Posts tagged with Ku

KU student election results now final: 56.7 percent said no to proposed Union renovation

University of Kansas spring election results are now — finally — final, and margins shared by the KU Student Senate Elections Commission show that almost 57 percent of students said no to adding a 30-year, $50-per-semester fee to pay for a $45 million Kansas Union renovation.

Voting took place April 13 and 14, and preliminary results were shared on April 14. After resolving a handful of hearings and appeals for reported elections violations, the Elections Commission formally certified election results this week.

• Voter turnout this year was 24.9 percent, according to Elections Commission compliance chair Harrison Baker. He said 5,765 students voted in the election, which, in addition to the Union referendum, decided the 2017-18 student body president and vice president and most Student Senate representatives.

• On the Union referendum, 56.7 percent of students voted no, 32.6 percent voted yes, and 10.7 percent abstained, according to results from the Elections Commission.

University of Kansas 2017-18 OneKU coalition student body presidential candidate Mady Womack (right) and vice presidential candidate Mattie Carter.

University of Kansas 2017-18 OneKU coalition student body presidential candidate Mady Womack (right) and vice presidential candidate Mattie Carter.

The loss followed a multiyear focus-group and planning process undertaken by the Union.

“I am disappointed with the outcome of the election results," Collin Cox, executive outreach director for the RedoYourU campaign, said in a statement after the election. “However, our team is committed to continuing working on these efforts to insure a future renovation.”

The Union team plans to review the election outcome "and what that fully means moving forward," according to the statement.

“In these challenging financial times for students, it’s hard to convey the complexity of a $45 million project, most of it driven by things people will never see,” David Mucci, director of the KU Memorial Union, said in the statement. “We are confident this was the optimal project with the greatest efficiency that entailed the least amount of disruption for the campus.”

• Next year’s student body president will be Mady Womack, a junior from Overland Park majoring in economics. Vice president will be Mattie Carter, a junior from Kansas City, Mo., majoring in journalism and political science. They faced an unusually crowded field, with a total of four coalitions campaigning for the student body's top spots.

Prospective University of Kansas students walk past the Kansas Union while on a walking tour of the campus, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. The Union is proposing a $45 million renovation and students will vote in the spring on whether to add a 30-year, $50 per semester fee to finance it.

Prospective University of Kansas students walk past the Kansas Union while on a walking tour of the campus, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. The Union is proposing a $45 million renovation and students will vote in the spring on whether to add a 30-year, $50 per semester fee to finance it. by Nick Krug

Womack-Carter won with 47 percent of the vote, according to results from the Elections Commission. Tomas Green and Zoya Khan of the Kunited coalition received 35 percent of the vote; Chancellor Adams and Andrew Davis of the TrueKU coalition received 12.4 percent; and Chance Maginess and logan Miller of Onward coalition received 5.7 percent.

KU’s 2017-18 Student Senate representatives met as a body for the first time Wednesday night, at a joint meeting with the outgoing administration.


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

Reply 1 comment from Clara Westphal

KU grad, Uber exec moving back to Lawrence to ‘explore politics’

One of the University of Kansas’ more well-known — and most tech savvy — alumni is moving back to Lawrence from the Silicon Valley area, and it appears he may be eyeing a political run.

Brian McClendon’s last day at Uber, where he is vice president of maps and business platform, will be March 28, according to a New York Times article published online Sunday, which McClendon shared with me via email. According to The Times, McClendon is moving back to Lawrence, his hometown, to “explore politics.”

A recent tweet from McClendon alluded to the Kansas 2nd Congressional District, which includes Lawrence and is set to be up for grabs as Rep. Lynn Jenkins has announced she will not seek reelection in the 2018 election.

“This fall’s election and the current fiscal crisis in Kansas is driving me to more fully participate in our democracy — and I want to do that in the place I call home,” McClendon said, in a statement quoted by The Times. “I believe in Uber’s mission and the many talented people working there to make it a reality and that’s why I have agreed to stay on as an adviser.”

Brian McClendon speaks Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, at "KU Elevate: Innovation in Action," a TED-style event at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. McClendon, a KU electrical engineering graduate, is vice president of advanced technologies at Uber and a former vice president at Google.

Brian McClendon speaks Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, at "KU Elevate: Innovation in Action," a TED-style event at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. McClendon, a KU electrical engineering graduate, is vice president of advanced technologies at Uber and a former vice president at Google. by Sara Shepherd

McClendon has been with Uber about two years. Previously he was a vice president at Google, where he co-founded Google Earth and made Lawrence the center of it.

McClendon graduated from Lawrence High School in 1982 and from KU in 1986, with a degree in electrical engineering. In 2015, KU awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contributions to the fields of electrical engineering and computer science. I interviewed McClendon about a year and a half ago, when he was being inducted into the National Academy of Engineering. At that time he told me that, depending how much free time he had, he tried to get back to Lawrence about four times a year. When in town he serves on advisory boards for KU’s School of Engineering and Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, visits family and likes going to KU basketball games, he said.

From left,  Brian McClendon received a Doctor of Science for outstanding contributions to fields of electrical engineering and computer science from Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little during KU's 144th graduation on Sunday, May 15, 2016.

From left, Brian McClendon received a Doctor of Science for outstanding contributions to fields of electrical engineering and computer science from Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little during KU's 144th graduation on Sunday, May 15, 2016. by Richard Gwin

In addition to tweeting about said KU basketball games, McClendon’s also been tweeting a lot about politics in recent months — including criticisms of newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration. Tweets posted late last night and today also may hint at McClendon’s political intentions once he returns?

“It's a big day for me. I've got my Kansas driver's license and am registered to vote. There's no place like home!,” one tweet says. In response to another user, McClendon also said, “I'm from Lawrence and will be living there. I definitely know where Pittsburg is. An important part of KS D2!”

None by Brian McClendon

I’m hoping to get in touch with McClendon today and ask him a few questions. If I do I’ll let you know what he says.


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

Reply 4 comments from Michael Bennett Bob Smith Dorothyhoytreed Tc2587

Paleontology grant, Latin American research awards and other January accolades from KU

Being the end of the semester, December was a particularly big month for awards at the University of Kansas. In January, KU announced one of its highest honors — an honorary degree recipient for 2017, alumnus and Marine veteran William McNulty — and a few other accolades.

Here’s a roundup of notable honors and awards KU News announced in January, that we haven’t previously published.

• Latin American field researchers: Through the Tinker Field Research Grants program, four KU graduate students recently completed international research in their respective fields, according to KU’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Mabel Alvarado Gutiérrez, doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology, visited Costa Rica to research species within the group “Neotropical Ichneumonidae.” Katelynn Giraldo, master's degree student in Latin American and Caribbean studies, visited Colombia to research resources for key decision-makers to provide educational access in Medellín’s communities. George Klaeren, doctoral student in history, traveled to Mexico to research scholarship and academic infrastructure for philosophy in colleges and universities in 18th-century New Spain. Silvia Sanchez Díaz, doctoral student in anthropology, traveled to Guatemala to investigate the history of medicine and public health institutions, and new decision-makers.

• GIS award: Eileen Battles, research project manager in GIS (geographic information system) services at KU-based Kansas Geological Survey, received the fourth annual KGS Outstanding Support Staff Recognition Award. Battles is a member of the team that operates the Kansas Data Access and Support Center, the GIS data clearinghouse for the state of Kansas. Through her work, noted Kansas Geological Survey GIS manager Ken Nelson, Battles has "set foot in just about every county across the state.”

• Paleontology grant for faraway places: KU got a $100,000 grant from the David B. Jones Foundation to help students pursue fieldwork in locations such as Wyoming and Turkey. K. Christopher Beard, distinguished foundation professor in ecology and evolutionary biology and senior curator at the KU Biodiversity Institute, is heading the work.

Sending the KU reporter to Turkey is probably a little steep for the Journal-World travel budget, but plans there sound interesting. According to KU, researchers will be piecing together ancient migration patterns of mammals in the unique Pontide region, “which researchers believe 45 million years ago was an island treasure house of biodiversity, something like today’s Madagascar.”


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

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More than 700 celebrity faces, autographs will have permanent home at KU library

Famous writers, musicians, actors, sports figures — University of Kansas associate professor of film and media studies John Tibbetts has interviewed and painted portraits of more than 700 such personalities. Those portraits, all signed by their subjects, will have a permanent home at KU’s Spencer Research Library.

KU Libraries announced this month that Tibbetts is gifting the portraits to the library through a multi-year series of donations.

Through his career as a TV and radio broadcast journalist and as a scholar at KU, Tibbetts gained interviews with hundreds of celebrities and public figures, according to KU Libraries. For more than 40 years, he created pen-and-ink and watercolor portraits of such personalities, then asked them to sign the portraits during his interviews.

John Tibbetts is pictured, along with some of the celebrity portraits he's painted and had autographed, in this 2004 Journal-World file photo. Tibbetts is an associate professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas.

John Tibbetts is pictured, along with some of the celebrity portraits he's painted and had autographed, in this 2004 Journal-World file photo. Tibbetts is an associate professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas. by Thad Allender/Journal-World Photo

The first installment given to the library will feature writers, musicians, broadcasters and sports figures — bandleader Cab Calloway, opera singers Kathleen Battle and Luciano Pavarotti, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and composer Philip Glass, among others, according to KU Libraries. Additional installments will feature film, television and theater performers.

Famous names from show business Tibbetts interviewed and painted through the years include Julie Andrews, Whoopie Goldberg, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine, Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep, Sean Connery, Spike Lee, Lauren Bacall and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A watercolor portrait of Sean Connery by John Tibbetts, associate professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas.

A watercolor portrait of Sean Connery by John Tibbetts, associate professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas.

Only one personage refused to sign his painting, Tibbetts told the Journal-World in a 2004 interview. That was Ralph Macchio — aka Daniel LaRusso of "Karate Kid." The 2004 Journal-World story also outlines how Tibbetts began painting the portraits in the first place:

Tibbetts first honed his skills rendering posters for the KU Film Society in the 1960s. It was during this stretch that he made his initial celebrity contact.

"I wanted to write Ray Bradbury for a long time, just to say thanks for all the wonderful stories I'd been reading as a kid," he recalls. "So I did a drawing of him (in 1966) and sent it to him with no expectation of what would happen. It came back to me, beautifully inscribed with a letter, which has initiated a correspondence which has lasted almost 40 years."

In the mid-1980s, the film critic began to spend weekends traveling to the coasts to gather in-person interviews for his various outlets. He started to explore the idea of painting stars and presenting them with the product.

"It was a way of connecting with people," he says. "It shows them that I am interested in them and put out something with my own energies to say 'thank you' or 'I'm interested to meet you.'"

Tibbetts’ paintings will join about 140 of his television interviews currently available online through KU ScholarWorks, kuscholarworks.ku.edu. Once catalogued, the paintings will be viewable by request in the Spencer Research Library reading room.

“They are a part of my life, almost my biography,” Tibbetts said, in the KU Libraries announcement, “and I hope others will enjoy the experience of the interviews, including the paintings and audio.”


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

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KU’s Multicultural Student Government proposing new path to governing-body status

The University of Kansas student organization that calls itself Multicultural Student Government is still active this semester, and is now trying a new path in hopes of becoming a separate governing body with standing equal to KU’s existing Student Senate.

On Thursday, MSG leaders asked the University Senate to establish an ad hoc committee to explore the feasibility of an actual Multicultural Student Government and, if deemed appropriate, change University Senate code to include it. Per University Senate code — which allows just one governing body per each university constituency — the current University Senate comprises representatives from Student Senate, Faculty Senate and Staff Senate.

University Senate voted to table the question until its December meeting.

Sophie Wang, a Student Senate representative on the University Senate, formally proposed the MSG committee at the end of Thursday’s meeting, during the new business portion of the agenda. The item was not on the meeting agenda, and University Senate members did not receive information about MSG or their proposal in advance. University Senate members said they wanted more time to look at the group’s information and discuss it before deciding whether to create a committee.

Wang was joined by three of MSG’s top leaders, who spoke on behalf of the proposal.

MSG has fashioned its leadership positions after those of a governing body, with a board instead of typical club officer positions, said Omaha senior Alex Kinkead, vice chair of the MSG board. Other board members present were Emporia senior Mercedes Bounthapanya, board treasurer, and Wichita senior Christian Roberson, board secretary. Student Trinity Carpenter, who wasn't present Thursday, is the MSG board chair and also a School of Social Welfare representative on Student Senate.

“We’re coming to University Senate because we’d like to work with you in tandem and have conversations,” Kinkead said. “We are a legit entity, and we are functioning as a student government. The only thing we are not is functioning within the University Senate.”

Kinkead said a separate governing body is needed because the current university governance system inherently oppresses students from marginalized backgrounds who don’t “access spaces” the same way other students do.

“We have significantly less barriers and hoops that multicultural students have to jump through,” Kinkead said of MSG. “We’re centering marginalized identities and multicultural groups.”

In spring 2016, Student Senate voted to allocate about $180,000 in required student fees — $90,000 to pay officers and fund other operations, plus another $90,000 to disseminate to other multicultural student groups — to establish and empower MSG, which had just registered as a student club. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little vetoed that funding because MSG was not actually a recognized governing body. She added, in a letter explaining the veto, that she did not think MSG was “an optimal way to achieve the goals we have for diversity and inclusion at the university and, indeed, may lead to greater divisiveness.”

Speaking to the Kansas University Student Senate, Jameelah Jones is joined by dozens of students and supporters of the Multicultural Student Government initiative during the Student Senate's meeting Wednesday evening March 9, 2016, at the Kansas Union.

Speaking to the Kansas University Student Senate, Jameelah Jones is joined by dozens of students and supporters of the Multicultural Student Government initiative during the Student Senate's meeting Wednesday evening March 9, 2016, at the Kansas Union. by John Young


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

Reply 1 comment from Reid Hollander

Postcard from KU: Photos of major things being built, dug up while you’re away for the summer

For the Kansas University community members who’ve left campus for the summer, here are just a few snapshots of what’s going on construction-wise while you’re away.

This should enable you a glimpse of the unusually high amount of construction activity without having to maneuver the labyrinth that is campus with all its summer road closures and dead ends — or hiking up the hill in the seemingly incessant heat advisories we’ve had lately in Lawrence.

Framing is up on the EEEC building, which is dramatically going to change the look of the corner of 15th and Naismith. It used to be a parking lot.

Construction on KU's new Earth, Energy and Environment Center, or EEEC, on the northeast corner of 15th Street and Naismith Drive, is pictured on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Adjacent to Lindley Hall, the building — featuring two towers, Ritchie Hall and Slawson Hall — is scheduled for completion in fall 2017.

Construction on KU's new Earth, Energy and Environment Center, or EEEC, on the northeast corner of 15th Street and Naismith Drive, is pictured on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Adjacent to Lindley Hall, the building — featuring two towers, Ritchie Hall and Slawson Hall — is scheduled for completion in fall 2017. by Sara Shepherd

This is the vacant field on Daisy Hill formerly home to McCollum Hall. Look close and you can see curbs for a parking lot taking shape.

Debris has been hauled off and crews are working to build a parking lot in the space on Daisy Hill where McCollum Hall once stood, pictured Wednesday, July 6, 2016.

Debris has been hauled off and crews are working to build a parking lot in the space on Daisy Hill where McCollum Hall once stood, pictured Wednesday, July 6, 2016. by Sara Shepherd

There’s a lot of activity in KU’s Central District where the old Burge Union used to be, just west of Anschutz Sports Pavilion. This sea of dirt will eventually be home to a new student union, an integrated science building and a parking garage.

Construction in KU's Central District is pictured Wednesday, July 6, 2016. This area will be home to a new student union and integrated science building.

Construction in KU's Central District is pictured Wednesday, July 6, 2016. This area will be home to a new student union and integrated science building. by Sara Shepherd

Concrete has been poured for the new Central District residence and dining hall, going up behind Oliver Hall. (There’s also a new student apartment complex going up at 19th and Ousdahl, but with 19th Street closed and construction fences blocking the area from the other side, I couldn’t very well get over there to see its status.)

Work has begun on the new residence and dining hall behind Oliver Hall on the KU campus, pictured Wednesday, July 6, 2016.

Work has begun on the new residence and dining hall behind Oliver Hall on the KU campus, pictured Wednesday, July 6, 2016. by Sara Shepherd

Finally, Memorial Drive is out of commission this summer as crews work to reconstruct it, along with the portion of West Campus Road just past the Chi Omega Fountain.

The Memorial Drive reconstruction project is pictured Wednesday, July 6, 2016.

The Memorial Drive reconstruction project is pictured Wednesday, July 6, 2016. by Sara Shepherd


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

Reply 2 comments from Daniel Kennamore Clara Westphal

Plaintiff adds new complaints against KU coach in Jayhawker Towers rape lawsuit

Former Kansas University rower Daisy Tackett has added a couple of new allegations to her lawsuit against KU, in which she said a football player raped her in Jayhawker Towers and that KU failed to comply with Title IX after she reported the incident. Specifically the new accusations take aim at the KU rowing coach and his “history of Title IX gender discrimination.”

Title IX is the federal law prohibiting gender-based discrimination in education, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. Tackett, in her suit, says KU took too long to investigate her rape report and allowed her attacker to intimidate her on campus and her rowing coach to retaliate against her after she reported, in October 2015, about a year after the incident occurred (and about the same time fellow KU rower Sarah McClure — who also has since sued KU under the name Jane Doe 7 — reported to KU that the same football player had raped her).

Tackett's new filing says KU knew that rowing coach Rob Catloth systematically denied her opportunities to participate on the rowing team after she reported her rape, and that KU knew of Catloth's prior gender-based discrimination against female rowers, specifically inappropriately calling them “fat.” On Friday, Tackett filed amendments to her original complaint saying that:

• KU officials had actual knowledge that, prior to October 2015, KU medical staff had attempted to implement a policy requiring Coach Catloth to refer female rowing teams members to a nutritionist if he viewed their weight as a performance issue, instead of calling them “fat.”

• KU officials had actual knowledge that Coach Catloth was not abiding by the policy.

• KU officials, including Debbie Van Saun, the administrator who was supposed to have the duty to monitor Title IX compliance and gender equity, chose not to make Coach Catloth comply with the policy.

KU has moved to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that university isn’t liable unless it’s aware of ongoing peer-on-peer sexual harassment and remains “deliberately indifferent” to it. KU investigated and ultimately expelled the football player.

In addition to the amendments Tackett filed Friday, she also responded to KU’s motion to dismiss. Tackett, who withdrew from KU early in the spring 2016 semester before the football player was expelled, says the harassment she experienced was “severe and offensive” enough to deprive her of her educational opportunity.

“This is not a quibble with the punishment KU ultimately agreed to dole out to this KU football player (after permitting him to finish out the football season); it is a critique of KU’s failure to implement specific available options to protect Daisy Tackett on campus and indeed the other women forced to bear the cost of KU’s deliberate indifference,” wrote her attorneys, Sarah Brown and Dan Curry of Brown and Curry LLC in Kansas City, Mo.

KU is expected to file another response later this summer, before the court rules on whether to dismiss or proceed with the lawsuit, according to federal court records.

Daisy Tackett

Daisy Tackett


• In K-State Title IX lawsuit news: The federal government, in “statement of interest” documents filed Friday, has come down hard against K-State’s argument that it’s not responsible for investigating student-on-student rape at off-campus fraternity houses. (Two women have sued K-State, both saying they were raped at fraternities but that K-State refused to investigate their reports.)

The New York Times has a full story here. I read the filing in the Weckhorst case, and it’s quite clear that the authors — including U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division attorneys and U.S. Department of Education attorneys — think K-State was in the wrong by claiming the fraternity houses are outside its jurisdiction for sexual violence investigations. They spend nearly 40 pages explaining why.


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

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One made national news, another sued — how many other KU faculty lose their appointments each year?

You don’t normally hear much about the junior faculty members who don’t get tenure and, basically, subsequently disappear from Kansas University after just a couple years on the Hill.

This semester was different.

Two assistant professors didn't get reappointed and made the news: Andrea Quenette in communication studies, because her non-reappointment came after she’d been all over national media (following the Journal-World’s reports, of course) for saying the N-word during a class discussion, and Catherine Joritz in film and media studies, because she filed a lawsuit against KU over her non-reappointment.

That made me wonder how many faculty members this happens to each year. Were they the only ones? Are there dozens each year, or more? I filed a records request to find out, asking KU for lists from the past three years. (Details about the reviews would not be available because they’re personnel issues, but under KU’s policy on promotion and tenure, the chancellor’s final decision on these matters is public.)

I learned that Quenette and Joritz were not the only faculty to be notified of non-reappointment this year, but they were among just a handful. Four total faculty were notified this spring that they would not be reappointed, according to the list I got back from KU. In spring 2015, there were three. In spring 2014, there were four. (I did check Douglas County court records, incidentally, and Joritz is the only one to have sued KU.)

Faculty typically undergo a progress toward tenure review during their third year at KU, according to KU’s policy on promotion and tenure. On average 49 faculty per year, for the past three years, went through such reviews, according to university spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson.

For those that aren’t let go through non-reappointment, there are two other possible outcomes of progress toward tenure reviews, Barcomb-Peterson said. Faculty either continue their tenure-track appointment or are scheduled for a probationary review in the next year.

Non-reappointed faculty don’t lose their jobs immediately. Depending how long they’ve worked at the university, they’ll continue being employed from three months to more than a year after they’ve been notified of non-reappointment, according to KU's policy. Quenette, for example, will continue to be employed by KU through the 2016-17 school year, although when I talked to her for the last story we did, she was still unsure what duties she’d be assigned for spring 2017.

A few more related bits from KU’s policy:

Ultimately, pursuant to Kansas Board of Regents policy, the probationary period for tenure track faculty may not exceed seven years. The sixth year is their “mandatory review year,” so if a faculty member does not receive tenure the seventh year becomes his or her last. If a faculty member is denied tenure during the mandatory review year, that constitutes a decision of non-reappointment.

Some Kansas University students filed a discrimination complaint with KU against assistant professor Andrea M. Quenette, who they accused of using racist language, in November 2015.

Some Kansas University students filed a discrimination complaint with KU against assistant professor Andrea M. Quenette, who they accused of using racist language, in November 2015. by Mike Yoder

• Non-reappointed prof in NYT: Speaking of Andrea Quenette being in national news, just this week she made another prominent appearance. Quenette is in the lead of a New York Times article posted online Wednesday with the headline “Studies in the First Amendment, Playing Out on Campus.”

The story begins: “Ask Andrea M. Quenette if she thinks that colleges and universities are doing a good job refereeing the debate over free speech, and she’ll respond with an emphatic ‘no.’”

The article goes on to discuss the background of Quenette’s case, results of polls asking students about “trigger warnings” and their support of free speech on campus, and free speech disputes at several other universities.


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage at KUToday.com. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

Reply 3 comments from Jennifer Forth Clara Westphal Squenette

A broken window already at the brand new DeBruce Center — a more scientific explanation of what happened

My Tuesday post about the broken glass pane at Kansas University’s new DeBruce Center being attributed to shifting seems to have caused some alarm. KU Memorial Union and construction people felt like a more scientific explanation was needed.

Here goes.

The building isn’t sinking and falling down (which certainly would be alarming), but rather the breakage probably resulted from expansions and contractions on a much more minute level. Lisa Kring, KU Memorial Unions director of building services, said a flaw in the glass is the likely culprit.

In the glass world this kind of failure is referred to as “spontaneous glass breakage,” though technically there is a cause.

A shattered glass pane on the Naismith Drive side of Kansas University's DeBruce Center is pictured Monday, June 20, 2016.

A shattered glass pane on the Naismith Drive side of Kansas University's DeBruce Center is pictured Monday, June 20, 2016. by Sara Shepherd

According to a couple articles that I read (here's one, another and another), such shattering for no apparent reason can stem from a tiny (smaller than a tenth of a millimeter) flaw in the glass called a nickel sulfide inclusion. The impurity can weaken the glass enough to make it susceptible to even slight pressures that wouldn’t affect a pane of glass without such an imperfection.

Bob Rombach of KU Design and Construction Management, the special project manager for DeBruce, said such pressures could include expansion or contraction due to heat, or even one of the bolts holding the pane in place being a little bit too tight. (I think it’s fair to assume that building shifting, should it occur, also would put a flawed glass pane over the edge.)

“The reason why it failed is a little bit of a mystery,” Rombach said. “Every once in a while one of them will fail. It’s covered under warranty, and it gets replaced.”

Rombach said the panel broke about a week ago and that it was removed Wednesday morning. Each panel is double-paned, so there’s still one pane of intact glass in the space. Since each panel is custom made, it will take nine weeks or more to get a new one shipped and put in. Rombach said they followed the same process for the other panel that shattered, during the building’s construction.

A shattered glass pane on the Naismith Drive side of Kansas University's DeBruce Center is pictured Monday, June 20, 2016.

A shattered glass pane on the Naismith Drive side of Kansas University's DeBruce Center is pictured Monday, June 20, 2016. by Sara Shepherd

As for other buildings on campus with the same type of glass, Rombach said he was unaware of any. While sketches for the new Central District student union and integrated science buildings show buildings with large sections of glass, Rombach said it’s highly unlikely they’ll use the same fancy glass, from a company called Novum, and “structural glazing” installation system as the DeBruce Center — which makes it look like a glass box instead of just a building with big glass windows.

“This was a donor building,” Rombach said. “The donor wanted a very special Kauffman Center (for the Performing Arts), museum-level of construction,” he said. “It’s high-end stuff.”

The $21.7 million DeBruce Center, all donor-funded, opened in April at 1647 Naismith Drive, connected to Allen Fieldhouse. The building houses James Naismith’s original rules of “Basket Ball.”

I did call J.E. Dunn Construction Co., which built the Kauffman Center, to ask if they'd had breakage problems with the all-glass portion of the building. A company spokeswoman said a small percentage of glass failure due to nickel sulfide inclusion is expected, but that the Kauffman Center has had only a couple panels break since construction was completed in 2011.

Hopefully DeBruce didn't end up with a bad batch of glass or something. Time will tell. Let me know if you see any more broken windows.


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage at KUToday.com. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

Reply 1 comment from Michael Kort

A broken window already at the brand new DeBruce Center — what happened?

UPDATE: KU construction officials say "spontaneous glass breakage" is actually to blame. Click here to read more.


When a building is entirely made of sleek glass panels, it’s pretty obvious when one of them is not like the others. So the large shattered panel on probably the most prominent wall of Kansas University’s DeBruce Center, indeed, sticks out like a sore thumb.

I heard from a couple friends who visited DeBruce with family over Father's Day weekend, spotted the broken window and wondered what happened.

I worked in downtown Kansas City, Mo., when The Kansas City Star’s new all-glass press plant opened, as well as the glass bowl that is the Sprint Center. Both have had multiple windows suspected of being shot out by vandals who apparently couldn’t resist temptation.

Fortunately (I think most would agree, at least from a public safety standpoint) that’s not what happened to the DeBruce Center.

A shattered glass pane on the Naismith Drive side of Kansas University's DeBruce Center is pictured Monday, June 20, 2016. The building settling caused the pane to break, and it should be replaced in a few weeks, according to the center director.

A shattered glass pane on the Naismith Drive side of Kansas University's DeBruce Center is pictured Monday, June 20, 2016. The building settling caused the pane to break, and it should be replaced in a few weeks, according to the center director. by Sara Shepherd

“It’s not vandalism, it’s not anything hitting it, it’s the building shifting and settling,” DeBruce Center director Curtis Marsh said.

While “frustrating,” he said, this is something builders indicated was a possibility, although not an expected one. Joints between the large glass panels — Marsh and I are guesstimating each panel is about 12 feet tall and 5 or 6 feet wide — are made to withstand a fair amount of shifting, he said, but apparently there was enough to push this panel beyond its limits.

Marsh said the same thing has happened once before, before the building opened.

As part of the contract with the builder, crews should be out to replace the pane in the next few weeks, Marsh said. In the meantime, there are orange cones and safety tape to keep people from walking directly below it. Marsh said there’s a safety glass-like coating designed to keep the panes together but that the cones are there as an extra precautionary measure.

A shattered glass pane on the Naismith Drive side of Kansas University's DeBruce Center is pictured Monday, June 20, 2016. The building settling caused the pane to break, and it should be replaced in a few weeks, according to the center director.

A shattered glass pane on the Naismith Drive side of Kansas University's DeBruce Center is pictured Monday, June 20, 2016. The building settling caused the pane to break, and it should be replaced in a few weeks, according to the center director. by Sara Shepherd

The $21.7 million DeBruce Center, all donor-funded, opened in April at 1647 Naismith Drive, connected to Allen Fieldhouse. The building houses James Naismith’s original rules of “Basket Ball.”


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage at KUToday.com. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

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