Chancellor Robert Hemenway says the number of National Merit Scholars at KU -- 301 -- is a good measure of the quality of the university.
When more than half of the National Merit Scholars at Kansas University gather on the Memorial Stadium field at halftime today, one will definitely stand out.
He'll be the one dressed like a giant Jayhawk.
Jerry Pauly, a sophomore in computer engineering from Denton, is among the 157 National Merit Scholars scheduled to be on the field for the ceremony.
Pauly wears the big Jayhawk costume at football and basketball games.
"To be honest, I do believe it's a great honor," Pauly said of being named a merit scholar. "It shocked me when I got it."
Heavily recruited as a high school student, Pauly said his first choice was always KU.
"I've always been a giant, giant KU fan," he said. "KU has been my heart."
There are a total of 301 National Merit Scholars at KU, and 101 of them are freshmen who enrolled at the university this semester.
Chancellor Robert Hemenway said the success KU has had in recruiting merit scholars reflects the quality of students attending the university.
"The KU student body is getting better every year," Hemenway said. "We think the key to the university getting better every year is to have a better student body."
Hemenway will speak to the scholars and family members at a brunch at 11 a.m. today in the Kansas Union. Dolph C. Simons Jr., chairman of the KU Endowment Association, also will speak at the brunch. Simons is the editor and publisher of the Lawrence Journal-World.
After the brunch the National Merit Scholars will attend the KU-Baylor game. At least 750 family members will be in the stands to see their relatives honored.
The number of National Merit Scholars at KU enrolling as freshmen has grown from 38 in 1995 to 101 this year.
National Merit Scholars represent the top 1 percent of high school students in the United States.
-- Erwin Seba's phone message number is 832-7145. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.