men moved into McCollum, when the men of Ellsworth Hall learned they would move to the new hall. The president and vice-president of Ellsworth and the president and vice-president of the Association of University Residence Halls (A.U.R.H.) constituted a select committee to lay the groundwork.

This committee discussed alternative plans of hall government and the ways in which the established spirit of Ellsworth could be preserved while a distinct pioneering enthusiasm was built for McCollum. The group drafted an outline for a new system of hall government and plans for the transition from Ellsworth to McCollum.

Working from the committee’s plans, the men of Ellsworth wrote and ratified a new constitution for McCollum and elected a full list of officers. To the new officers fell the job of working with the University administration to plan for the dedication of the new hall and for the activities which would acquaint the hall’s residents with their new home and build the feeling of a well-knit living group.

When McCollum’s doors were opened in September, the officers were ready with an orientation program and a full schedule of social activities and other events  designed to make the men feel at home and to encourage them to take part in the hall’s programs.

The planning groups already had done a great deal to determine the atmosphere of the new residence hall. In addition to making plans for the government and for the fall activities, they had begun to work on the “image” of McCollum. The Scottish ancestry of the McCollum brothers, as well as the “highland” site of the hall, gave a natural framework for the image.

With the help of experts on Scottish heraldry, hall officers found the crest and tartan of the McCollum clan and adopted them as official symbols of the “clan” living in McCollum Hall. The hall’s paper was named The Tartan (and its pinup section was called “McCollum’s Lass”). And although the young men of the hall have not yet taken to wearing kilts, there is evidence that they are adopting the fierce loyalty and pride of a Highland clan.

The men take a more personal pride in the distinction given to the name McCollum by the two brothers after whom the hall is named: Elmer McCollum, discoverer of vitamins A and D, pioneer in the discovery of the nutritional importance of the B complex vitamins and the trace elements, the man who has undoubtedly done more than any other to change man’s eating habits; and Burton McCollum, dedicated earth scientist who first developed seismographic methods for oil exploration and invented and patented more than 30 devices for geological exploration.

The McCollum brothers are probably the most outstanding men ever graduated from KU, and undoubtedly the most outstanding pair of brothers. Though a university residence hall cannot hope to achieve a comparable distinction and few if any of the hall’s residents can look forward to such distinguished careers, the hall’s leaders are determined that McCollum will do credit to the name it honors.

“We who have met and talked with Dr. and Mrs. McCollum feel even more deeply the pride and significance of the name we bear,” said hall resident Bill Robinson, vice-president of the student body, after the dedication of McCollum Hall.

Elmer McCollum and the hall leaders at least share one hope for the hall: that the experience of living there will be a strong character-building force for the men of McCollum.

McCollum Hall dedication ceremony | Kansas Alumni magazine, Dec. 1965-Jan. 1966


Top: McCollum Hall under construction. Published in Kansas Alumni magazine, November 1964.

Middle: Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe bends to greet Elmer McCollum at dedication ceremonies for McCollum Hall. Published in Kansas Alumni magazine, Dec. 1965-Jan. 1966.

Bottom: Members of a standing-room-only crowd listen to Dr. McCollum as he speaks from the platform set up in front of McCollum Hall. Published in Kansas Alumni magazine, Dec. 1965-Jan. 1966. 

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So who’s bringing the popcorn?

Posted on Nov 9, 2015 in Alumni News and News

McCollum Hall, photo by Steve Puppe
The long-anticipated implosion of McCollum Hall, set for 9 a.m. on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, might best be viewed from the parking lot behind Oliver Hall—but plan to make your way to 19th and Naismith plenty early, because street closures beginning at about 8:30 a.m. will surely snarl traffic. If you’re not in Lawrence for the Big Bang, stay tuned to all KU Alumni Association social media outlets, the news blog at kualumni.org and the January issue of Kansas Alumni magazine for complete coverage. A livestream of the event will be available at www.kualumni.org/mccollum.

In order to create a 600-foot safety zone, Iowa Street will be closed from 15th to 21st streets and westbound 19th Street will be closed from Naismith Drive to Constant Avenue on West Campus. The intersection at 15th Street and Engel Road—the northern access point to Daisy Hill—will also close, barricades will restrict access around West Campus, and the Irving Hill bridge will be closed. Officials anticipate that all road closures will be removed by 10 a.m.

The designated public viewing area is behind Oliver Hall, although there are no scheduled activities for that site—other than a chance to join the group’s gasps, cheers and tears as McCollum Hall tumbles in on itself.

KU officials advise that the implosion will demolish McCollum in a matter of seconds, but the ensuing dust cloud will likely linger in the atmosphere for up to 15 minutes, so those with respiratory ailments are cautioned to take appropriate precautions.

Built in 1965, 10-story McCollum Hall will was originally designed with a capacity of 910 residents. With two new residence halls now facing Lewis and Hashinger halls, the McCollum site will be paved for much-needed parking.

McCollum’s furniture and interior accessories were removed and re-used, metal materials are being recycled, and concrete and masonry will be crushed and used as gravel fill for campus construction projects.

—Chris Lazzarino

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How living in McCollum Hall changed the course of my life

Posted on Oct 15, 2015 in Alumni News and News

McCollum Hall, photo by Steve Puppe
This article was submitted by Mike Starkweather, c’67,  one of the first residents to live in McCollum Hall after it opened. Read more of Mike’s memories of McCollum Hall here. Do you have stories of life in the residence hall to share with alumni? Email us at share@kualumni.org. Photos are welcome, too!

Working as a resident assistant at McCollum Hall also meant attending staff meetings. At one particular meeting in April 1967, something happened that changed the course of my professional career. It had nothing to do with the content of the meeting, but what several of us did while the meeting was going on.

We always looked in our mailboxes, located across from the meeting room, before going into the room, just in case there was something besides the meeting agenda that needed our attention.

One day our mailboxes held a recruitment booklet from the United States Peace Corps advertising for participants in some of the first programs going to the South Pacific—specifically Western Samoa, the Kingdom of Tonga and Fiji. The meeting wasn’t particularly captivating (sorry, Dean), and by the time it was over, several of us had completed the multi-page, in-depth Peace Corps application. We asked each other, “What shall we do with them?”

The answer was simple: We sealed the self-addressed, postage-paid envelopes, and dropped them in the mail box and forgot about them.

In June telegrams from the Peace Corps arrived, inviting us to training in Hawaii. After three months of training, I headed off to the Kingdom of Tonga while a fellow staff member went to Fiji. It turned out to be the single most life-changing event for me. After participating in the Peace Corps, I directed Peace Corps training in the South Pacific, earned a master of arts degree from the University of Hawaii, and lived and worked in education and international development in Hawaii for thirty years.

I returned to the mainland and continued working in international development, switching my interests from Asia and the Pacific to Africa. My resume now reads “lived and worked in 42 countries on five continents.” Not bad for a kid from Wichita.

Two years ago our Peace Corps crew from Tonga celebrated the 40th anniversary of our arrival there. Forty of the 57 of us who completed the program talked about the collective 1,600 years of experience among us. There’s something we all share: Don’t be satisfied with the things you’ve done. Keep looking for something new and different to accomplish. Basically, what do you want to do when you grow up?

And those are the minutes of a staff meeting in McCollum Hall, April 1967.  Do I have a second for the approval of these minutes?

—Mike Starkweather, c ‘67, proud Life Member

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Former McCollum resident shares stories from hall’s early years

Posted on Oct 9, 2015 in Alumni News and News

McCollum Hall, photo by Steve Puppe
This article was submitted by Mike Starkweather, c’67, an early resident of McCollum Hall. Do you have stories of life in the residence hall to share with alumni? Email us at share@kualumni.org. Photos are welcome, too! Read more of Mike’s memories of McCollum Hall here.

Ah, McCollum Hall. Being one of the first residents to move in during the fall of ’66 was historic enough, but who knew what was yet to come?

McCollum was the first residence hall on campus to allow men and women to live in the same building. Even though they were separated by the “iron curtain” dividing the floor in the lounges, you don’t really think that stopped them from mingling, do you?

As McCollum residents, we wasted no time making a name for ourselves. We joined Alpha Omicron Pi sorority to become the first independent living organization to participate in Rock Chalk Revue. It was a big deal to take part in the iconic event. Having been the lead actor in the skit, “Where There’s a Will There’s a Play,” I appreciate the hard work, long hours and dedication of the many people that make Rock Chalk Revue happen. At the time, the sole beneficiary was the KU YMCA.

Today, Rock Chalk Revue serves the entire Lawrence community—congratulations on making this happen. I truly appreciate the annual invitation extended to Rock Chalk Revue alumni to return to the Hill and continue to be part of this long-standing tradition. It’s on my bucket list.

Drive-by movies
Serving as a resident assistant at McCollum, I was privy to many events not found in the pages of the University Daily Kansan.

One hysterical event that may have led to serious car insurance issues comes to mind. One night while I was working in the office, the phone rang. The caller was Dean Fred McElhenie. He said, “Mike, we have a situation I need you to check out. To confirm it, please look out the window and tell me what you see on the south end of Ellsworth Hall.” He asked me to defuse the situation and let him know what transpired.

I went outside and looked up to the eighth floor, taking note of where a particular blue-tinged light appeared. I ventured to the eighth floor, knocked and entered the room full of male residents looking out the window at the facing wall of Ellsworth. The blue-tinged light belonged to a slide projector that was showing a cavalcade review of Playboy Playmates of the Month on the blank wall of Ellsworth—in three-story dimensions.

Given the proximity of the wall to the adjacent highway, traffic had definitely slowed down in the area. Fortunately, no brakes were squealing, but the review was not going unnoticed by residents, drivers and pedestrians in the area. I asked the men to aim the projector onto their own wall. The auto insurance companies should appreciate not having to pay claims for inattentive driving and bumper damage.

Other incidents from McCollum Hall rival this one, but they’ll remain under wraps to protect the guilty.

—Mike Starkweather, c ‘67, proud Life Member

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Saying Goodbye to McCollum Hall

Posted on Jun 17, 2015 in Alumni News and News

This ode to McCollum Hall, written by KU student and former McCollum resident Chloe Voth, was originally published on The Odyssey and is reprinted here with permission. The residence hall will be demolished at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 25. Watch a livestream of the implosion, along with additional coverage, at www.kualumni.org/mccollum

McCollum Hall, photo by Steve Puppe
The campus skyline in Lawrence is about to change. The largest residence hall at the University of Kansas is going to be torn down. And while most students will be delighted to see the mold-infested dorm go, there are some of us who might shed a tear or two—specifically, the many lucky ones, including me, who were the last year of McCollum survivors!

I remember move-in day and being disgusted by the idea of sharing a bathroom with 30 other girls, trying to decide where I would put all my clothes with such little closet space and always having that slight fear that I would forget my key and get locked out on a regular basis. That first night on the small twin bed I contemplated my decision of staying in the dorm. There was no way I could survive this for another nine months when one night was already rough enough!

However, the next week that followed was a little less awful. Although I was disappointed that none of the boys on our floor were very attractive and annoyed that our dorm was the furthest from campus (so walking to class meant you had to make it an extra 20 yards without dying of heatstroke). But I decided to make the best of it by decorating and turning those cinder block walls into a room that felt like home as much as possible.

A ton changed in the next few weeks of freshman year. I finally got used to the weak water pressure of the showers and having to drag my dirty clothes through the lobby, into the elevator, all the way to the basement just to do laundry. But the best thing was that I finally talked to some of those weird boys in the other wing … and the dorm didn’t feel so awful after that. It became the location to many of the memories made:

  • Like having to wake up at 5 a.m. to go camp in line for the basketball games. I got to spend a half-hour banging on everyone’s door trying to get them up in time before having to walk down to the Fieldhouse (which always felt like miles away when it was still dark and freezing out). It took continuous knocking, but everyone eventually strolled into the lobby sporting their best hobo outfit and “I haven’t had coffee yet, so don’t talk to me” facial expression.
  • Or when we realized each room was a three digit number and we lived on the sixth floor, so naturally we wanted to find the room numbered 666. So we walked through each wing until we found that they did indeed skip over that satanic number.
  • By far the most unusual thing to happen was when I got up on a Sunday morning after a late Saturday night and heard that a certain sink in a certain boys’ wing was no longer working … probably because it was no longer attached to the wall. It was the conversation for the next few days and still remains as one of the legendary weekends of freshman year.
  • And let’s not forget that one fateful night, when we were up past the RA’s personal bedtime (9 p.m. on a Saturday night), and we all got written up … every single one of us.

I know that next year we will mistakenly find ourselves stumbling walking back to the end of Daisy Hill after a Friday night at the Hawk, only to be confused as to why our entire dorm building is missing.

At the start of the year I tried to cover up every inch of the white washed walls that surrounded me because I did not think this place could ever feel like home. And now that our first year at college has come to a close, I’m struggling to find the heart to tear everything down. Watching everyone else take their flags, pictures and posters off the walls, it’s beginning to hit me that this is all too real. We are no longer freshman. And this will no longer be my room where I swap crazy weekend stories with my roommate, spend five seconds trying to pick out a dress before hopping on safe bus or cry over my essay that just won’t write itself. I am slowly watching McCollum look exactly as it did that first day I walked in: empty. Only this time is different. I’m not stressing about finding the right lecture hall in the maze of a building, I’m not trying to figure out the best time to go eat a meal or worrying about which sorority to join and who I’ll make friends with. I’m stressing about finals and grades, I’m dying of hunger because cafeteria food is gross, and worst of all, I’m crying because for the next few months I have to leave all of my favorite people that I’ve met over the course of the year.

Growing up in northeast Kansas, KU is a popular choice for college partially because it is so close to home. That meant weekend trips to see my puppies, do free laundry and have delicious home-cooked meals were a monthly thing. Although I found myself telling my family how I needed to head back “home” on Sunday evenings. Lawrence slowly morphed into the place where I felt most at home. It is where I spent endless hours simply hanging out with the collective group of people that make up my college family. 1800 Engel Road.

I just wanted to say one last goodbye to McCollum Hall. Thank you for being my first home away from home. But now I realize how much easier it is to say goodbye to the building than it is the people in it, because they are the ones that really made this crazy dorm feel like home after all.

—Chloe Voth

Originally published on The Odyssey

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