Archive for Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Retired KU professor’s really old website attracts attention; KU gets $4M for deferred maintenance; Twitter account details amusing problems girls face at KU

June 21, 2011


Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, was talking recently about his first Internet experience. And as it happens, it involves a KU professor.

Way back in 1994 (or thereabouts), Madrigal had a question about microbiology and figured he’d try to find the answer online. So he fired up Netscape on the old, squeaky dial-up modem and typed “microbiology” into Yahoo. That led him right to microbiology professor Jack Brown’s page at KU. And, yes, the page still exists today.

I called Brown, who is now retired and lives in Vernon Hills, Ill. He said he was delighted to hear from Madrigal recently and to be reminded of his old site, which very much looks like it did in 1995.

“It’s a little rusty, but it’s still up,” Brown said.

He said he first interacted with Madrigal as a young boy and remembered him as very smart.

Brown said he made the page by consulting with a wide variety of people at KU, all of whom were very helpful. He wanted to post information for people who were looking for general information on the topic, which led to his “What the Heck is…” series.

Brown told me he recieved questions from all around the world in the site’s early stages, from as far away as Singapore.

“I’m glad I did it,” he said.

• I was chatting with Mark Reiske, associate director of facilities operations for KU, for a separate story on Monday, and he let me know that KU just received notice of its upcoming annual allocation for deferred maintenance.

This year, it will amount to about $4 million.

That will be enough to tackle several projects — but, as usual, is far short of the total deferred maintenance backlog at KU.

Also, this upcoming fiscal year that starts on July 1 will see the end of federal stimulus dollars, some of which had been allocated by the Kansas Board of Regents to fund deferred maintenance projects on Kansas campuses.

Reiske told me to watch for a few projects that will be undertaken using the funds: a $500,000 roof repair on Spooner Hall, much-needed masonry work at Moore Hall (a West Campus building where the Kansas Geological Survey is located), an allocation for compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act as needs arise and money to replace some laboratory fume hoods, among other projects.

So look for those sometime soon.

• And I very recently discovered what seems to be an older phenomenon on Twitter, but I thought it was amusing enough to share with those who may not have heard word.

It’s a Twitter account called “KUGirlProblems.”

Some of my favorite tweets:

“My fake tan doesn’t match my farmer’s tan.”

“Got a ticket on Mass. St. I think this cop just made up the term ‘J-Turn’ because he hates my RAV4.”

“Started my job at the Lawrence pool. Nine hours a week?! How do people do this?”

And, of course, the account has sprung up a corresponding “KUBoyProblems” as well…

• I’ll listen to all your problems in the form of tips for Heard on the Hill. Fire away at


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