Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk.
The Kansas University Alumni Association will honor two former students for their dedication to their alma mater Friday with the Fred Ellsworth Medallion.
Jennifer Sanner, the association's senior vice president of communications, called the award presentation a "gratifying family celebration."
"People treasure their KU experience so much that they have tried to help in so many ways," she said.
The recipients who consider themselves part of the KU family are Robert L. Driscoll, who received an undergraduate degree in 1961 and a law degree in 1964, and Carol Swanson Ritchie, who earned a bachelor's degree in 1954.
Driscoll is a partner in the Stinson Morrison Hecker law firm in Kansas City, Mo. He was a member and chairman of the KU Law School Board of Governors. He also served on the Alumni Association Board at various levels including national officer, from 1998 to 2006. On the board, he said he "had the privilege" of selecting and handing out Ellsworth Medallions to others.
The medallion was created in 1975 in memory of Ellsworth to recognize "unique and significant" service to KU. Ellsworth earned a bachelor's degree from KU in 1922 and served as executive secretary of the Alumni Association for 29 years until his retirement in 1963. Representatives from the chancellor's office, the Alumni and Endowment associations and Kansas Athletics choose the winners.
Though Driscoll said he feels honored, he said it also "feels a bit strange," to be a recipient this year.
"I feel that I have a debt to the university that I can never repay," he said. "This is a way to attempt repayment."
Since Ritchie and her husband Scott, a geologist, graduated from KU and moved to Wichita, she has worked to connect with other Jayhawks in her area and across the country as the former national alumni association officer.
"KU alum are family members," she said.
Ritchie, who calls herself a "professional volunteer," and a "cheerleader of KU," founded her local Jayhawk Roundup, which provides scholarships for students at the Lawrence and Wichita campuses.
Ritchie said she looks forward to returning to her "KU home" Friday. The Alumni Association is housed where her former sorority house, Alpha Chi Omega, used to be located. She also said, she was "very flattered," to be recognized for her continued support of the university.
Both award recipients are also lifelong members of the Chancellor's Club, Alumni Association and the Williams Educational Fund for Kansas Athletics.
The award ceremony is at 6 p.m. Friday at the Adams Alumni Center, 1266 Oread Ave.