Page 1


spring 2017




Dean Speak: Investing in our future


Campus Briefs: News from around the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, including new programs, research highlights, faculty and student honors, and new faculty


Cover Story: Constructive Development: ‘Collaborative collisions’ at heart of new facilities for teaching, research


Alumni Briefs: Hawks to Watch show diversity of alumni careers; grads take over social media to show a day in their life; distinguished alumnus wins Nobel Prize; Pluto discovery gets stamp of approval


Giving Back: Generosity helps students, university thrive


Oread Encore: Alumnus puts experience as veteran to use to help others

KU Collegian is published for alumni and friends of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. CONTACT: Strong Hall 1450 Jayhawk Boulevard Room 200 Lawrence, KS 66045-7535 /////////////////////////////////// P: 785.864.3661 F: 785.864.5331 ///////////////////////////////////

EDITOR: Kristi Henderson, ’03


DESIGN: Susan Geiger, ‘98

CONTRIBUTORS: Heather Anderson, ’08, Alex Folsom, ’12, KU Endowment, KU Marketing Communications, KU News Service, KU Office of Public Affairs, University Archives



Landscape for learning

Dean Carl Lejuez left the College’s mark, literally, on the new Integrated Science Building, signing the final beam to be placed during a special “topping-out” ceremony this fall.

If you haven’t been to campus lately, you will be in for a surprise the next time you visit. Several new building and renovation projects are changing the landscape for learning, with new or enhanced classroom and lab space. At the same time, we’re expanding the heart of campus westward. For example, where once stood the Burge Union and Stouffer Place apartments will soon be a state-of-the-art science building and new union. Our cover story, “Constructive Development,” shares more detail on current projects and how they will benefit the learning and research experience of our students and faculty. Other ways we’re improving the landscape for learning are less visible than facilities projects but no less important in our quest to be a leading student-centered, inclusive, research intensive College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. This edition of our magazine is filled with highlights that demonstrate our progress in key areas. You’ll also read about our mentoring program and new Winter Session. When it comes to student success, one of our guiding principles is to engage students in ways that support their needs and maintain academic rigor. With many demands on students’ time, we are implementing opportunities to help them better balance their coursework and extra-curriculars, such as research, volunteering and work. Our mentoring program for struggling students pairs them one-on-one with a faculty mentor to guide them through challenges and prioritization. Another initiative is our new Winter Session mini-semester. It’s the latest way in which we’re expanding online course offerings to allow students flexibility in when and where they can complete their requirements. Additionally, I’m excited to share news regarding our research profile. Before I came to KU, I was well aware of the university’s reputation for research. KU is among a select group of universities in the nation known for excellence in education and research as a member of the Association of American Universities. Now that I’m on campus, I’m even more impressed at the talent of our scholars. Their work continually amazes me. Yet, I also found that our funding for research lags behind many of our peers. We are launching several initiatives, one of which is a new Research Excellence Fund to support the creative, scholarly works of our faculty researchers and the undergraduate and graduate students who work side by side with these leaders in their fields. Undertaking all these endeavors and sustaining our efforts would be for naught without a framework to guide and assess our work. Two initiatives this year seek to keep us on track with our goals. Earlier this academic year, the College introduced its first plan for diversity, equity and inclusion. We’ve also spent this year devising a strategic plan. Both are crucial in ensuring we are creating an environment where our students, faculty and staff can thrive and the College can focus its efforts on the areas we recognize as providing the most impact for our stakeholders. I am excited to share with you all the accomplishments and progress we’ve made over the last year. I hope, after reading our magazine, you’ll come away energized by where the College and its many talented Jayhawks are going.

Rock Chalk,

Carl Lejuez Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences



Home court




The University of Kansas Debate Team, 2016-17

While KU basketball’s quest for the National Championship grabbed our attention during March, another heated tournament with an equally illustrious KU history took place at the University of Kansas. The KU Edwards Campus welcomed the nation’s best collegiate debaters to compete over four intense days, March 24-27, at the 71st National Debate Tournament. This is the first time KU has hosted the tournament, yet KU Debate’s successful history in national competition rivals that of the KU men’s basketball team. They have won the National Debate Tournament championship five times and have qualified for the tournament in 66 of the 71 years of its existence. The university also has had a team reach the final four at least once every decade since the tournament began in 1947, reaching its first final four in 1948 and most recently last year. KU has advanced to the final four 15 times. KU was one of six universities with three qualifying teams at this year’s tournament. Chris Birzer, majoring in mathematics with a minor in chemistry, and Madison Cook, majoring in political science and history, made it to the Doubles Round. Quaram Robinson, pre-law and majoring in African and African-American studies, and Kyndall Delph, majoring in English, advanced to the round of 16. The team of Jacob Hegna, majoring in computer science and mathematics, and Henry Walter, majoring in economics and political science, advanced to the quarterfinals. “It was the first time in history that KU has advanced three teams to the elimination rounds, and getting two teams to the Sweet 16 and one to the Elite Eight is a tremendous achievement,” said Scott Harris, David B. Pittaway Director of Debate, in the Lawrence Journal-World. “I am very proud of all of the hard work of the KU staff and students who helped us host the tournament while performing at such a high level in the competition. We are eager to get back to work for next season.”


TED Talk-style event features faculty innovators This fall, four of KU’s most innovative researchers—with some help from one of its most fascinating aerospace engineering alumni—were the featured presenters at KU Elevate: Innovation in Action, hosted in Wichita. KU Elevate was designed to have an intimate, TED Talk-style feel—from the staging to the production quality to the storytelling-style presentations—and was geared toward Wichita business and thought leaders. The event was hosted by Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, with special guest Marco Villa, a seasoned aerospace executive who has worked on some of the most advanced and cutting-edge programs in the aerospace industry. Two faculty members in the College were featured presenters:

Paul Atchley, professor of psychology, delivered a talk at KU Elevate titled “Driving yourself to distraction: The hidden perils of technology.”

Kristi Neufeld, professor of molecular biosciences, presented “Go with your gut: The study of tumor-suppressing proteins” at KU Elevate.


Researcher named one of first-ever Moore Fellows for antibiotics innovation An invention aimed at combatting superbug resistance to antibiotic drugs earned Joanna Slusky, assistant professor of molecular biosciences and computational biology, a major fellowship for outstanding inventors. She was one of five recipients selected nationwide as the first-ever Moore Inventor Fellows. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation created the fellowship program to recognize early-career innovators at U.S. universities with a high potential to accelerate progress in scientific research, environmental conservation and patient care. Slusky’s invention is a protein that will resensitize bacteria to common antibiotics, thereby overcoming drug-resistant superbugs. Her invention could have a global effect on antibiotic resistance and re-establish the efficacy of antibiotics. Each fellow will receive a total of $825,000 over three years to drive their invention forward, including $50,000 per year from their home institution as commitment to these outstanding individuals. Nominations for the award were open only to Association of American Universities (AAU) institutions and 15 additional institutions from the top 50 National Institutes of Health-funded medical schools. Slusky’s nomination was supported by the KU Office of Research. Joanna Slusky was selected as a Moore Fellow, a highly selective designation that recognizes early-career innovators at universities nationwide.


The Interactive Theatre Troupe is a program offered through the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences to help faculty, staff and students work through issues regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. Undergraduate students write, perform, produce and direct performances to help KU engage in difficult discussions using improvisation, film, sketch comedy and hip-hop theatre. Nicole Hodges Persley, acting chair and associate professor of theatre, directs the program and specializes in race and ethnicity in contemporary performance and improvisation practice and theory.

Alum, MacArthur “genius” to join KU faculty Sarah Deer holds many titles, including MacArthur “genius” Fellow, law professor, victims’ advocate and Jayhawk alumna. She’ll soon add a new one: KU professor. Starting Fall 2017, Deer will join the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and the School of Public Affairs & Administration. A national leader in the effort to protect Native women from gender violence, Deer is currently a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law and a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. She was recognized in 2014 as a MacArthur Fellow. In her scholarship, Deer has documented a history of inadequate protection for victims of physical and sexual abuse in Indian country. Her efforts were instrumental in the passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Returning to KU is a homecoming in many ways for Deer. Her parents both attended KU, and she met her husband, Neal Axton, at the university in 1998. Axton will also join the KU faculty, as a graduate engagement and government information librarian with KU Libraries.

Sarah Deer



Department of Defense renews language training designation at KU

KU is one of nine institutions selected as a Language Training Center for military personnel.


Shegufta Huma, senior in political science with a minor in Spanish, was one of 32 American students selected this fall to win a Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most prestigious recognitions of scholarly excellence. Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. Huma is KU’s 27th Rhodes Scholar.


A designation that allows KU to provide language instruction to military officers from around the country has been renewed through 2019. KU is one of nine institutions selected as a Department of Defense Language Training Center. The designation means a $650,000 grant to KU to provide specific language, regional expertise and culture training to select personnel. The program is aimed at accelerating the development of expertise in language and regional studies to meet training needs of the Department of Defense. “This grant will allow KU to continue to improve the language and cultural competencies of our nation’s military,” said Randy Masten, assistant director of KU’s Graduate Military Programs. Faculty and graduate students in the College will provide instruction through the program in languages such as Russian, Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, German, Japanese and Spanish. KU will instruct military personnel stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, and U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, and summer intensive language programs conducted in Lawrence for members of the U.S. military. Additionally, the military students will receive regional and cultural instruction on the areas associated with the target languages.

$11 million grant establishes research center on infectious disease A new $11 million, five-year grant will enable researchers to better contribute to the fight against infectious disease by studying fundamental biology with the use of small molecule chemical probes. Funding from the National Institutes of Health will create a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE): Chemical Biology of Infectious Disease. The grant was awarded to Thomas Prisinzano, professor and chair of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. He is joined by Scott Hefty, associate professor in molecular biosciences. The grant will bring together researchers from KU, KU Medical Center and Kansas State University. The grant places an emphasis on developing promising infectious disease research efforts of junior faculty members, Prisinzano said. In addition, the new center will establish three core facilities that can be utilized by researchers at KU and other universities: Infectious Disease Assay Development Core; Computational Chemical Biology Core; and Medicinal Chemistry Core.


Making change


Diversity, equity and inclusion includes building community. The College is sponsoring a weekly series that brings students together in an informal setting to get to know each other better over free lunch.

Urban planning joining public affairs & administration The Department of Urban Planning will join the School of Public Affairs & Administration starting next academic year. The move to the public affairs & administration school reflects common interests and strengths in public policy research among the faculty of the two programs. The school is ranked as the top university program in city management and urban policy, according to U.S. News & World Report. Urban planning is currently one of three departments in the School of Architecture, Design & Planning. Urban planning will join the public affairs & administration school as a program. One partnership already in place between the two is a joint degree in urban planning and public administration. KU granted its first master’s of urban planning degree in 1975. The program has been continuously accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board since 1983.

From Day 1, one of Dean Carl Lejuez’s top priorities has been to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus. He had heard firsthand the frustrations and hopes of many students, faculty and staff when, shortly after he was named dean, he flew to Lawrence to attend a campus town hall on race, respect and free speech. In his first semester as dean, he charged a working group to identify opportunities for the College to be a proactive agent of change. A key recommendation from that group: assign resources, in terms of staffing and budget, to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Jennifer Hamer, professor of American studies, was selected to launch DEI initiatives in the College as associate dean, starting July 1. In the many months since, she has put in place a DEI plan and several initiatives, many of which involve partners campus-wide. She’s quick to point out that diversity, equity and inclusion encompass much more than race and ethnicity. “While race and ethnicity are certainly factors that influence how students, faculty and staff experience KU, we also have to look at basic needs, such as mental health resources and academic services for struggling students. I want to see all students, faculty and staff on a level playing field, and that means different things for different people. We’re approaching this challenge holistically,” Hamer said. One of the most visible efforts this year has been the CLAS Time lunch series. The weekly event offers free lunch to all students who attend. The idea is simple – bring together students from across campus in an informal setting to build a stronger community of Jayhawks who know and support each other. The lunches have attracted at least 200 attendees each week. The partnerships and networks Hamer has built throughout the university have extended the College’s reach across campus. Her broad experience and connections also led to her being named as vice provost for diversity and equity for KU this spring. As a key partner and advocate, she has continued to help the College realize goals set forth in its DEI plan. Looking forward, Hamer hopes to make a lasting impact. “Although we have seen advances in access to higher education for more people across a diversity of backgrounds, we can’t claim that everyone has an equally positive experience,” she said. “There are alumni from just about every generation who will tell us that their experience at KU doesn’t match up with the positive experience others may report. When all Jayhawks can say they have felt welcomed, challenged and supported, we’ll know our work has made a difference.”



Guided toward



As each semester comes to a close in the College, a small but consistent percentage of students face dismissal because of poor academic performance. College leaders suspected a variety of factors, many of which had little to do with students’ academic ability. The question posed last year was, if students facing dismissal are paired one-on-one with a faculty mentor, would their grades improve? In spring 2016 the College sought to test this question with a faculty mentoring program for undergraduate students experiencing significant academic challenges. Not all undergraduate College students organically develop connections with their professors and advisors. This program pairs them with a faculty mentor to provide an enhanced level of attention and guidance to utilize resources that will aid in their success at KU. “Students benefit from knowing they have a mentor who is concerned about their academic and personal well-being, who can help them navigate obstacles that impact success along with celebrating their achievements,” said Karen Ledom, director of Student Academic Services, the College’s undergraduate advising office. Mentors found that in many cases the obstacles students faced were in balancing time and priorities, as well as finding campus resources tailored for them. For example, an increasing number of students have to work half-time or even full-time to afford their education, housing and other living expenses. Mentors are able to help them with organization strategies, finding campus financial aid resources and even advising on course load balance. This spring 226 students are being mentored by 147 faculty members. The response from participating students has been overwhelmingly positive. Students reported feeling more connected to their peers and campus community. Since the program’s inception, more than 70% of the students participating in the program have increased their term GPA. “While we’re fine-tuning each semester, we’re very encouraged and proud of the success the students and mentors are achieving together,” Ledom said.

training support motivation

coaching 6

New degree in law and society introduced

With a new degree in law and society offered at the Edwards Campus in Overland Park, KU is the only institution in the Kansas City area to provide a bachelor’s degree in this discipline.

The KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park has launched a new undergraduate program in law and society in which students gain real-world experience through internships and academic research opportunities. KU is the only institution in the Kansas City area to offer a bachelor’s degree in law and society. Law and society is an interdisciplinary field that examines how the law works in practice in public administration, courts, the nonprofit sector, policy, policing and the justice system. Offered through KU’s nationally recognized School of Public Affairs & Administration, a law and society degree prepares graduates for careers in law enforcement as well as occupations in the legal field with human-rights and social-justice organizations, nonprofit organizations, governments, courts, policy think tanks and political institutions. Courses examine legal policy, legal institutions, social movements, psychological attitudes and perceptions, managerial processes, social structures and legal history. There is a growing need in Kansas City for a skilled workforce in the law and society field. According to the MidAmerica Regional Council (MARC), jobs in these fields are expected to increase 7% in the metro area from 2014 to 2024.


Professor’s immigration research garners Carnegie Fellowship

Cecilia Menjívar


A historical marker commemorating the March 8, 1965, sit-in in Strong Hall was unveiled at a ceremony last spring. On that date, students affiliated with the Civil Rights Council on campus launched a sit-in outside the office of Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe. They issued a list of demands around the goal of eradicating racism in restaurants and housing. Professors Bill Tuttle (American studies), Shawn Alexander (African & African-American studies) and John Hoopes (anthropology) advocated for the marker.

Cecilia Menjívar, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Sociology, is at the forefront of immigration research. Now, with a Carnegie Fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, she will be able to expand her research on immigrants living in between legal statuses. Carnegie Fellowships were awarded to 35 scholars this spring. The prestigious fellowship supports research in social sciences and humanities with up to $200,000 awarded to each fellow. It is the most generous stipend of its kind. With fellowship support, Menjívar will be able to write a book that will build on previous studies she’s authored or co-authored aimed at revealing what it means for immigrants to live for years, it not decades, in tenuous legal spaces created by gaps and inconsistencies in federal immigration law. It will also be one of the first studies to look at the effects of the new trend of integrating local-level enforcement into federal efforts to control immigration.

Winter Session gives students option to learn during break In years past, winter break has meant time for travel and catching up with friends and family for students. This winter, it also meant an opportunity for students to catch up on credit hours or even jump ahead. The College offered its first-ever Winter Session between fall and spring semesters. It consisted of more than a dozen online courses condensed into four weeks. Much like summer school, winter courses give students an opportunity to focus on just one or two classes at once. “Something we’ve heard from students and faculty is that the traditional model of several 16-week courses each semester isn’t the ideal educational model for some students. As a result, the College is supporting more opportunities to offer courses in shorter sessions and online,” said Dean Carl Lejuez. “Importantly, this format provides the opportunity for a more intense focus in a shorter period, while holding the rigor of the course constant.” The offerings proved very popular, with nearly every slot filled. The College plans to offer Winter Session courses again next academic year.



Dean shares priorities at State of the College This fall, the College hosted a State of the College event for the first time. The public gathering on campus provided an opportunity for faculty, staff and students to learn about the priorities of Dean Carl Lejuez, who began his tenure in spring 2016. Lejuez discussed three key priorities for the College in the coming year:

Professor, grad student receive grant to study human trafficking Dean Carl Lejuez addressed College faculty, staff and students about priorities at the first-ever State of the College this fall.

»» Enhance student success with a student-centered approach »» Support research and creative works »» Infuse diversity, equity and inclusion into the College culture Nearly half the time was reserved for Q&A with attendees. Questions covered topics including professional development, student success, concealed carry policy and budget constraints. “As someone new to Kansas and this campus, I have relied on the input of faculty, staff, students and alumni to help me lead in a way that meets their expectations for what the College should and could be,” Lejuez said. “I am fortunate to have so much expertise and insight to tap into.” The audience was made up primarily of faculty and staff, with about 175 in attendance.

Student’s film wins international award A film created by visual art student Olivia Hernández was the overall winner of the Short Film Work-in-Progress category from the CreActive International Open Film Olivia Hernández’s film was Festival in Bangladesh. selected as a festival award Hernández’s film, “material girl winner out of more than 4,000 hallelujah,” is a video created in response submissions from 105 countries. to her original sound recording of her mother and cousins singing hymns in a one-room church founded by her great-greatgrandfather in the mountains of Virginia. It was selected as a festival award winner out of more than 4,000 submissions from 105 countries. “To receive an award for my modest attempts at art-making feels like a cosmic ‘thumbs up’ from the universe and encourages me to continue making work that reflects my taste and interests,” Hernández said. “It is incredible that my work has traveled from my computer to a film jury a world away and been found worthy of an award.” Hernández is a senior from Miami who works in expanded media. She finds creative inspiration in the lack of boundaries in space, materials and process in the expanded media discipline.


KU researchers received a $30,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study how frontline workers in the Midwest identify and assist Corinne those vulnerable to Schwarz human trafficking. “Human trafficking is so complicated that survivors’ identities might be read in different ways by different people,” said Corinne Schwarz, a KU doctoral candidate in women, gender and sexuality studies and a co-principal investigator for the project. “Someone might be a survivor of sex or labor trafficking, but if they go to the police, their first frame or identity might be as someone with an undocumented status or perhaps even a criminal.” Hannah Britton, associate professor of women, gender and sexuality studies and political science, is the study’s principal investigator. Britton also directs the Center for the Study of Injustice at KU’s Institute for Policy & Social Research in which she coordinates KU’s Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative. Schwarz said as anti-trafficking efforts in the U.S. have increased in recent years, communities and states have adopted legislation that has increased the client base for service providers. The researchers will work with service providers, such as law enforcement and medical and social service providers, to study how they navigate their workloads and interact with clients. One of the main goals will be to uncover best practices that could be shared among frontline workers, especially in the hopes of preventing sex and labor trafficking.


Psychology department celebrates centennial Alumni, faculty, staff and students gathered together last spring to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Department of Psychology at KU. Psychology has been offered in some form at KU since the university’s founding in 1865. For the first few decades, however, psychology was included within the philosophy department. The first two chancellors, R.W. Oliver and John Fraser, taught courses framed around “Mental Philosophy.” The Department of Psychology became reality in 1916’17, when courses were completely separated from philosophy for the first time. The university offered 15 courses in psychology with three faculty in the department. The first master’s degrees in psychology were reportedly awarded in the early 1920s. To mark its centennial year, the department hosted a number of public events ranging from a casual coffee hour to a series of alumni research talks on subjects from creative thought to coping with serious illness.




A National Endowment for the Humanities grant awarded to the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the Hall Center for the Humanities is fueling a transformation of doctoral education and redefining the humanities Ph.D. for the 21st century at KU. The NEH awards Next Generation Humanities Ph.D. Planning Grants to help university doctoral programs prepare humanities Ph.D. students for careers both inside and outside the academy. The need for doctoral education reform is a common refrain in pages of the higher education press. While KU humanities doctoral recipients enjoy overall higher rates of job market success than the national average, recent research demonstrates that humanities Ph.D. graduates are pursuing a wide range of careers beyond the professoriate. Yet while humanities faculty are trying to provide guidance and training applicable to a range of employment options, many doctoral programs primarily train students for increasingly scarce faculty positions. The grant will help address this issue. A total of $25,000 was awarded to co-principal investigators Paul Kelton, associate dean for the humanities in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and professor of history; Kristine Latta, director of the College Office of Graduate Affairs; and Sally Utech, acting director of the Hall Center for the Humanities. The grant activities are developed through the NEH NextGen working group composed of KU faculty, staff, alumni and students, as well as community and industry partners. The group is making recommendations that aim to transform humanities departmental cultures, helping faculty to recognize and value the range of careers open to their doctoral recipients. The group is also exploring ways that the College can better support humanities departments’ efforts to provide diverse career training to current and future humanities Ph.D. students. The NEH grant supported a visit by Maren Wood, a doctoral career coach, who offered a workshop and lecture on alternative academic careers.




The Rattus Detentus

A newly discovered mammal in the Pacific has earned worldwide attention after a team of scientists named it after an island used to detain people seeking asylum. The team included Robert Timm, professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and curator emeritus in the Biodiversity Institute, and KU research associate Ronald Pine. The name given to the animal, Rattus detentus, calls attention to an Australian detainee center on the animal’s home island of Manus, part of the Papua New Guinea Admiralty Group. The word “detentus” is Latin for detained and is meant to indicate the isolation of this animal on Manus Island and the recent use of the island to detain people seeking political or economic asylum. Discover magazine’s “Year in Science” issue named the new animal as a top scientific discovery of 2016. For decades, scientists had suspected an unnamed animal lived on Manus Island, but did not have a modern specimen as proof until 2012, when a local boy working with a Finnish graduate student caught one. “Now, we have a beautiful specimen to work with and well-preserved DNA,” Timm said. “The DNA is critical in ascertaining where this species belongs in the tree of life.” Although the rodent’s relationship to other species is now understood, Timm said the habits and abundance of Rattus detentus remain shrouded in mystery.



SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REPLACING SOCIAL INTERACTION If you worry that people today are using social media as a crutch for a real social life, a KU study will set you at ease. Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of communication studies, found that people are actually quite adept at discerning the difference between using social media and having an honest-to-goodness social interaction. “There is a tendency to equate what we do on social media as if it is social interaction, but that does not reflect people’s actual experience using it,” Hall said. “All of this worry that we’re seeking out more and more social interaction on Facebook is not true. Most interactions are face to face, and most of what we consider social interaction is face to face.” According to Hall, social media is more like old-fashioned peoplewatching. “Liking” something is similar to a head nod. It’s not social interaction, but it’s acknowledging you are sharing space with someone else. “Keeping tabs on other people sharing our social spaces is normal and part of what it means to be human,” Hall said.


MODELING COULD ADVANCE UNDERSTANDING OF CELLS KU researchers are involved in a project that shows how advances in molecular biology and computer science around the world soon may lead to a three-dimensional computer model of a cell, the fundamental unit of life. This development could herald a new era for biological research, medical science, and human and animal health. “Cells are the foundation of life,” said Ilya Vakser, professor of computational biology and molecular biosciences and director of the Center for Computational Biology. Vakser is a co-author on a paper

published in the Journal of Molecular Biology on cell modeling. Modelling a cell not only establishes knowledge of how a cell Preliminary model of mycoplasma works, but it will also mycoides. improve understanding of the mechanisms of diseases and drug action, which will be a tremendous boost to our efforts at drug design. As an example, Vakser said a working 3-D molecular cell model could help to replace or augment phases of time-consuming and expensive drug development protocols required today to bring drug therapies from the scientist’s bench to the marketplace.


PORNOGRAPHY READ FOR LAUGHS, NOT SCANDAL A little-examined Spanish Inquisition investigation into pornography could shed light on how ordinary Europeans read literature during the Enlightenment. “Everyone talks about how people read in the 18th century because there was a boom in printing,” said Marta Vicente, a University of Kansas associate professor of history and women, gender and sexuality studies. “But there is no evidence of how ordinary people actually read.” In an essay recently published in the journal Comparative Literature, Vicente analyzed an Inquisition case detailing a Mexican priest disciplined for reading the illustrated French novel “Le Portier des Chartreux.” Most scholars argue that early modern Church authorities banned this book

Madrid Fair in Cebada Square, Manuel de la Cruz Vázquez.


because its obscene passages were seen as a venue to discuss dangerous ideas. Yet, Vicente suggests that while the author of the forbidden book may have intended to spread radical ideas, most ordinary people appropriated the text and interpreted it in their own way. None of the readers of the novel examined in the Inquisition case paid attention to the philosophical content in “Le Portier des Chartreux,” as they often just joked about scenes or discussed the literature events, she said. “The priest and friends missed the philosophical messages of the novel — not because they weren’t smart enough, but because they were not interested,” Vicente said. “The context in which they read the novel invited laughter and jokes rather than a complex study of the philosophical content of the work.”


RECOMMENDATIONS TO IMPROVE MEDIA COVERAGE OF IMMIGRATION According to a KU researcher, the ways the media covered immigration issues in the presidential campaign illustrates the wide chasm between the media and academic representations of this complex topic. Brent Metz, associate professor of anthropology, analyzed migration issues covered by the news and identified key challenges for the media covering immigration. Of particular concern is the use of stereotypes and the labeling of migrants in ways that are not precise. “While some sympathetic pundits restrict their attention to human rights, other media intentionally misrepresent Latino migrants in particular in harsh stereotypical terms such as criminals, terrorists, economic parasites or illegal voters,” he said. These representations ignore academic research that refutes stereotypes. “Various studies point out what businesses and local governments

already know — that when welcomed, immigrants contribute more to economies and vibrant communities than they take in government services,” Metz said. A further concern raised by his research relates to explanations of why people migrate to the U.S. Media over emphasizes poverty, gangs and traffickers as key motivations to migrate, while ignoring the ways economic policies by governments fuel migration.


RESEARCHER POINTS FINGER AT INACCURACY IN MOST BIOLOGY TEXTBOOKS Nearly all biology textbooks are wrong, according to a paper co-authored by Christopher Haufler, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology. Haufler and his colleagues lament a confusing misunderstanding in major biology textbooks’ presentation of ferns, an intriguing group of plants that have successfully inhabited Earth for around 300 million years — longer than any flowering plant or pine tree. Haufler and his collaborators found that most textbooks depict ferns as extreme inbreeders, capable of reproducing new, genetically identical plants without outbreeding. However, their research found the vast majority of fern reproduction consists of outbreeding between genetically distinct parents to yield genetic variation, in much the same way as other plants. The ferns’ self-replicating ability should be viewed as a “backup system,” that helps explain why ferns

“The truth makes things a little more complex.”

have survived eons longer than other varieties of plant, but this is not their primary form of reproduction. Haufler believes textbooks maintain the myth that ferns reproduce primarily via inbreeding because the idea is both captivating and simple to understand. “The truth makes things a little more complex,” he said. “Our discoveries make it much more logical to understand how ferns got so diverse — it’s because they have the same sort of genetic systems that every other plant does.”




Researchers working at the Ultrafast Laser Lab at KU successfully created a new bilayer material that could lead to more efficient and versatile light emission and, consequently, improved LED screens. “The goal of this whole direction of research is to produce light-emitting devices, such as LEDs that are ultrathin — just a few nanometers thick — and flexible enough that you can bend it. We showed through this bilayer material, it can be achieved,” said Hui Zhao, associate professor of physics and astronomy at KU. Zhao and fellow researchers Matthew Bellus, Samuel Lane, Frank Ceballos and Qiannan Cui, all KU physics graduate students, and colleagues at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln created the new material using a low-tech “Scotch tape” method pioneered in creating graphene, the singleatomic-layer material that won its creators the Nobel Prize for physics in 2010.



Supported by the National Science Foundation, the thinner, bendable and more energy efficient LEDs have important practical uses. “Think about a computer or phone screen if you could fold it a few times and put it in your pocket,” Zhao said.


BREXIT CHAOS HAS BROUGHT ON POLITICIZED JUDICIARY IN BRITAIN, HISTORIAN SAYS While last year’s surprise Brexit referendum shocked the political world, Jonathan Clark, Hall Distinguished Professor of British History, says less attention has focused on the emergence of a politicized judiciary in the United Kingdom. In late January following an earlier court decision, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that Parliament must vote on whether the government can start the process to leave the European Union, an action that last year’s referendum triggered. The court case was a tactic by those wanting Britain to remain in the EU. They argued that under the doctrine of the “sovereignty of Parliament,” an Act of Parliament was necessary to begin the process of leaving. This could yet touch off a constitutional crisis, Clark argued in an essay, for Britain’s Supreme Court did eventually decide that Parliament needed to approve Brexit. The House of Commons has voted to do so, but the House of Lords still could have reversed that decision. Clark said the episode illustrates a power-grab by the Supreme Court in Britain, an element that more resembles the judiciary in the United States because for most of British history the higher judiciary were much less proactive until Tony Blair, as prime minister, created the Supreme Court in 2005. Now, two institutions are likely fighting to fill that vacuum of political power: the Supreme Court, representing the ideal of the rule of law, and the referendum, giving expression to the ideal of popular sovereignty, he said. Both appeal to history. “History,” Clark said, “has practical consequences.”



U.S. TENDS TO HIDE WAR AGAINST DEMOCRACIES A study by KU researchers suggests the United States tends to carry out secret military operations against other democratic countries of the world while conducting open war against non-democracies. “The U.S. puts on a public face of being nice to democracies, which Americans think are nice,” said lead author Christian Crandall, professor of psychology.

KU professor argues that the U.S. and other Western liberal democracies employ covert force against each other.

Crandall’s co-authors are Owen Cox from the Center for Public Partnerships & Research, Mariya Omelicheva from the Department of Political Science and Ryan Beasley of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Their analysis also shows the U.S. is apt to covertly detain citizens from democracies in so-called “black sites” while holding citizens from non-democracies in plain sight at known prisons like Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. “If you’re from Canada, we hide you in detention in Afghanistan. But if you’re from Yemen, we put you in Guantanamo and post your picture on a Pentagon website,” Crandall said. The authors chalk it up to what they dub the “clandestine hypothesis” and argue that the U.S. and other Western liberal democracies employ covert force against each other, “precisely because they desist from engaging in the open military hostilities and war with one another, as the overt use of force hurts legitimacy of democratic governments.”


GARDEN CITY OFFERS LESSONS ON EDUCATING DIVERSE POPULATIONS One of the most diverse towns in the United States is in Southwest Kansas. Garden City has been the site of rapidly changing demographics for more than 30 years, and a new study by two KU professors argues the examples the community has set can help educators in other culturally and linguistically diverse settings improve their own work. Jennifer Ng, associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies, and Don Stull, professor emeritus of anthropology, spent five months living in Garden City. They interviewed educators and community leaders, and they observed how schools taught a student population in which as many as 21 languages other than English are commonly spoken. Among their recommendations, the authors suggest taking a closer look at teacher recruitment and retention. The district faces geographical challenges in recruiting new teachers to the area and it has a high turnover rate: nearly 15% annually. The recruitment challenge also illustrates how teacher preparation programs at universities like KU can do more to encourage future teachers to consider teaching in rural areas. Stull and Ng observed several other aspects of Garden City’s education system that could be strengthened and serve as positive examples for schools in similar communities. These included diversity training sessions and orientations, making concerted efforts to diversify teaching staff and school personnel, as well as getting parents involved in their children’s education. Perhaps above all, Garden City’s broad affirmation of diversity in its schools and across the community serves as the best example to others. A student group marches in the Garden City Community Mexican Fiesta Parade.


College welcomes new class of faculty At a fall reception, the College recognized faculty starting their careers at KU in the 2016 calendar year. The group includes 23 faculty, four of whom were hired as Foundation Distinguished Professors. The College also recruited faculty to one named professorship: the Hall Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture.

Folashade Agusto Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, assistant professor, specializing in mathematical and statistical approaches to public health. James Bever Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Foundation Distinguished Professor, considered a world leader in microbiology. James Blakemore Dept. of Chemistry, assistant professor, specializing in catalysis and efficient energy conversion. Holger Brandt Dept. of Psychology, assistant professor, specializing in quantitative psychology. Amy Jo Burgin Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies Program, associate professor, specializing in aquatic ecology. Geng Chen Dept. of Mathematics, assistant professor, specializing in applied mathematics and mathematical modeling. Julie Gatts Dept. of Speech-LanguageHearing, clinical assistant professor, specializing in teaching and applied research with adults with acquired communication disorders.

Daniel Hernandez Dept. of Mathematics, assistant professor, specializing in commutative algebra and algebraic geometry. Margaret Kelley Dept. of American Studies, associate professor, specializing in adolescent development. Ian Michael Lewis Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, assistant professor, specializing in theoretical high energy physics. Terrence Loecke Environmental Studies Program, assistant professor, specializing in qualitative and global change ecology. Ben Merriman School of Public Affairs & Administration, assistant professor, specializing in state-federal and interstate conflicts in policy. Agnieszka Miedlar Dept. of Mathematics, assistant professor, specializing in numerical methods and scientific computing. Ana Paula Mumy Dept. of Speech-LanguageHearing, clinical assistant professor, specializing in articulation disorders, literacy and bilingualism.

Dennis O’Rourke Dept. of Anthropology, Foundation Distinguished Professor, considered one of the foremost experts in the United States on the use of ancient DNA to reconstruct human settlement in the Americas. Panying Rong Dept. of Speech-LanguageHearing, assistant professor, specializing in motor speech disorders and speech production mechanism. Christophe Royon Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, Foundation Distinguished Professor, considered a world leader in forward and diffractive physics, working at the major particle accelerators, including most recently the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Switzerland. Steven Soper Dept. of Chemistry and Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Foundation Distinguished Professor, and a leading international researcher in developing new technologies that have important applications for diagnosis of cancer and other serious diseases.

Justin Stachnik Dept. of Geography & Atmospheric Science, assistant professor, specializing in climate variability. Shuai Sun Dept. of Chemistry, assistant specialist (teaching specialist), specializing in theoretical & computational chemistry. Rob Unckless Dept. of Molecular Biosciences, assistant professor, specializing in evolutionary genetics. Robert Warrior Dept. of English and Dept. of American Studies, Hall Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture, researching Native American and indigenous literature and literary criticism, American Indian intellectual history and tradition, and the modern Native American movement. Aimee Wilson Humanities Program, assistant professor, specializing in modern British and American literature.




Jayhawk Trail

W. 15TH ST.

Earth, Energy & Environment Center (EEEC)


Will host work in chemistry, medicinal chemistry, physics GREEN HALL and molecular biosciences

Integrated Science Building (ISB) JAYHAWKER TOWERS






New Student Union

Central District Parking Garage


Central Utility Plant






Summerfield Hall


Being renovated to become a new home for the Department of Film & Media Studies





New Student Apartments










Will be new home to geology and petroleum engineering studies

New Residence Hall & Dining Facility


ST. 19TH 19TH ST.


By Joel Mathis


What do you call the once-in-a-century redevelopment project that is adding and revamping hundreds of thousands of square feet of classroom and laboratory space to the University of Kansas campus? Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has a word for it: “Transformative.” “Together, these projects have transformed the university,” she said during a November ceremony celebrating the construction’s progress. “Not just changed or improved … Transformed.” The transformation includes construction or renovation of three buildings that will be occupied in part by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences: the new Earth, Energy & Environment Center (EEEC), which will be home to geology and petroleum engineering studies; the new Integrated Science Building (ISB), which will host work in chemistry, medicinal chemistry, physics and molecular biosciences; and Summerfield Hall, which is being renovated to become a new home for the Department of Film & Media Studies, complete with a new soundstage and high-tech computer editing facilities. Add to that new apartment-style housing and a new residence hall built on the south side of the main campus, plus a new student union, new parking garage and utility plant, and you get what Gray-Little acknowledges “is the largest and most complex development project KU has undertaken in nearly a century.” “For our students, this means new classrooms, new ways of interacting with instructors and classmates and close integration of their undergraduate studies with cutting-edge research activity,” she said during a project update earlier this year. “For our researchers, it means a state-of-the-art facility designed to spawn multidisciplinary research and be an anchoring point for collaboration among KU’s research centers and campuses.” It also means that KU students and researchers will prepare themselves for 21st century jobs in 21st century facilities, after decades in buildings that—while venerable—were increasingly unsuited for the job. “We have to have top-flight facilities to support the top-flight students and top-flight faculty we have at the university,” said Joe Heppert, associate vice chancellor in KU’s Office of Research. “That’s why it’s critical the institution has made this real investment in the future of research.”

INTEGRATION IN EVERY WAY Two big ideas have clearly guided the design and construction process of the EEEC, ISB and Summerfield: Transparency and interdisciplinary collaboration. That’s why the classrooms and labs in EEEC and ISB feature so many windows; both buildings also have lots of small nooks—at the sides of staircases, in hallways, and elsewhere—where students and faculty both can sit for a few minutes to relax or have a quick meeting. KU officials hope such spaces will provide a spark for innovation. “This is about integration in every kind of way,” said Robert Goldstein, associate dean for natural sciences and mathematics in the College. “One of the things I think everybody realizes is that many interactions take place through collaborative collisions. If people are in the hallway, drinking coffee, those collisions can result in something.” For film and media studies, the relocation to Summerfield puts them within easy walking distance of other creative disciplines, allowing for enhanced collaborative opportunities with the departments of dance, music, theatre and visual art. If the construction of new buildings has been transformative, though, KU officials say they want the area to still feel familiar. To that end, new building exteriors have been constructed either using familiar Kansas limestone used on other campus buildings, or with materials with similar colors. “This is a pretty historic site on campus. We want to make sure that even though it’s a modern science building, it fits onto the context of campus,” Goldstein said of the EEEC, adding: “We want KU to still feel like a park. The walk down the Hill will still feel like the walk down the Hill.” Of the ISB, Heppert sees it as an investment in the success of the university and its students. “This will give students access to world-class facilities,” he said of the construction. “They’ll experience things here at KU that, at many good regional institutions, they just don’t have the opportunity to experience.” He concluded: “The university has made a commitment that we will be a vibrant and competitive 21st-century institution. It’s a very exciting place to be.”

“We want KU to still feel like a park. The walk down the Hill will still feel like the walk down the Hill.” 15


Innovation hub:

EARTH, ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT CENTER (EEEC) This 141,000-square-foot project, built at a cost of $78.5 million—about half from private donations— is actually two buildings: Ritchie Hall and Slawson Hall, built along Naismith Drive between 15th Street and Crescent Road. They’re connected to each other via a “grand atrium” that features a “virtual reality cave,” and to Lindley Hall and Learned Hall via sky bridges, making for easier movement and collaboration among researchers in all of the buildings. “It feels more like a neighborhood,” Goldstein said. “It’s all connected.” Ritchie Hall, the EEEC’s north tower, is named after KU alumni Scott and Carol Ritchie of Wichita, who donated $10 million to the project. The building features a 162-seat auditorium that includes round tables and technology designed to facilitate in-class student collaboration. There are also two 65-seat engaged-learning classrooms, and an array of labs, offices and collaborative spaces. Slawson Hall, the south tower, is named after Donald C. Slawson, a KU alum and past Kansas Board of Regents chair who died in 2014. His family made a $16 million gift for the project. The hall features the Robert M. Beren Petroleum Center—named for the founder of Berexco Inc., an oil and gas exploration firm—a 232-seat auditorium to be used for lectures, training and workshops, as well as for conferences that will engage students, faculty, staff and collaborators from outside the university.

EEEC will be occupied by sophisticated labs and classrooms; geologists and geophysicists will be joined by petroleum engineers. The buildings include space for faculty and students doing fundamental research in geology, in applications related to both energy and environment. KU’s Tertiary Oil Recovery Program and Office of Innovation & Collaboration will have a significant presence, too. Goldstein expects the combination of diverse disciplines will spark innovation. “The idea is to put researchers side-by-side who could be interacting with one another,” he said. “We put up as few walls as possible—we make the labs as open as we can—and we try to make collaborative spaces and programs.” The EEEC is being built on a part of campus that previously served as a cut-through for students hiking from one class in one building to another class a few blocks over. To preserve that movement, the facility also features the “Jayhawk Trail,” an open courtyard that will allow the pass-throughs to continue—and, hopefully, draw the curiosity of students who want to know more about what’s going on inside the buildings. “One of the things we want to do in the central part of campus is to make our campus accessible to the rest of the world,” Goldstein said. “We think this will be a really beautiful spot for that.” The building is expected to open for classes in Spring 2018.

“The idea is to put researchers sideby-side who could be interacting with one another… We put up as few walls as possible.” 16


The EEEC is being built along Naismith Drive between 15th Street and Crescent Road. The complex connects two new buildings via an atrium, and Lindley Hall and Learned Hall can be accessed via sky bridges.

SLAWSON HALL, the south tower, features a 232-seat auditorium to be used for lectures, training, workshops and conferences.

RITCHIE HALL, the north tower, features a 162-seat auditorium as well as two 65-seat engaged-learning classrooms, labs, offices and collaborative spaces.



Discovery accelerated:

INTEGRATED SCIENCE BUILDING (ISB) If the EEEC is big, the new $147.5 million Integrated Science Building is huge: 280,000 square feet of space for teaching and research in chemistry, medicinal chemistry, physics, molecular biosciences and related fields. “Those teams will be together in the same building, some of them for the first time, and able to collaborate in these facilities in ways they haven’t been able to collaborate before,” Heppert said. The east section’s basement is a low-vibration area for researchers doing materials and biology imaging work. “That will really expand our capability to support life sciences research, integrated circuits, and engineering and the basic sciences on campus,” Heppert said. Faculty in the upper floors of the ISB’s east side will focus on drug discovery and catalysts, as well as other processes that require intensive chemical use. “We haven’t always been able to do that effectively in some of the 60-year-old infrastructure we have on campus,” Heppert said. The west side will feature even more labs for research into life sciences, as well as a 5,000-squarefoot “clean room” that will enable experiments on biomaterials and electronics. The central portion of the building includes both an atrium and a 325-student lecture hall. As in the EEEC, the ISB is built with openness in mind. Classrooms and labs both will feature windows, letting passersby peer in while presentations are made and experiments completed. It’s a feature not found in older facilities like Malott Hall, home to chemistry and other programs. “People can walk through Malott Hall and not know what’s going on,” said Mark Reiske, associate director of Design & Construction Management at KU. “Whereas here, a freshman or sophomore will be able to see research and get interested.” “It’s a transformative period,” added Jim Modig, director of Design & Construction Management. “Our current science facilities pre-date man’s walk on the moon. Now we’ll be ready to do the science of today and tomorrow.” Construction on the ISB is expected to finish in time for Fall 2018 classes.

The Integrated Science Building is being built just south of Jayhawker Towers. It will provide 280,000 square feet of new space for teaching and research in the sciences.

The ISB (right) sits where the Burge Union once did. A new union (left) is also being built as part of the project.

“Now we’ll be ready to do the science of today and tomorrow.” Like other new construction on campus, the ISB features more windows and open spaces to put sciences on display, as well as encourage more coincidental interaction.



Creative leap:

SUMMERFIELD HALL The renovation of Summerfield Hall, a $10 million project, might seem small by comparison, but it holds one big advantage for KU: It brings the Department of Film & Media Studies to the heart of campus—a big journey from its longtime home at Oldfather Studios, isolated from campus on Ninth Street in Lawrence. There is some sadness at leaving Oldfather; that facility’s future has not yet been decided. But, said Henry Bial, director of the School of the Arts and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, “We realized we could put millions of dollars into Oldfather, and we’d have a film studio that was state of the art for the 1960s, when the building went up in the first place.” Instead, renovations at Summerfield give the department state-of-the-art facilities to teach the next generation of film, TV and media professionals the tricks of the trade. “We’ll spend less time patching holes in a sinking ship,” said John McCluskey, the department’s assistant technical director. Renovations at Summerfield include the creation of a new two-story soundstage—a substantial portion of the building’s second story was ripped out to make room—with an exterior door to bring vehicles inside the building for some shoots. The building also features a new recording studio, and an adjacent classroom with room for dozens of students to watch the audio production process at work. The audio recording facilities at Oldfather can hold only a few students at once. “It will really allow us to expand the sound design portion of our program,” said Michael Baskett, the department chair. Other new features at Summerfield include a large new computer lab and additional editing bays, along with an animation lab and additional classrooms. The department expects to move into its new digs in time for the Fall 2017 semester. “I’m pleased that both the College and KU realized that laboratory spaces are just as important for the creative arts,” Bial said. “It’s important we give students and faculty the right equipment to do the job.”

ISB (left), seen from Daisy Hill

Summerfield Hall: In its new home, film and media studies will upgrade to a two-story soundstage (top) with a curved edge to eliminate corners.



Hawks to Watch: Class of 2016 In 2016, the College celebrated its first class of Hawks to Watch, a new feature that recognizes the achievements of alumni who have attended the university within the past 15 years. Hawks to Watch are disrupters. They’re poised for greatness, inspiring their colleagues and excelling in their professions. Having recently graduated, they are just starting to leave their mark and we can’t wait to see how their story unfolds. These Jayhawks span all industries including business, non-profits, tech, healthcare, media, law and the arts. Many of the inaugural class of Hawks to Watch flew back to campus for a visit last fall. Their visits included small group discussions with students, visits with faculty members, and participation in career-focused panels. All visiting Hawks were recognized at a luncheon hosted by the KU Alumni Association and attended by Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Provost Neeli Bendapudi, Dean Carl Lejuez and KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson.


MICHAEL BARNICLE, trial attorney

MICHAEL BARRY, senior product manager

A former lawyer in the U.S. Army, Michael now works for an international law firm, dealing with government contracts, and he also offers his services pro bono to military veterans.

Michael is one of those humanities graduates who puts his skills to use in the technological world, applying the lessons he learned as a KU English major every day at Amazon.

TODD BRADLEY, medical instructor Todd is a faculty member at Duke University who has made significant discoveries both at understanding the precise mechanisms of cellular genomic regulation and in efforts to develop an effective HIV-1 vaccine. He hopes his work translates into novel therapeutics and vaccines that can improve the lives of patients around the world.

AMY VIRGINIA BUCHANAN, performer and entrepreneur Amy has carved her own path as a performer in New York City, acting, singing and writing. She also co-founded Spring Street Social Society, a business enterprise that plans and hosts creative and unexpected dinner parties and/or performances across the country.


DEVON CANTWELL, director of data, assessments and innovation


LAUREN HENION, speech-language pathologist

JUSTIN MACKEY, biomedical sales consultant

Devon is working to “flip the script on education.” She’s focused on rewriting policies and practices of traditional education to improve opportunities and success rates for students of color and low-income students.

Kirsten is an active student leader and president of the Student Governing Council at KU Medical Center, where she’s pursuing a residency in obstetrics & gynecology to train as a physician and surgeon.

Lauren is in her dream career, working with patients to teach them skills to navigate speech and language disorders, empowering her patients to be the best possible version of themselves.

Justin spent over a decade working with student athletes at KU and the University of Alabama at Birmingham to help them succeed off the court, before pivoting to a career in biomedical sales.

JOHANNA MASKA, communications executive

CHRIS MCDONALD, youth treatment counselor


History alum Johanna spent eight years working for President Obama, starting at the beginning of the Iowa caucuses before turning to business communications.

Chris is passionate about his work supporting youth, many of them coming from difficult backgrounds. He credits his time at KU as a turning point that propelled him into his career.

William is a Marine who served in both the infantry and intelligence. He’s a cofounder and CEO of Team Rubicon Global, an organization that enlists veterans in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.

RACHEL MYSLIVY, statewide coordinator, Double Up Food Bucks

NATALIE PAK, speech-language pathologist

KENTON RAMBSY, professor

JOHN SEBELIUS, artist and filmmaker

Kenton is charting new academic territory by placing rap music squarely within an academic tradition by displaying the overlaps between famed writers and rappers.

John is an artist, filmmaker and designer who has exhibited his work across the globe. His art and film challenge the viewer to think beyond the normal experience by investigating individuals from unconventional communities.

Natalie works with students district-wide to evaluate and provide tools for speech-language disorders. Starting a new job in a new state, Colorado, was overwhelming at first, but she’s finding herself at home in a career she loves.

As a grad student, Rachel conducted a state-wide oral history project; led a local elementary school to achieve the Kansas Green School of the Year Award; and formed a statewide network for women in Kansas.

SARA SNEATH, environmental reporter A typical day in the office for Sara could involve wandering through marshes, riding an oyster boat, or waiting by the phone. She is the environmental reporter for the Victoria Advocate of Victoria, Texas.



Social media takeovers offer glimpse into careers of grads Cast your mind back to when you were a KU student. Once you get past all of the wonderful memories of life on the Hill, you might also remember the feelings of uncertainty about what you would do beyond graduation. One way that alumni can help fellow Jayhawks navigate the question of life beyond KU is by taking over one of our social media accounts and sharing a day-in-the-life in your career. The experiences of our alumni not only provide inspiration for current students but also help open up a world of career possibilities that they may never have considered.

This semester we have had social media takeovers by alumni working in a wide range of careers. Editors, meteorologists, videographers, academics, and innovators in education have all shared their experiences with current students. But we know that the jobs our alumni do are as rich and diverse as the many departments that make up the tapestry of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at KU. If you are interested in helping, please get in touch by emailing

College alum and copywriter Anna Allen took over the College Instagram account this February.



Alum, Colombian president wins Nobel Peace Prize President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this fall for his efforts to end a 50-year civil war in his country. Santos, a 1973 KU graduate in business and economics, negotiated a peace accord with Colombian rebels. The initial agreement was unexpectedly rejected by voters, but a modified version was later approved by congress. The civil war has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced nearly 6 million. Santos arrived at KU in 1969 and earned his 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 College honored Santos with the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award in 2012. He returned to Lawrence to receive the award that year. A discussion about his career and KU experiences at the Dole Institute of Politics drew about 500 attendees. He was the first sitting head of state to visit the Dole Institute. “President Santos is among our most distinguished alumni and has been a wonderful supporter of the University of Kansas throughout his career,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

Pluto discovery gets stamp of approval In 1930, a 24-year-old amateur astronomer named Clyde Tombaugh was working at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona to pay for his upcoming freshman year at KU when he discovered Pluto. Tombaugh’s stellar discovery earned him a scholarship to the University of Kansas, where he completed his bachelor’s degree (1936) and master’s degree (1938) in astronomy. And now U.S. POSTAL SERVICE his discovery has earned a place in postal history. Tombaugh and Pluto were back in the news in 2015 when the New Horizons probe finished its nine-year journey to Pluto Above: A new stamp set commemorates the and sent back some of the New Horizons probe’s journey to Pluto, where it highest-quality images of the captured stunning images of the dwarf planet. A feature of particular interest to Jayhawks is the former planet to date. These heart-shaped region, named Tombaugh Regio pictures include a closer look at after the alum who discovered Pluto. the Tombaugh Regio, a heartRight: Clyde Tombaugh gained fame and a KU shaped surface feature named scholarship by identifying Pluto in 1930. after the Jayhawk himself. Last October, the U.S. Postal Service announced it would honor the dwarf planet with a new “Pluto-Explored!” stamp set. It features the New Horizons Probe and a picture of Tombaugh Regio. The stamps can be purchased on the U.S. Postal Service’s website.




Generosity lifts College ever onward When the University of Kansas issued a call for alumni and friends to help it rise Far Above during its comprehensive campaign, supporters of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences were true to form in their generosity. During the eight-year campaign, donors invested in College students and faculty and their potential to make discoveries that change the world.

$132,200,000 Donations and bequests made to the College



45,904 Total number of gifts




New opportunity funds



Total number of donors


Donors who were new donors


Small gifts, big impact Crowdfunding platform Launch KU builds buzz for giving opportunities In the past year, a new option for supporting KU programs, faculty and students has taken off. Launch KU, an online crowdfunding platform, has broadened opportunities for alumni and friends to make a big impact no matter the size of their gift. Campaigns have benefitted the College in multiple ways, including support for initiatives such as study abroad, scholarships and bringing a T. rex back to campus.

MARY KLAYDER STUDY ABROAD OPPORTUNITY AWARD Over the past 27 years, more than 1,000 students have traveled with Mary Klayder to Great Britain and Costa Rica. Klayder, a lecturer in the Department of English and a faculty fellow in the University Honors Program, offers the trips between semesters or over spring break to offer a shorter-term study abroad experience during students’ short time at KU. The campaign raised $33,555, exceeding its goal by more than $6,500. “I want to thank everyone who contributed to the fund to help Honors students study abroad. These programs help students see and understand the larger world, to see us as part of a bigger picture. And funding expands these opportunities,” Klayder said.


The School of Public Affairs & Administration has been ranked #1 in the nation for city management and urban policy since 1998. While its reputation attracts a diverse and talented pool of recruits, the school’s scholarship funding is limited. Scholarship recipients generally receive less than 17% of the cost for students to join the Edwin O. Stene Master of Public Administration Program. The school reached out to its alumni network, seeking their assistance to raise $10,000 to bolster MPA scholarship funds. The campaign exceeded its goal by $325. Godfrey Riddle, a graduate of the class of 2015 and scholarship recipient, shared his story during the campaign as an example of the difference scholarship funds can make.

A T. rex fossil has been making its way to KU from a dig site in Montana, bit by bit. With a goal to add to the fossil collection, the KU Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Institute launched a crowdfunding campaign to support a fourweek expedition over the summer. Nearly 90 donors helped push the total to $26,170, nearly $10,000 over the campaign goal. With campaign support, the fossil collection now includes 25% of the skull, 60% of the hips and 45% of the legs. David Burnham, a KU paleontologist and courtesy professor in geology, led an ever-changing roster of volunteers, students and staff on the expedition in July. Among those students was Kyle Atkins-Weltman, a biology student who works in the herpetology department at the Biodiversity Institute. His parents, John Weltman and Cliff Atkins of Boston, contributed to the campaign as a result of their son’s enthusiasm for the project.

“I come from a really poor background, so college was a financial stretch for my family. A master’s at the #1 program seemed out of the question, and my acceptance at KU was bittersweet… until I realized that I had received a scholarship,” Riddle said.

“When you have children, you want to invest in the things that excite them,” Weltman said. “We also believe strongly in supporting education. And whatever knowledge one gains from the excavation—we wanted to help that on a broader scale.”





Admiration for ‘Moby-Dick’ steers gift Elizabeth Schultz shares her history with novel that influenced her career, professorship fund

Elizabeth Schultz, an emeritus professor of English, taught “Moby-Dick” in KU classrooms from 1967 to 2001. She discovered that many of the themes, from race to gender to environmentalism, resonated with students through the decades. Her gift to establish the Herman Melville Distinguished Professorship in 19th Century American Literature will secure a place in KU English classrooms for 19th century classics such as “Moby-Dick,” among others.

Reading Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” for the first time in college in 1957, I found myself plunged into a new world of language and thought. A decade later, teaching Melville’s novel for the first time at KU, I realized what a profound impact it had on my students. In 1967, when many young men were being drafted into the Vietnam war, a war which they opposed, the novel—about men on a doomed ship led by a megalomaniac—became deeply meaningful to them. In subsequent years, I found that “Moby-Dick” continued to speak to my own deepest concerns as well as those of my students: it deepened my understanding of racism, community, democracy, of the environment, capitalism, war, of women, art and religion. It helped me to recognize that the most important questions I could ask were “How may I live a good life?” and “How do I know what is good?” It also pushed me to attempt to answer these questions. When I learned two years ago that “Moby-Dick” was seldom being taught in the KU Department of English, I thought I needed to act to try to make certain that this novel—so significant in enriching my life and the lives of my students—would be taught on a regular basis. Consequently, I determined to create the Herman Melville Distinguished


Professorship in 19th Century American Literature, which would help to keep Melville’s great novel among critical learning opportunities for KU students. Knowing, however, that Melville was one of several superlative writers at work during the mid-19th century in the United States, a time of immense turmoil in our collective social and political life, and knowing that the very best scholars in 19th-century American literature had diverse interests, I decided that to find this “best scholar,” I would need to broaden and diversify the context for this professorship. Hence, I stipulated that while the title of the professorship would carry Melville’s name, the professorship should encourage the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the English department to draw on the expertise of scholars world-wide whose work might focus on Melville as well as that of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, or Emily Dickinson. The test of a great work of literature is that it never wears out—the questions it raises are good for all times and all people. These authors’ works, and the scholars who study and teach them, will continue, I hope, to challenge students for generations.


GIFTS HELP COLLEGE INVEST IN RESEARCH Scholars in the College make major contributions through their research, whether it’s studying antibiotic resistance, human trafficking, social movements or myriad other subjects. While the creativity and ingenuity of faculty have been nearly unlimited, the College’s resources to support their work have been finite. To address this issue, the College has established the Research Excellence Fund to enhance the support it can invest in faculty research. The funding is similar to start-up funding, where the College could invest in promising projects to help faculty take their work to the next level, which can mean things like major federal grants, invitations to exhibit in high-profile venues, the next great book project, and fellowships for students. Most importantly, all awards come with additional support to provide a research experience for undergraduate students to develop core liberal arts and sciences skills working closely with a leader in their field of study. “We have the talent to compete with our peers for these opportunities, but we’re behind in financial support. I have every expectation that the strategic investments we’ll be able to make through the Research Excellence Fund will help us compete with our peers in our research profile and outpace them in the type of transformative research experiences available for students,” said Carl Lejuez, dean of the College. Several alumni have shared the dean’s enthusiasm for bolstering research funding available to support innovative work. Donors have provided nearly $250,000 so far for the fund.


PROFESSOR ESTABLISHES FUND FOR WOMEN IN STEM FIELDS Mary C. Hill, a professor in the Department of Geology, has established a new fund that seeks to help level the playing field for underrepresented groups, and especially for women, within the faculty of STEM fields. The Mary C. Hill Research Fund for Women will provide support for assistant and associate professors in natural sciences and in social sciences whose research focuses on communication, attitudes and policies related to natural science issues. One issue that motivated Hill is that women in academia face a gender gap in salary. Reports from organizations such as the American Association of University Professors show a gender pay gap that’s especially prominent at the full professor level. “I feel like I have been extraordinarily fortunate and did not experience some of the difficult situations that many of my friends and colleagues faced. I’ve had many advantages, and I want to share those advantages with others,” Hill said. Hill was also motivated by the work of organizations such as the American Association of University Women and the Philanthropic Educational Organization. She hopes others will be inspired to contribute to her fund, or establish similar funds at KU and other universities.

make a difference The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences invites you to take pride in all that KU has achieved and join with us to build our future.

Give online at Call 800-444-4201, ext. 316 By mail, use the envelope included in the magazine

JENNA GOODMAN, LARISA CHAMBERS, Senior Development Development Director Director and Team Lead

BRANDON WOODARD, Development Officer

ARY GUERRERO, Development Officer

KELSEY BARNES, Development Administrator



Alumnus puts veterans’ experience to use to help others William McNulty’s time on the Hill propelled him into a life lived around the world and a career as a nonprofit leader. McNulty, a 2001 graduate in economics and communication studies, is the 2017 recipient of an honorary doctorate from KU. Volunteering in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake

William McNulty

In the Marines (left)

Team Rubicon with President Obama (far right)

I was a late bloomer. I entered KU with a bare face and wide-eyed naiveté. I wanted to study economics because I thought an intricate understanding of how markets worked would make me a ruthless business mogul someday. My years at KU were transformative to say the least. Today, I have a beard and run a nonprofit. What changed? KU showed me the world. It was a melting pot with students from more than 105 countries, while I’d only ever known life within one. I left the United States for the first time to study abroad in Italy at CIMBA, a university consortium program assembled and led by KU. My econ classes also cultivated a deep fascination for the way cultural forces influence human behavior. I became obsessed with trying to understand how small changes in local markets can create ripple effects across the globe. A few days before that graduation walk down Mount Oread and into the stadium, I strolled into the Marine Corps Recruiting Station on Louisiana St. and enlisted as an infantryman, an unusual route for a college graduate. I wanted the experience of being the most junior Marine in a unit. I thought it would make me a better leader. I think the economist in me also knew that the only way to get a genuine understanding of the culture that powers the Marines would be to live it from the ground-up.


I cofounded Team Rubicon after 10 years serving in various capacities in uniform as a Marine and as a civilian intelligence officer. In 2010, my buddies and I wandered into Haiti where an earthquake had just marked the worst humanitarian crisis of our lifetimes. We were searching for a way to help. What we found in serving that community was a renewed sense of purpose, community and identity that we didn’t realize we had lost since leaving the military. This sentiment seemed to resonate with other veterans too. And as Team Rubicon began to grow, I knew that the success of our unusual business model in which veterans and disasters rebuild one another, could eventually have global reach. Thousands of non-American veterans began registering their interest with Team Rubicon. The humble operation that we built in the U.S. is now replicated in five countries around the world. This is how KU plants seeds for global change. At KU, you learn that the world is bigger than your own backyard, and that your place in it, however small it seems at first, will matter to an organization, and will matter to the world. I am humbled to be recognized by KU this spring with an honorary doctorate. That stimulus I found at KU to understand cultural nuances, to build alliances through shared experience, led me to a career that sustains my desire to serve others.

GRADUATE FROM KU ONLINE The degree your employer respects. The flexibility you need. The support you deserve. Finish your degree online and advance your career with undergraduate programs in liberal arts and sciences.

KU COLLEGIAN COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS & SCIENCES Strong Hall • 1450 Jayhawk Boulevard, Room 200 The University of Kansas • Lawrence, KS 66045-7535

Scholarships make a KU education possible for future leaders Supporting KU with your gift will benefit students now and for generations. To make a gift, please visit


KU Collegian, Spring 2017  

The KU Collegian is the annual alumni magazine of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Kansas.

KU Collegian, Spring 2017  

The KU Collegian is the annual alumni magazine of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Kansas.