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Campus Happenings — Spring 2024
Alumni honor longtime KU Libraries administrator

Cliff and Sue Haka are very appreciative of the education and mentoring they received as students at KU. More than 35 years after Cliff worked at Watson Library and Sue received her Ph.D., they have made a gift to honor the late James Ranz, dean of KU Libraries from 1975 to 1990. The gift supported the naming of the Dean James Ranz Administrative Suite, which houses much of KU Libraries leadership team. Ranz’s influence on Cliff prepared him to successfully lead Michigan State University Libraries for more than two decades. Sue was a Distinguished Professor of Accounting at Michigan State and elected president of the American Accounting Association. “We are grateful that Cliff and Sue kept KU Libraries in their hearts long after they moved on to great career endeavors and achievements,” said Carol Smith, dean of KU Libraries.

New KU bookstore campaign supports students

A new initiative at the KU Bookstore seeks to alleviate financial barriers for students by providing essential resources such as textbooks and supplies. The Carroll Edwards KU Bookstore Student Course Materials Fund presents a unique opportunity for the Jayhawk community to contribute to student success. An anonymous donor created the fund in memory of KU professor Carroll Edwards and has made a generous pledge to match funds up to $50,000, so gifts will have double the impact. There are two ways to support the campaign. Shop at the KU Bookstore and round up your purchase to the nearest dollar amount or make a tax-deductible donation by visiting

Brian McClendon named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Brian McClendon, Google Earth creator and KU research professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, was named among the 162 academic inventors in the National Academy of Inventors 2023 Class of Fellows. Election as a fellow is the highest professional distinction awarded exclusively to inventors. McClendon received his bachelor’s in electrical engineering from KU in 1986 and holds 40 patents. Fellows are exceptional researchers and innovators known for the societal and economic impact of their inventions, contributing to major advancements in science and consumer technologies. McClendon is the sixth faculty member to be named a fellow while at KU, joining Mark Shiflett, Cory Berkland, Raghunath Chaudhari, Val Stella and Bala Subramaniam.

Kelly Matsunaga receives prestigious NSF award

Kelly Matsunaga, Thomas N. Taylor Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and assistant curator of paleobotany, has been recognized with a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation. Matsunaga and her research team will study how conifers, which include pines, junipers and redwoods, have evolved during the last 300 million years. The five-year, $946,000 grant will allow the College to offer a new course in plant anatomy and development and create additional research opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. A new exhibit in the KU Natural History Museum will also be developed based on this research. The award is the NSF’s most prominent award for early-career faculty.

Architecture students build shade structure for Lawrence elementary school

A KU architecture class partnered with Lawrence’s Hillcrest Elementary School to construct a shade structure on one of the first fully accessible playgrounds in Kansas. Students in professor Keith Van de Riet’s design-build studio course created an 800-square foot pavilion and accompanying rain garden at the Ryan Gray Playground for All. The third-year architecture majors had only four months for construction and installation, which was completed in December. The playground, which opened in 1993, honors Ryan Gray, a former Hillcrest student with disabilities who was a good luck charm for the 1988 KU men’s basketball national championship team. Gray died in 1990. The playground was renovated in 2016 and at the time was considered the first fully accessible playground in the state.

Landon Center on Aging examines how to fall safely

Researchers at the Landon Center on Aging at KU Medical Center are recruiting volunteers to fall on demand to understand the best ways for older people to take a tumble without sustaining serious injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in adults aged 65 and older. While it’s impossible to prevent every fall in the real world, Jacob Sosnoff, Ph.D., associate dean for research at KU School of Health Professions, and his team are discovering techniques to teach those at risk to fall safely. More than 14 million older adults report falling each year, and about 37% of those injuries require medical treatment.

Donors give more than $2.6 million on One Day. One KU. to fuel the next big idea

The seventh annual One Day. One KU. 24-hour day of giving on March 6 underscored the collective impact of Jayhawks around the globe coming together to support the University of Kansas community. Under the inspiring theme of “the next BIG IDEA starts here,” a total of $2,610,624 from 5,031 gifts was raised. These contributions, which ranged from $5 to $250,000, will support learning, discovery and community outreach for students, faculty and staff across all five KU campuses, affiliates and The University of Kansas Health System. More than 3,700 donors from all 50 states and 11 countries united on this year’s giving day.
“We are so grateful to the many donors who shared their passion for the university on this year’s giving day and inspired others to join in support of KU,” said KU Endowment President Dan Martin.

KU Research is breaking records

Research funding at the University of Kansas surged by more than 20% in 2023, hitting a high of $368.6 million. This means additional opportunities for faculty and students to be engaged in discovery that benefits Kansans and our society. Last year alone, externally funded research at KU supported the salaries of 4,372 people, and the university spent $78.9 million in 97 Kansas counties on research-related goods and services, according to a report from the Institute for Research on Innovation & Science.

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Issue 38
Spring 2024
In this Spring 2024 issue, we meet faculty and student researchers who are uncovering clues about how organisms change, learn about exciting brain health developments at the KU ADRC, experience a unique study abroad program and get to know inspiring KU students, faculty and alumni.
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A New Narrative for Brain Health
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