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Campus Happenings - Fall 2019
Jazz Ensemble is tops

KU Jazz Ensemble I was recognized by DownBeat magazine as the best graduate college large jazz ensemble in the country in the 42nd Annual Student Music Awards. Under the leadership of Dan Gailey, director of jazz studies and professor of music, KU students have won 27 DownBeat awards, which are among the most prestigious and competitive in jazz education. Gailey received a coveted Chancellors Club Teaching Professorship for 2017–23.

Estate gift creates scholarships for KU medical students

A $2.8 million gift from the estate of the late Alton and Helen Knechtel will provide scholarships for medical students at the KU School of Medicine. The California couple, who were native Kansans, married in 1936. Alton died in 1984 after battling Alzheimer’s disease, and Helen died in 2018. “Alton’s medical condition was probably the reason the couple chose to leave the gift to the medical school,” said Kimberley Price, of Encinitas, Calif., a family friend of Helen’s for over 40 years. “She felt she could make an impact on more people in the long run by supporting students to become doctors.”

World’s premier organist joins KU faculty

Internationally acclaimed organist Olivier Latry has been named a William T. Kemper Artist-in-Residence at the KU School of Music, beginning this fall. One of Notre Dame Cathedral’s three principal organists, Latry is professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory of Music. He has given concerts in more than 50 countries on five continents and appears regularly at prestigious venues as a soloist and with prominent orchestras around the globe. Latry will visit KU each semester for three years and will teach and perform. His appointment is made possible through a gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation.

KU grades high

In the 2020 rankings from U.S. News & World Report, the University of Kansas has 11 graduate programs in the top 10 and 48 in the top 50 among public universities. The special education program is ranked No. 1 again this year, and the local government management program remained the best among all schools for the 23rd consecutive year. KU’s part-time MBA program climbed eight spots, and the law, aerospace engineering and public affairs programs each increased their ranking.

New year, new degrees

As the 2019–20 academic year begins, the KU Edwards campus is offering several new degree programs. Beginning in fall 2019, students can earn bachelor’s degrees in environmental studies, American Sign Language & Deaf Studies, and exercise science, as well as an undergraduate certificate in strength and conditioning online.

Stunning fossil discovery

Groundbreaking work by a team of paleontologists led by KU doctoral student Robert DePalma has presented the best evidence yet to understand the cataclysmic events that wiped out 99% of life on Earth, including the dinosaurs. A treasure-trove of exquisitely preserved animal and fish fossils was discovered at a site called Tanis in North Dakota’s Hell Creek formation. Scientists can trace the fossils’ origins to just minutes after an asteroid devastated the planet some 66 million years ago. The study was published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in April.

Humanitarian recognized

KU alumna Shelly London, the leader behind the creation of, was selected to receive the 2019 Dole Humanitarian Award, presented by KU’s Department of Special Education. London was recognized for her work as the founding president emeritus of the Poses Family Foundation. In collaboration with 14 other nonprofit partners, the foundation launched, which provides free web-based resources to support the one in five individuals with learning and attention issues. London and her husband, Larry Kanter, also a KU alumnus, are longtime Jayhawks and donors to the university.

“We got a great education at KU, and everyone deserves the same,” they said. “Well beyond career preparation, a great education helps develop critical thinking and practical wisdom. And that’s what we all need for our lives, our country and our planet.”

First Forward honors

The University of Kansas has been nationally recognized for excellence in improving experiences and outcomes of first-generation college students. The Center for First-generation Student Success has named KU a First Forward institution, one of only 80 schools to receive the designation. The university will receive professional development opportunities and will benefit from engaging with peer institutions on challenges, sharing resources and best practices, and celebrating program successes.

You said it
“I recently donated to JayDoc Clinic because as a medical student, participating in the clinic was formative to me and helped shape the physician I am today and the goals I have for the future.”

Elizabeth Schepker, Brooklyn, N.Y. | M.D. 2010

“We are grateful to make regular gifts to the Comfort and Rickman awards to support the superb young men and women in KU’s ROTC programs.”

Jim Cooper, Lawrence, Kan. | bachelor’s in political science 1974

“Our motivation in creating the fund was to honor my father’s legacy of promoting Haitian culture and history. In addition to donating a portion of my father’s personal library, we felt it was important to support undergraduate and graduate travel to Haiti for field research.”

Serge Danielson-Francois | Dearborn Heights, Mich.

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