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Archive for Sunday, March 7, 2004

Fund drive for band uniforms ends on note of success

March 7, 2004

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The "Feather the Flock" campaign has ended, but Kansas University band director John Lynch says the real fun will be this fall, when the Marching Jayhawks show off their new uniforms at Memorial Stadium.

"We are pleased that the Feather the Flock campaign was successful," Lynch said. "The KU students -- current and potential -- are very excited and appreciative. We look forward to presenting the new uniforms next fall and think people will be proud when the Marching Jayhawks come down the hill."

The campaign, which ended Monday, was a joint effort of the Journal-World, KU School of Fine Arts, Topeka Jayhawk Club, KU Endowment Association and KU athletic department.

About 1,000 donors contributed $220,704.50 to the band, about $150,000 of which will go toward purchasing enough uniforms for 300 band members, allowing for significant growth in the program.

The remaining money will be used to start an endowed fund that will provide stipends for band members. The School of Fine Arts and Endowment Association will continue the fund-raising effort until the goal of $1 million is raised.

"We're extremely pleased with the generosity of all those who participated," said Dolph C. Simons Jr., editor of the Journal-World and chairman of its parent company, The World Company. "This shows the importance of the band in the eyes of alumni and fans. I'm confident the band will be restored to its former numbers and quality."

The drive hasn't been without controversy. After a prototype of the new uniform was unveiled Feb. 26, many Journal-World readers posted comments that slammed the choice of black pants, hats, shoes and gloves with the uniform. Some of those complained that the black was a departure from KU tradition in the past 25 years.

Vickie Hamilton-Smith, director of communications for the School of Fine Arts, said the committee that designed the uniform had taken those comments into consideration and was tweaking the design to make the crimson and blue stand out more.

Though she said the black pants "aren't going anywhere," she said there would be more crimson and blue in the jacket and hat, and that the hat's plume may be switched from black to another color.

"I hope the community will remember the No. 1 goal, which is to attract more students," she said. "This is the new look, the hip style, the trendy look for uniforms."

She noted the positive response Fruhauf Uniforms received about the uniform from students attending the Kansas Music Educators Assn. conference late last month in Wichita. The prototype was on display at Fruhauf's booth.

Larry Tenopir, a Topeka attorney who started the uniform drive last fall with the Topeka Jayhawk Club, said he was among the dissenters about the black uniforms at first but is no longer.

"We're really excited," Tenopir said. "It'll be interesting to have the perspective in 20 years. Suddenly this will be the traditional uniform people think about."

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