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The Energizing Gift of Alumni Success

April 9, 2018

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 4 seconds.

Dear students, staff, and faculty:

Strategists, engineers, writers, performers, coders, creators, artists, thinkers, builders, architects, explorers, problem solvers, inventors, business people, planners, educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, visionaries.



Diplomat, CEO and KU alumnus was honored by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in fall 2017

Diplomat, CEO and KU alumnus Delano Lewis
Brian Goodman Photography

At this time of year we joyously celebrate our newest assembly of graduates and wish them well in their personal and professional journeys. And then something powerful happens. Our new alumni apply what they’ve learned here, add more knowledge along the way, and, given a little more time and some hard work, emerge as leaders.

Our alumni give so much of their time, treasure, and talent to the University of Kansas that it is truly uplifting. One intangible gift they offer, specifically for KU students, is inspiration. These Jayhawks combined their knowledge, experiences, and KU connections and then fashioned them into remarkable success.

Throughout the year, the schools and the College make a point to recognize a handful of alumni who are shaping their workplace, their fields, their communities, and society. On Friday night, the School of Pharmacy recognized alumnus Joe Courtright, CEO of USA Drug, now part of Walgreens. This weekend the School of Law presented its top alumni honor to three graduates, Judge Karen Arnold-Burger chief judge of the Kansas Court of Appeals; John Bowman, partner with King & Spalding LLP; and William “Brad” Bradley Jr., founder of NIC Inc. In September, the College feted diplomat and executive Delano Lewis, and the School of Architecture and Design announced three recipients of its inaugural Distinguished Alumni Awards. In February, the School of Music delivered its first Outstanding Music Educator Award to Kelli Baker during a statewide music educators workshop. In the coming days, the School of Business and the School of Engineering will announce honors for some of their luminaries; the School of Education will honor alumna and Superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas, School District Cynthia Lane with KU’s Friend of Education Award; and the School of Social Welfare will recognize excellent field instructors, many of whom are program alumni, with the annual Margo Award.

The recognition of our Jayhawks isn’t limited to academic units. Achievements come from near and far. Music alumnus and organist Brian Mathias was recently selected to join one of the nation’s biggest gigs, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Over the past year, two of our alumni, Diane Yetter and Terry Putney, were named among Accounting Today’s 2017 “100 Most Influential People in Accounting.” Closer to home, the KU Alumni Association presented its 2017 Fred Ellsworth Medallion to College alumnus John Mize and B-School alumnus John B. Dicus, who, incidentally, is now the first third-generation recipient of the award. In October the Black Alumni Network of the KU Alumni Association celebrated nine alumni — including Associate Dean of Engineering Andrew Williams and Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Reggie Robinson — with the Mike and Joyce Shinn Leaders and Innovators Award. Our institution-wide pinnacle, KU’s Honorary Degree, is regularly bestowed upon influencers, change leaders, and innovators, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos.

Students, the abundant success of our alumni tells us something valuable: It’s important to take calculated risks and seize the opportunities as they appear to us. Be bold as you embark on your careers. As faculty and staff, we’ve seen your potential firsthand. We know you’re destined to succeed. Promise me you’ll maintain connections to KU — social media can’t do it all. Make a point to really stay in touch with each other and this great institution. What you know matters. Who you know matters, too.

One day in the future, and sooner than you might think, you too will be an inspiration for a fresh generation of KU graduates. You have it in you to be a leader. We know because you’re already a Jayhawk.



News and Notes

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication has organized a number of free events over three days to celebrate the 150th birth year of its namesake, renowned journalist William Allen White. Events include a presentation by former White House photographer Pete Souza and a panel discussion on the future of journalism featuring journalists Bob Dotson, Gerald Seib and Paul Steiger.

In two and a half months KU goes tobacco free. The transition for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses — which goes into effect on July 1, 2018 — also includes restrictions on vaping and smokeless tobacco. Individuals who smoke will still be able to partake in their personal vehicles parked on campus. Learn more and connect to cessation resources at the Tobacco Free KU website.

The Self Graduate Fellowship will host a free public lecture by Brian Greene, physicist, mathematician and Columbia University professor, at 4:30 p.m., Friday, April 13, in the Burge Union. His talk “Big Science and the Future of Discovery” is the 2018 Symposium Lecture.

KU students who plan to travel internationally this summer for university sponsored activities or study should register through the Office of Study Abroad’s Student International Travel Registry. The registry helps ensure the university can proactively send health and safety information to students and enables to the university to provide timely communication and support in the event of a natural or political emergency in the region.

Been to the Burge yet? KU’s reimagined, redesigned, and reopened Burge Union has a variety of new features including convertible space that can handle very large conferences. Faculty and organizations who want to bring their meetings, large or small, to the KU Lawrence campus can also look to KU Conference Management to help manage the planning and promotional details.

KU Libraries are currently accepting applications for the 2018 Research Sprints. During this weeklong effort, May 14-18, faculty will work with a team of librarians to accomplish their research and instruction goals. Learn more and apply online. Application deadline is Friday, April 13.

The Chancellor’s Inaugural Research Symposium will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Thursday, April 19, at Regnier Hall on the Edwards Campus. It will feature TED Talks style presentations and a performance by the Kansas Jazzhawks. RSVP to this free event by sending your name to kuchancellor@ku.edu. The symposium is one of many events celebrating the inauguration of Chancellor Douglas Girod.

The annual Big Event is scheduled to take place April 14. Thousands of student, staff, and faculty volunteers will go out to job sites throughout the Lawrence community to offer service and complete a variety of neighborhood projects.

Students, whether you need advice, guidance, or help do not hesitate to contact your academic advisor, faculty and staff in your department, or even KU’s new Jayhawk Student One Stop office.

KU Sexual Assault Awareness Activism Month features a number of events throughout April, including an open house for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center’s new space in the Burge Union. The event runs from noon to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 27.  Activism Month continues throughout April.

Gaypril, a celebratory month that raises awareness and support for LGBTQIA+ communities, is underway. Activities hosted by the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity include free HIV testing, the annual Be You @ KU photo shoot at the campanile, Safe Zone training, film screenings, and more.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk,

Neeli Bendapudi

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

Follow me on Twitter at @KUProvostNeeli and the Provost Office at @KUProvost. Join the office on Facebook at /KUprovostoffice/. Join the office on Instagram at /KUprovost/.

This issue of Strong Ties as well as past ones can be found on the Provost Strong Ties web page25.

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