Hoping to forge new relationships with alumni, and invite one prominent Jayhawk back to campus, Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little plans to travel to Colombia next week.
During her trip, she intends to meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and invite him back to KU.
Santos, who graduated from KU in 1973 with degrees in business and economics, has expressed an interest in returning to his alma mater, Gray-Little said.
Jeff Weinberg, an assistant to the chancellor who will accompany her on the trip, said Santos expressed an interest in not only returning to give a speech but also in meeting with his Delta Upsilon fraternity brothers.
Gray-Little, who also has traveled to England and South Korea during her tenure as chancellor, said she looks forward to the trips, which usually help her gain a new appreciation of what alumni love about KU.
“It gives me a broader, deeper perspective of KU and what the university has meant to them,” Gray-Little said.
In some ways, the international trips aren’t that different from her trips to Dallas, Chicago and Salina, she said, and they have similar goals. She will also look for new partnerships the university can forge with other universities and meet with other alumni.
They include Juan Mario Acevedo, president of the insurance brokerage company Correcol Colombianos de Seguros S.A.; J. Guimer Dominguez, president of Occidental Petroleum of Colombia; and Rafael Santos Calderon, cousin of the president and co-publisher of the family’s newspaper, El Tiempo.
The trip is estimated to cost $8,300 for Gray-Little and Weinberg and will be paid for with private funds. They will leave for the capital city of Bogota on March 16 and plan to catch a late flight out of the country on March 19.
The cost of the international travel is balanced by the benefit of meeting prominent alumni, Weinberg said.
“There’s no way to overemphasize the importance of these people meeting the chancellor,” he said.
And the cost is also often repaid in donations that come from the trips.
During the South Korea trip, for example, an alumnus simply walked up to them and gave an unsolicited donation that approached six figures, Weinberg said.