Sara Shepherd (KU reporter)

As the Journal-World's Kansas University reporter, I cover all things newsworthy coming out of KU, with an emphasis on the school's 25,000-student main campus here in Lawrence. I tweet KU news @LJW_KU.

Previously, I was a cops and courts reporter for The Kansas City Star, where I covered untimely death or destruction of some kind most every day for a few years. I’ve also covered suburban city government and schools for The Star and The Shawnee Dispatch, a weekly paper just up the road. My first beat at the Journal-World was features, covering food, arts, entertainment and lifestyle.

I’m a fourth-generation graduate of Kansas University, where I majored in journalism, art history and French. To reach me, call 785-832-7187 or send email to Follow me on Twitter @saramarieshep.

Recent stories

Welcome to Jayhawkville: Virtual school district engages KU education students
Online course relies on newly launched tool for realistic scenarios, diverse school demographics
May 25, 2015
As a Kansas University student pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies, you once would have read a typewritten case study and responded to questions for your class on how to be a principal. Now, you head to Jayhawkville. The virtual town and its Jayhawkville United School District are complete with colorful maps including urban to rural schools, pictures of each building, profiles of their principals — foibles included — and graphs of demographics and test scores. By Sara Shepherd
KU expert discusses biker gangs’ similarities to extremist groups
May 24, 2015
The outlaw motorcycle gangs that started Sunday’s deadly shootout in Waco, Texas, aren’t exactly extremist groups, but they share concerning similarities, a Kansas University expert says. Such biker gangs don’t exist for the purpose of pursuing political goals, and they may not have a fully elaborated ideology. However, they’re motivated by a similar “world view.” By Sara Shepherd
Kansas universities lack firm plan for concealed guns on campus, making some anxious
Board of Regents, KU say discussions underway; fearful faculty and students talking, too
May 23, 2015
The calendar is creeping toward the date when, under Kansas law, people will be able to carry concealed guns into buildings on college campuses, even without a concealed carry permit. It’s become increasingly clear that adding security measures to block guns from all entries into all buildings is not financially or logistically feasible. Kansas University’s Lawrence campus alone has 237 buildings, and statewide there are 864, according to the Board of Regents’ most recent facilities inventory. What’s still very unclear is how KU and other schools will implement the change when it becomes effective July 1, 2017. And, at least at KU, that has some faculty and students worried. By Sara Shepherd
Regents report: Almost half of all Kansas college students taking ‘distance’ classes
01:03 p.m., May 21, 2015 Updated 10:25 p.m.
More than 45 percent of students enrolled at Kansas institutions of higher learning are taking at least one class from a distance, according to a new Board of Regents report. On Thursday, Regents vice president of academic affairs Gary Alexander presented the board with this year’s annual report for the Regents Distance Education Plan. It showed that distance education is widespread at Kansas schools and growing. By Sara Shepherd
KU Art and Design Building named for former Chancellor Chalmers
07:53 p.m., May 20, 2015 Updated 10:45 p.m.
The Kansas University Art and Design Building — dedicated in 1978, and generically called since — now has a name. And, all former KU chancellors now have buildings named in their honor. The Art and Design Building, 1467 Jayhawk Blvd., will be named for former KU Chancellor E. Laurence “Larry” Chalmers, who led KU from 1969 to 1972. By Sara Shepherd
Haskell president optimistic about reaccreditation site visit
May 17, 2015
Haskell Indian Nations University expects to get a sneak-peek, of sorts, at a draft report from its reaccreditation site visit possibly within the next two weeks. Haskell President Venida Chenault said she believes the site visit went well and is optimistic that the draft won’t contain major surprises. By Sara Shepherd
Sarah’s ‘village’: Support helps KU student with Asperger’s reach diploma
May 17, 2015
Sarah Barthell’s Kansas University graduation day fit the mold. She walked down the hill, got a sunburn on her nose. Her parents threw a backyard party, and her friends, grammy and third-grade teacher all came. There was cake, and way too many beans. Up in the stands, her mom cried when she spotted her stepping onto the football field in her cap and gown. That’s when it hit her, Susan Kraus said: Sarah’s really graduating. Her daughter’s path to this day did not fit the mold. Sarah, 33, has Asperger’s syndrome, and she’s been working toward her KU degree over the course of more than 10 years. By Sara Shepherd
2015 KU Commencement messages launch grads into future
May 17, 2015
Mystery writer and Kansas University alumna Sarah Paretsky had sharp words for terrorists, lawmakers and even the KU football team on Sunday. Paretsky, who got her undergraduate degree from KU, received an honorary doctorate degree for her contributions to the mystery writing and American literature fields and gave the keynote address during KU’s 143rd commencement ceremony in Memorial Stadium. By Sara Shepherd
KU greeks react to Sexual Assault Task Force suggestions, plan their own changes
May 16, 2015
The Kansas University Sexual Assault Task Force has recommended changes that would turn upside-down firmly-rooted fraternity and sorority practices at KU. Student greek leaders — who announced a sexual assault prevention program of their own — oppose the suggestions and say they’re miffed the task force didn’t ask for their input. A task force leader, however, cites changing greek practices as a priority in diminishing sexual assault at KU. By Sara Shepherd
Top job at KPR remains unfilled
May 16, 2015
The position of Kansas Public Radio general manager has remained open all school year, and Kansas University says hiring someone for the position is not imminent. By Sara Shepherd

Full story list

Recent photos

A page inside the 1927 Kansas Relays program advertises an "endurance run" by Tarahumara Indians, a special feature of that year's event. Pictured are Tomas Zaf, Jose Torres and Lolita Cuzarare at events in Texas. The program says the Tarahumara are "semi-civilized little 'iron' people from the mountain caves of Chihuahua, Mexico. The men will run forty-seven miles from Kansas City, and the women twenty-seven miles from Topeka, both finishing at Memorial Stadium sometime late in the afternoon. They expect to average between six and seven miles an hour."

A page in the 1928 Kansas Relays program highlights an endurance run by Tarahumara Indians, who visited Kansas University the previous year. According to the text, Thomas Zafiro (above), who finished third in the run, came onto the track just as anchor men of the college 2-mile relay began, led by Philip Osif of Haskell. "Sensing that he was being overtaken, Zafiro, who had run fifty some miles, spurted and kept up with the fresh half-milers, bringing a great cheer from the crowd." Lolita Cuzarare (below left) is pictured after finishing a 30.6-mile run from Topeka in 5 hours, 37 minutes, 45 seconds. Jose Torres (below right) is pictured with Mayor R.C. Rankin and KU Athletics Director F.C. "Phog" Allen after winning the 50.7-mile men's race from Kansas City in 6 hours, 46 minutes, 41 seconds.

Armed with laptop, coffee and a view, KU assistant professor of history Erik Scott works on a conference paper during the Faculty-Staff Day of Writing at the Sabatini Multicultural Resource Center on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015.

The photo of former KU student Joseph C. Liggett is among 129 photos of KU students and alumni who gave their lives in service to World War I, displayed on the sixth floor of the Kansas Union. Ray Liggett of Shawnee stumbled upon his great uncle's connection to KU and the war while doing genealogical research, but didn't previously know the Union was a memorial to him and other casualties. Ray Liggett said he learned that Joseph Liggett enlisted in October 1918 and died the next month. He was a member of KU's unit of the Student Army Training Corps but died in Lawrence in the influenza epidemic before he was ever deployed.

This small plaque, inscribed as a gift of the class of 1924, is displayed on the main level of the Kansas Union. It reads, "Kansas Memorial Union Building, erected in memory of the one hundred and twenty nine students and alumni of the University of Kansas who gave their lives in service in the world war." A few other World War I related wall displays appear on the sixth floor of the Union.

Full photo list