Welcome Home

New Jayhawk Welcome Center will greet students past, present and future with incomparable views and countless stories



The ever-changing yet nostalgic story of the University of Kansas will have a new first paragraph with the opening of the Jayhawk Welcome Center on the Lawrence campus in fall 2022.

The $21 million Jayhawk Welcome Center, funded entirely with private gifts, will provide prospective students and their families with an introduction to KU worthy of the institution’s 156-year history of excellence.

Construction of the 30,000-square-foot structure is underway on the north side of the K.S. “Boots” Adams Alumni Center at 1266 Oread Ave. The project includes the renovation of the Adams Alumni Center, which opened in 1983. The two buildings will be seamlessly connected with the help of physical renovation and digital storytelling technology. When it is completed in 2022, the Welcome Center will be the starting point for all campus visits by prospective students and their families. It also will house approximately 20 members of the KU Admissions staff.

The new center will have space to highlight campus life; stories of Jayhawk career successes, research and innovation; history and traditions; and KU’s global reach through virtual exhibits and interactive displays. A two-story lobby display will feature personalized greetings, videos, slideshows and social media feeds.

Since 1999, campus visits have begun at the KU Visitor Center, the remodeled first floor of Templin Hall on Daisy Hill. Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment, said donors recognized the need to have a new starting place for visitors and prospective students in order to recruit the next generation of Jayhawks.

“KU is ready to make this move,” Seuferling said. “As alumni reflect on their first impressions of KU, they immediately embrace the concept of a welcome center on Jayhawk Boulevard.”

That prime spot, right at the entrance to campus, lighted a fire of enthusiasm for many donors.

Don and Kay Brada of Lawrence have been involved with the project since the beginning. They were part of early discussions about how to provide more space in the Adams Alumni Center to the Student Alumni Network, which has grown into the largest student group on campus with several thousand members. Eventually the idea grew into the Welcome Center, which had the needed space and, more importantly, the location.

“The Welcome Center should be in the heart of campus,” Kay Brada said. “That’s the most exciting part. When students come here to be welcomed, they’re right on Jayhawk Boulevard. They have the beautiful view. If that doesn’t sell you, nothing will.”

The project checked a lot of boxes for Mike Berkley of Salina, who gathered siblings, their children and nieces and nephews to make a group gift in the Berkley family name. The gift honored Mike’s parents, Jack and Pauline Berkley, as well as his late sister Arliene Matthews; late brothers Jack, Robert and Jerry; and remaining brothers Paul, Hal and Don.

CONSTRUCTION VIEWS: The Jayhawk Welcome Center is scheduled to open in fall 2022. Construction will take place throughout 2021 and 2022, and the Adams Alumni Center will remain closed during that time.
Visit www.jayhawkwelcomecenter.org for updates and a live construction cam!

 

Berkley estimates more than 50 family members are KU alumni, and they studied everything from business and accounting to education, law and medicine. “All those factions made it hard to come to an agreement on how to make a gift as a group,” he said.

Burke Matthews, Arliene’s son, said the Welcome Center was something on which all family members agreed. “The building will be a center point for every student coming to KU; they will all be going through it,” Matthews said. “That was the common denominator needed for everyone to want to be a part of it.”

Student recruitment and increasing enrollment were driving factors behind the Welcome Center. As competition for academically talented students continues to grow, the campus visit is among the most important aspects in choosing a college.

Matt Melvin, KU’s vice provost for enrollment management, said that while quality and affordability are rational drivers of college choice, the campus visit captures the emotional drivers of “fit and feel.”

“We want students to come to campus and say, ‘This is a place where I can see myself changing the trajectory of my life,’” Melvin said.

The Bradas liked the inclusion of the Office of Admissions at the Welcome Center, knowing it would attract future students. They also thought it was important to stay connected to the Alumni Association as a way to capitalize on KU’s past. And the center gives current students a place to meet, study and reflect.

“We could see a flow all the way through,” Don Brada said. “We could pretty easily see future students and current students in the building, and how the space would create a bridge with the Adams Alumni Center. It brings the past, present and future together.”

Michelle Strickland
 


 

DONOR SUPPORT

The generosity and vision of many have made what started as a casual conversation into the reality of the Jayhawk Welcome Center. The project is being made possible with support from dedicated donors and continues with significant renovations to the existing Adams Alumni Center.

KU Alumni and KU Endowment seek donors to fund the remaining $3 million in renovation and technology costs. To learn more about opportunities to support the project, contact Keon Stowers at 785-832-7483 or