Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

KU provost’s April Fools’ Day letter announces barbecue research center, Jayhawk Boulevard swim lanes

April 1, 2013


A barbecue research center, swim lanes on Jayhawk Boulevard, fish-oil stations in all buildings: These and other measures are all in store for the Kansas University campus, according to a news-packed note from KU Provost Jeff Vitter.

Do note the date at the top, though: April 1.

Vitter's biweekly Provost eNews letter to KU students, faculty and staff Monday morning started off as it usually does, referencing KU's "Bold Aspirations" strategic plan and its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities. But then it announced quite the set of new initiatives, including:

• A new KU Center for Healthy BBQ, for multidisciplinary study of "one of the area's greatest natural resources." That one will be funded by a grant from the Gates Foundation — that's Kansas City barbecue magnate Ollie Gates, not Bill and Melinda Gates.

• Swim lanes along campus main drag Jayhawk Boulevard, to be controlled by "a series of locks similar to those in the Panama Canal" and to be used for ice skating during the winter.

• The installation of fish-oil stations in all campus buildings, because of recent KU research about the benefits of a fatty acid found within.

• Plans to move the running track from Memorial Stadium to the roof of Wescoe Hall, with "special KU zebra-striped basketball shorts" (a nod, perhaps, to the adidas camo uniforms worn by the men's team in the Big 12 Tournament?) to change into for a midday jog.

• A ban on texting while walking, a menace that, according to Vitter, is making KU's sidewalks dangerous.

• Two visits by celebrities. Jillian Michaels of "The Biggest Loser" will deliver a lecture consisting entirely of her shouting "You will make it up that hill!" outside of Anschutz Library. And "noted newscaster Seth Meyers" will provide a workshop sponsored by the School of Journalism — scheduled curiously for 10:30 p.m. Saturday, when "Saturday Night Live" airs, featuring "Weekend Update" anchor Seth Meyers.

The letter, titled "The Best Medicine," also notes a coincidence at the end: Monday happens to be April Fools' Day.

So, alas, you won't actually smell the aroma of smoked meat wafting from KU's west campus, or be able to take the elevator up to the roof of Wescoe for a nice run. Some folks on campus reported that they fell for a few of the joke proposals, though, said Gavin Young, a spokesman for the provost's office. The texting-while-walking ban, some of them said, didn't actually sound that crazy.

Vitter's note is available to read online at, under the "Provost eNews" link.


cheeseburger 5 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like the provost has plenty of extra time on his hands. I'd think someone hauling in $350,000+ per year would be busy enough with important matters.

Bob Reinsch 5 years, 1 month ago

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Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

I am disappointed, but for a different reason. I would think.someone in that position would have sufficient savoir faire to come up with something a little less sophomoric and a little more witty and clever. .

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 1 month ago

The real joke is that KU is still a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities.

Not for much longer unless KU seriously upgrades its research profile.

vuduchyld 5 years, 1 month ago

Wow...can't believe the negative commentary. I mean, I guess this is the crotchety old LJW hangout for bitter people, but I thought it was very clever. In fact, I would say that I didn't know the Provost had it in him. I'm impressed! Great stuff.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

What is so clever about it?

If you want clever, read George Plimpton's Sports Illustrated Sid Finch hoax of many years ago.

fiddleback 5 years, 1 month ago

What's funny is that you all assume that he actually wrote it--haven't you ever heard of PR officers? I thought it was overwrought with lots of flops--could have been about half as long...

Jim Williamson 5 years, 1 month ago

I find nothing funny about learning that a BBQ research institute is not actually going to happen.

EarthaKitt 5 years, 1 month ago

I thought the swim/skate lanes sounded cool.

KU_cynic 5 years, 1 month ago

Jeff Vitter, campus cutup?

Not so much.

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