Posts tagged with Ku

Outtakes from Wednesday’s Student Senate meeting: More on Multicultural Student Government talks and visitors from Mizzou

Wednesday night’s Kansas University Student Senate meeting was six and a half hours long.

At least it wasn’t dull.

In the most significant news of the night, the Senate voted to approve a bill allocating $90,000 a year in required student fees to create a Multicultural Student Government at KU, pending final approval by the chancellor. After a couple hours of discussion, that vote happened at 11 p.m., just in time for me to turn around a story for the next morning’s paper. (The Senate took two more hours to finish other business, including electing a new student body vice president to finish the year.)

As with other discussions at KU involving race this year, that one was tense at times. Here are some outtakes that didn’t make it into my main story.

• About 50 visitors — almost all of them black, most KU students — lined up in support of the Multicultural Student Government as students Jameelah Jones and Katherine Rainey made a pitch for funding their organization.

Senate, of course, is open to any student, and the Multicultural Student Government would be open to any student as well. But Jones and Rainey said the separate government was needed because multicultural students don’t feel comfortable participating in or speaking up in the predominantly white Senate, nor does it prioritize the things these students need.

At one point Student Body President Jessie Pringle asked the 50 visitors how many would run for positions in a new Multicultural Student Government. All raised their hands. Then she asked how many would participate in the current Senate. Only one or two raised hands.

• Informal talks about a Multicultural Student Government have been happening for months; creating such a group was one of 15 demands the student activist group Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk — specifically, Rainey — read on stage during KU’s universitywide town hall forum on race in November. Funding for it was added to the Senate’s fee bill in committee last week, and Wednesday night was the first time the full Senate heard a formal presentation, the second-to-last full Senate meeting of the year.

Jones and Rainey presented their new group’s mission statement, addressed a list of misconceptions they described as “the master narrative versus reality,” and said the new organization would help address a “multigenerational, long-term problem.” They provided a slide showing how the group’s allotted $90,000 would be budgeted: $48,000 for executive board stipends; $10,000 for speakers and event programming; $10,000 for Multicultural Student Orientation; $15,000 for supplies and advertising; and $7,000 for miscellaneous expenses. They said the new government would have “equal representation in all university spaces” and “equal seats in campus fee review.”

KU Multicultural Student Government mission statement.

KU Multicultural Student Government mission statement. by Sara Shepherd

What they did not present or answer questions about yet was specifically how that will shake out, logistically. Rainey said that, to her, the question of the night wasn’t about details at this point but rather about whether the Senate wanted to increase fees to create positive, long-term change for KU’s multicultural students.

Some, however, called the act of questioning a race issue. Senate finance committee chairman Tyler Childress said he didn’t remember senators questioning other new student organizations about details such as their bylaws. Student Senate Chief of Staff Adam Moon said that wasn’t true, that Senate does ask groups receiving large amounts of money, including Alternative Spring Breaks and Center for Community Outreach, for detailed plans.

• The people who seemed the maddest about such questioning weren’t the KU students. They were a handful of black University of Missouri students who said they were part of the Concerned Student 1950 activist group. (That’s the group that started the Mizzou campus protests that spurred the resignation of both the university president and the system chancellor in November.)

One Mizzou student who said she was visiting KU for the first time told Senate members to start “centering your privilege.” “This whole presentation, what they gave, is like a form of oppression,” she said. “They don’t need to come to you and explain why their blackness, their brownness, matters. I just find it very problematic that we’re even engaging in this conversation.”

Another Mizzou student used the n-word — twice — in describing how the Missouri Students Association President, who is black, was called that word on their campus. He said Multicultural Student Government supporters should not have to “diplomatically plead” with the Senate to have a separate space. “If they were to turn into us,” the Mizzou student said, “you all would have a serious problem.”

None by Alex Robinson

Later when Student Body Vice President Zach George raised a point of order for a speaker talking out of turn, that student said, “We don’t operate under point of order, we’re not from KU.”

• A number of Senate members spoke strongly in favor of the new government, and hardly anyone spoke against funding it. But Moon, the Senate Chief of Staff — after taking a deep breath — did.

Moon said allocating resources to multicultural communities was essential and that he saw a lot of positives that could come from it. However, he said he had reservations about funding the group without yet knowing specifics about how it would work going forward.

“I understand my opinions are unpopular,” Moon said.

One of the Mizzou students pointed at him and said, “Oppression! Oppression! Privilege!”

• The vote to approve the fee bill, including the Multicultural Student Government, passed with 51 senators for, 9 against and 6 abstaining. The Senate normally votes on measures via electronic clicker, but after some visitors and senators demanded a verbal roll call vote, the body voted that way instead.

For the measure to become final, Pringle must next approve the fee bill and forward it to the chancellor for approval. Thursday afternoon, according to university spokesman Joe Monaco, the chancellor had not yet received the new fee package.


— 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

‘Intellectual discomfort’ and ‘new ideas’: Newly released chancellor’s report issues challenge for KU

Kansas University’s newly released Chancellor’s Report draws a parallel between the tumultuous times in which the university was founded and some of its present challenges.

The annual report highlighting a variety of success stories and projects at KU went live online Friday, and print copies are being distributed around campus early this week, I’m told by KU public affairs. In a video introduction to this year’s collection of stories, headlined "My call to you ...," Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little recalls when KU was founded 150 years ago, on the heels of the Civil War.

Other KU faculty, staff, students and alumni then chime in:

Since its beginning this university has been central to our nation’s story and has grappled with our society’s greatest challenges. Some of those challenges today — citizenship, race, state’s rights — aren’t that different from those of 150 years ago.

Responding to those challenges is why they’re here, they say:

It’s not always easy. It makes some people uncomfortable, but that’s good ... to be challenged, to experience intellectual discomfort, to learn and to test new ideas.

Familiar faces from the video, to name just a few, include KU alumna Alyssa Cole, the then-student and single mom who introduced President Barack Obama for his January 2015 speech at KU; physics and astronomy professor Alice Bean, who’s led a team helping with upgrades to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva; professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Jim Thorp, lead investigator on a $4.2 million grant to study climate change via U.S. and Mongolian rivers; and associate professor of film Kevin Willmott, who co-wrote the recent film “Chi-Raq” with Spike Lee.

See the full Chancellor’s Report and read stories about some of these KU representatives and others online at report2016.ku.edu.


— 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 Scott Quenette

KU administration’s weapons policy committee is officially underway; email set up for comments and questions

The Kansas University administration’s Weapons Policy Advisory Committee is officially formed, has a website and is accepting questions and comments through it, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little announced this week.

The website is weaponspolicy.ku.edu, and the committee’s email address is weaponspolicy@ku.edu. On the site is a brief description of the newly formed committee and its next steps, a timeline, links to other resources including the Personal and Family Protection Act, which is the reason for all of this in the first place, and links to news articles about campus carry (several of which you avid Journal-World readers have probably already seen).

KU’s five-member Weapons Policy Advisory Committee, convened in February, is made up of chairman Jim Pottorff, university general counsel; the Lawrence and KU Medical Center campus police chiefs; University Senate president and KU faculty member Mike Williams; and KU Medical Center Faculty Assembly Chairwoman Patricia Kluding, according to the chancellor’s Monday message to campus.

That committee is supposed to present Gray-Little with a final universitywide plan — covering all KU campuses across the state — by Sept. 1. The Kansas Board of Regents wants all state universities’ plans by October. (Background: Kansas law says that beginning in July 2017, state universities will no longer be allowed to prohibit concealed guns from their campuses. To comply with the law, the Regents approved amendments to their statewide weapons policy in January. Now state universities must develop their own policies to implement the law on their respective campuses.)

Helping KU’s main committee will be two subcommittees, or “campus implementation committees,” which are still being assembled, the chancellor said. One will determine a campus-specific plan for implementing the law at the Lawrence, Edwards (Overland Park) and Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (Yoder) campuses. The other will do the same for KU Medical Center’s three campuses (Kansas City, Wichita and Salina).

No guns signs are posted on a side door of KU's Art and Design Building, as well as other buildings on campus.

No guns signs are posted on a side door of KU's Art and Design Building, as well as other buildings on campus. by Sara Shepherd

Gray-Little also took questions about guns Tuesday, during an informal general update and Q&A session with students, faculty and staff at KU Medical Center.

Refusing to comply with the law is not an option, she said. Also out of the question is writing a policy prohibiting guns from all buildings, because universities would have to place adequate security measures at every entrance where they wanted to do that.

One estimate showed it would cost in the neighborhood of $30 million a year to secure all KU entrances statewide, Gray-Little said. “So no, we are not able on a wholesale basis to provide gun detectors and guards at our entrances.”

The two subcommittees will be important, Gray-Little said, because there are a lot of differences in KU’s various campuses. For example, guns are widely used for educational purposes at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, but that campus will need to figure out a way to distinguish between those and personal concealed weapons. At the Lawrence campus, there’s a preschool and students living in dorms, which pose different challenges.

Gray-Little said the committees also will watch for evidence of how campus carry has — or has not — affected safety on campuses in states that already allow it. But so far, she said, “we don’t have anything but our judgments and beliefs.”

• KU Medical Center weapons info session: An informational session — similar to the one University Senate held on the KU Lawrence campus in December — is planned for noon to 1 p.m. March 10 in the School of Nursing auditorium at the KU Medical Center. Kluding said faculty assembly leadership is organizing the session, which is open to all KU Medical Center students, faculty and staff.


— 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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Free speech group urges KU to exonerate professor who used N-word in class

A national free speech group issued a strongly worded message to Kansas University this week about the case of a professor under investigation for discrimination after using the N-word in class.

An article published this week by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), highlights the case of Andrea Quenette, assistant professor of communication studies.

Quenette remains on administrative leave while KU conducts its investigation stemming from complaints by students that she discriminated against them when she used the N-word and made other remarks they considered racially disparaging during a class meeting the day after KU’s Nov. 11, 2015, town hall forum on race. Quenette did not direct the term at any individual; she said she used the word as an example in an educational discussion about racism. After the outcry, Quenette requested and was granted leave for the remainder of the fall semester. (Here’s my initial article on this, in which I hopefully succeeded in presenting the contentious situation more thoroughly and fairly. The story made national news.)

The FIRE article, "What’s at Stake in KU’s Investigation of Professor’s In-Class Comments? Only Academic Freedom as Faculty Know It," says:

The students’ demands for retribution are utterly inimical to academic freedom... It’s alarming—not to mention ironic—that a group of graduate students has called on the university to punish a professor for constitutionally protected speech when such a reaction would, in turn, decimate the freedoms necessary to pursue their own careers as academics.

FIRE further lays out its case in a direct letter — basically a university version of an amicus, or friend of the court, brief — to KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. The full letter is viewable here. Key passage:

The students’ argument that Quenette’s speech constitutes discriminatory harassment unprotected by the First Amendment is profoundly mistaken, and KU must reject it. Quenette’s expression is fully protected by her rights as a professor at a public institution. If KU were to find otherwise, it would undermine any meaningful commitment to academic freedom. Faculty must be free to expose their students to arguments, viewpoints, and ideas with which they may disagree to cultivate an atmosphere of debate and discussion befitting a public university.

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

As concerned as FIRE appears about the Quenette case, it appears the organization didn’t find it bad enough (or at least not yet) to merit adding KU to its annual list of the “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech,” which also came out this week.

Recall that last year, the entire Kansas Board of Regents did make that not-so-desirable list. The Regents’ offending move, according to FIRE, was its implementation of the statewide social media policy, which did stem from the case of a KU professor’s controversial tweet.


— 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 Ray McKamy Scott Quenette

KU’s international recruitment program expanding to include grad students; revenue key funding source for Central District

Kansas University has a lot riding on the success of its new International Academic Accelerator Program. The program, launched in fall 2014, aims to exponentially increase the number of international students enrolled at the university — and, along with it, increase tuition revenue coming from that category of students.

In its recently finalized Central District redevelopment plan, KU is counting largely on AAP revenue to fund about $6.4 million of the $21.8 million annual sublease payment required to realize the project.

Partly because it’s important financially, partly because it’s new and partly because it’s not 100 percent transparent because of being a partnership between KU and a private business called Shorelight Education, I’ve been trying to routinely check in on the program.

For the same reasons, KU faculty also are following it closely, and AAP leaders have visited Faculty Senate and Faculty Senate Executive Committee meetings to answer questions and give project updates. (Background: When the Journal-World requested a copy of KU’s 15-year contract with Shorelight, a Douglas Country District Court judge granted the company an injunction barring the contract’s release to the newspaper. However, AAP folks have always been available for interviews and provided numbers for my subsequent stories.)

On Tuesday, two administrators shared a few new AAP developments with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

From left, KU students Shiran Zhang, Kejing Wang and Boling Huang, all from China, participate in their Kansas Environment and Culture class, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. All are enrolled in KU's new International Academic Accelerator program.

From left, KU students Shiran Zhang, Kejing Wang and Boling Huang, all from China, participate in their Kansas Environment and Culture class, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. All are enrolled in KU's new International Academic Accelerator program.

Most notably, starting this fall the AAP — so far just for freshmen — will open to first-year graduate students, said Roberta Pokphanh, AAP academic director.

First, here’s how the current program works: Shorelight recruits students from around the world, who pay a flat fee of about $45,000 to participate. The all-in-one-style program provides 12 months of room, board, tuition and activities. Coursework focuses on intensive English and cultural instruction. Students emerge with about 30 credit hours and, hopefully, go on to enroll at KU as sophomores and continue through graduation.

The AAP’s new master’s program will work basically the same way, but the students will be first-year graduate students and emerge with six to nine credit hours toward a master’s degree, Pokphanh said. A number of master’s programs have already agreed to participate, she said.

Pokphanh said she expects the first year’s cohort to be very small, probably less than 10. Although they probably won’t be able to provide a count until the semester begins — it turns out international students don’t exactly plan ahead like stateside college applicants are accustomed to.

“These are students who expect to be applying in June or July for a program beginning in August,” Pokphanh said. “That’s the international reality that we face.”

She said the AAP also has started offering a shorter version of the program (two semesters instead of three) for freshmen who come in with higher English proficiency and thus need fewer English classes to move forward.

At the beginning of this school year, there were about 250 students total participating in the AAP program. In the program’s first year, participants came from China, India, Vietnam, Russia and Nigeria.

Stuart Day, KU’s acting senior vice provost for academic affairs, told the Faculty Senate Executive Committee that Shorelight continues expanding to new countries. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is a current recruiting target, and Latin American countries including Colombia and Mexico will come next, he said.


— 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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The writings of Wilt Chamberlain on display, and other Black History Month events at KU

Here’s something I for one did not previously know about Wilt Chamberlain: He wrote books.

The 7-foot-1 former Kansas University and NBA basketball Hall-of-Famer's 1991 book "A View from Above" — in which he discusses race relations and other issues he faced during his basketball career — will be displayed this week along with written works by former KU track star Ernie Shelby, former KU basketball star Lynette Woodard and other Kansas athletes. “Black Literary Suite: Sports Figures with a Kansas Connection,” presented by KU’s Project on the History of Black Writing, will be on view in Watson Library through March. A public program and reception with special guest Kevin Powell is planned for 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday at the library.

Wilt Chamberlain poses with copies of his book "A View From Above" at New York's Waldenbooks store Oct. 28, 1991.

Wilt Chamberlain poses with copies of his book "A View From Above" at New York's Waldenbooks store Oct. 28, 1991.

"Athletes aren't generally recognized for their writing. You've got those stereotypes, and we want to push against any form of stereotype," said Maryemma Graham, a KU distinguished professor of English who founded and directs the Project on the History of Black Writing. "Our focus is always on writing. These athletes have published their stories, and they are involved in helping sports to become highly visible and important to our culture."

“Many of the athletes and authors featured in the suite found their voice using writing,” added English graduate student Matthew Broussard, the project’s digital coordinator. "KU rightfully gets a lot of attention for our long tradition of athletic excellence, but we also want to shed some light on another side of some of these athletes.”

Wilt Chamberlain plays in his first game as a Kansas Jayhawk against Northwestern University on 1956. Wilt had 52 points and 31 rebounds in his debut.

Wilt Chamberlain plays in his first game as a Kansas Jayhawk against Northwestern University on 1956. Wilt had 52 points and 31 rebounds in his debut.

Project on the History of Black Writing

Project on the History of Black Writing by Project on the History of Black Writing

The Project on the History of Black Writing, within KU's Department of English, is the only archive of its kind and has been in the forefront of black literary studies and inclusion efforts in higher education since its founding at the University of Mississippi in 1983 and subsequent move to the KU in 1998, according to KU. (I visited and wrote about another of the project’s events last summer, an institute for scholars of black poetry.)

“Sports Figures with a Kansas Connection” is one of several Black History Month events planned at KU. Here are several more that are coming up, according to KU’s Langston Hughes Center. All are free and open to the public.

• “The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy's Journey To Manhood,” featuring author and activist Kevin Powell. 5 p.m. Wednesday at 110 Budig Hall.

• “Black Lives Matter,” featuring Opal Tometi, co-founder of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Lied Center.

• “An Evening with Black Physicists,” featuring Vera Loggins of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Kevin Reynolds of NASA Ames; and Christopher Bruner, Theresa Amante and David Menager of KU. 7 p.m. Feb. 29 at the Commons in Spooner Hall.

UPDATE: Here's one more event we reported separately from the original writeup here.

• “The Power of Sport: A Conversation on Business, Race and Sports,” featuring keynote speaker Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, and Shawn Alexander, associate professor of African and African-American studies and Langston Hughes Center director, leading a panel discussion with former KU athletes including Wayne Simien, Lisa Braddy and Ernie Shelby. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Kansas Union Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required through eventbrite.com. (Read more here.)


— 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 student’s winning piano design is a work of art

Musical instrument? Art? Both? (I'm going to say both.) A Kansas University student’s striking sculptural piano design beat out more than 100 international submissions to be among seven winners of the first Roland Corporation Digital Piano Design Awards.

The design, entitled “Amber Unleashed,” was created by Rebekah Winegarner, an industrial design student from Overland Park.

Winegarner’s “free-form” piano, for now a digital design created using several kinds of software, would be cast in amber-colored resin with a keyboard, circuitry and pedals attached, according to KU. Winegarner said in KU’s announcement that she wanted a design that was kinetic and aggressive — “an energetic and fluid form as powerful as the music it creates.”

This digitally created image shows a piano design by Rebekah Winegarner, a Kansas University industrial design student from Overland Park, that was among seven winners of the Roland Corporation’s 2015 Digital Piano Design Awards. The design is entitled, "Amber Unleashed."

This digitally created image shows a piano design by Rebekah Winegarner, a Kansas University industrial design student from Overland Park, that was among seven winners of the Roland Corporation’s 2015 Digital Piano Design Awards. The design is entitled, "Amber Unleashed."

Her project was completed as an industrial design studio taught by professor of design Lance Rake.

Roland, a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, picked “Unleash” as the theme of the competition — winners of which look nothing like the grand pianos you’re used to. (To see them all, click here.)

“As Roland Corporation continues to set new performance standards and design expectations for the digital grand piano,” Roland said on the company’s website, “it’s possible that some of these unique and inspiring award-winning concepts could one day become a commercial reality.”

— 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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‘We promised’: KU provost shares list of diversity and inclusion steps made so far

The Kansas University provost’s office now has, on paper, a “Diversity Action Plan” listing things KU has done and things it will do in the coming semester and year to improve diversity and inclusivity on campus.

Interim provost Sara Rosen shared the plan Thursday in a letter to the campus. Last fall, a town hall forum on race and ensuing protests and meetings made clear KU needs to do more to create an inclusive environment, Rosen wrote.

“We promised to provide a list of action items to ensure members of the KU community are understood, accepted, and successful in their individual pursuits,” she said in the letter. “Today we are sharing with you the first iteration of coordinated diversity and inclusion activities at KU.”

According to the action plan, these are some of the actions KU has already completed (several of which we’ve had stories on, if you want to click the links to read more):

• Created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group to investigate issues raised at the Nov. 11 town hall forum on race. The group — co-chaired by Clarence Lang, chair of the Department of African & African-American Studies, and Sheahon Zenger, athletics director — had its first meeting in December.

• Held an all-day social justice and diversity training session for all deans and vice provosts. Held a workshop on faculty mentoring for department chairs.

• Made several key hires. Precious Porras is the new director of Office of Multicultural Affairs. Jennifer Brockman will be director of the new Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center. Catherine Johnson will be director of Accessibility and ADA Education. Interviews for director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access were completed Jan. 12, though a new hire has not been announced.

• Extended the Office of Multicultural Affairs Hawk Link program to support first-generation, low-income and minority students to include the spring semester.

• Started process of creating the KU Climate Study, beginning with small group discussions to help determine survey questions.

• Established several other work groups on diversity and inclusion issues.

Students hold signs in the back of Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union during a town hall forum on race on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The group later took the stage and read a list of diversity and inclusion related demands for the KU campus. KU scheduled the forum in the wake of problems at the University of Missouri, where the system president and chancellor resigned under pressure from students who said the school failed to properly respond to racial problems there.

Students hold signs in the back of Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union during a town hall forum on race on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The group later took the stage and read a list of diversity and inclusion related demands for the KU campus. KU scheduled the forum in the wake of problems at the University of Missouri, where the system president and chancellor resigned under pressure from students who said the school failed to properly respond to racial problems there. by Mike Yoder

The plan includes many more next-steps. Rosen urged KU community members to provide feedback by Feb. 16.

She reminded: “The plan should tie closely with the goals of the university strategic plan, Bold Aspirations, and be informed by data we are in the process of gathering now. A strong plan will take time.”

— 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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Candidate visits kick off Monday for leader of new KU Student Veteran Center

As I reported last fall (on Veterans Day, to be specific), Kansas University’s Student Veterans Lounge is closing along with the Burge Union in March. But in its place KU is planning something bigger and better for vets: the Student Veteran Center, to be located in Summerfield Hall after the business school moves out.

KU has since identified four candidates to direct the new center, and they’ll be visiting campus starting this week. Each candidate will give a presentation, open to the KU community, on the assigned topic: “Transition challenges to student veterans and how the KU Student Veteran Center will address them in a resource-constrained environment.”

Here is the scheduled for their presentations:

Candidate 1: 10-11:30 a.m. Monday at Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd.

Candidate 2: 10-11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Kansas Room in the Union.

Candidate 3: 10-11:30 a.m. Feb. 1 at the Malott Room in the Union.

Candidate 4: 10-11:30 a.m. Feb. 3 at the Malott Room in the Union.

Members of the military present the colors to the crowd at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 at Memorial Stadium.

Members of the military present the colors to the crowd at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 at Memorial Stadium. by Richard Gwin

As usual, KU is not sharing candidates’ names until a couple of days before they come to campus. As names are announced, you can find them on this website: gmp.ku.edu.

KU’s veteran population has grown a lot in recent years. The new Student Veteran Center — set to open in January 2017 — is envisioned as a “one-stop shop” for student veterans and students who are family members of veterans, Randy Masten, assistant director in KU’s Office of Graduate Military Programs, told me back in November. He said the center will house a new veterans lounge along with offices student veterans need to deal with academic and GI Bill paperwork.

The university wants to be a national leader for comprehensive student veteran programming, according to a KU news release about the director search. The leader of the new center will be tasked with developing programming for “the four phases of the student veteran: recruitment, admissions and first-year experience, persistence to degree, and career services.”

— 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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Time capsule: One year ago today, KU played host to perhaps its biggest VIP yet

On this day a year ago, the Kansas University campus was decidedly more abuzz than this cold, cloudy and slushy Friday. On Jan. 22, 2015, KU was busy welcoming arguably its biggest VIP visitor in more than a century — President Barack Obama.

Previously the last sitting U.S. president to visit Lawrence was William Howard Taft on Sept. 24, 1911. Taft’s visit was big news at the time, filling two of seven front-page columns of the next day’s Journal-World, which declared the visit “ONE GRAND SUCCESS.”

But nobody was tweeting selfies with Taft, blogging about his visit or posting videos to Vine. The Internet made this presidential visit a much more interactive experience — even for people confined to their desks miles (or even continents) away.

Here are a few highlights from the Journal-World’s coverage of Obama’s visit to KU. See much more at ljworld.com/news/obama-at-ku.

Long lines

The line for KU students to get tickets for the President’s speech was hours long, and very cold. I took this photo from the back stairwell in the Kansas Union — look at all the people way up on Jayhawk Boulevard.

None by LJWorld KU News

The main event

Speaking to a mostly enthusiastic crowd estimated at 7,150 people at the Anschutz Sports Pavilion, Obama stood in front of a banner bearing the central theme of his Tuesday night State of the Union speech, "middle class economics," the Journal-World reported.

Here are a few of my favorite shots by our staff photographers:

President Barack Obama waves to the crowd as he takes the stage for a speech on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 at Anschutz Pavilion on the campus of Kansas University in Lawrence, Kan. President Obama visited Lawrence to outline some of his themes delivered during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

President Barack Obama waves to the crowd as he takes the stage for a speech on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 at Anschutz Pavilion on the campus of Kansas University in Lawrence, Kan. President Obama visited Lawrence to outline some of his themes delivered during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20. by Nick Krug

President Barack Obama gives remarks on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 at Anschutz Pavilion on the campus of Kansas University in Lawrence, Kan. President Obama visited Lawrence to outline some of his themes delivered during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

President Barack Obama gives remarks on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 at Anschutz Pavilion on the campus of Kansas University in Lawrence, Kan. President Obama visited Lawrence to outline some of his themes delivered during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20. by Nick Krug

State representative Oletha Faust-Goudeau listens as President Barack Obama gives remarks on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 at Anschutz Pavilion on the campus of Kansas University in Lawrence, Kan. President Obama visited Lawrence to outline some of his themes delivered during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

State representative Oletha Faust-Goudeau listens as President Barack Obama gives remarks on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 at Anschutz Pavilion on the campus of Kansas University in Lawrence, Kan. President Obama visited Lawrence to outline some of his themes delivered during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20. by Nick Krug

A security officer stands on the roof of Anschutz Sports Pavilion during President Barack Obama's speech Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.

A security officer stands on the roof of Anschutz Sports Pavilion during President Barack Obama's speech Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. by Mike Yoder

President Barack Obama shakes hands with the crowd after a speech Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, at Anschutz Sports Pavilion on the campus of Kansas University.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with the crowd after a speech Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, at Anschutz Sports Pavilion on the campus of Kansas University. by Richard Gwin

Selfies (sort of)

Some attempts at selfies with the President were more successful...

...than others.

None by Scott Morgan

Negative reception

Of course, there were protesters. Also, a number of event ticketholders were unhappy after being turned away because they arrived too late.

Protestors with Overpasses for America, display signs on the bridge over Iowa St., that links Daisy Hill to West Campus at KU. The group was protesting President Obama before he delivered a speech Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 on the KU campus.

Protestors with Overpasses for America, display signs on the bridge over Iowa St., that links Daisy Hill to West Campus at KU. The group was protesting President Obama before he delivered a speech Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 on the KU campus. by Mike Yoder

Pep talk

Obama took a few minutes to meet the KU basketball team, chatted with players and reminded them of the importance of academics. A quote from Coach Bill Self: “I said, ‘Hey Mr. President, overall team GPA 2.93.’ You know what he said? ‘You’ve got to get it up to 3.0, which basically tells you, ‘Don’t ever be totally satisfied,’ which I thought was pretty cool for our guys to hear.”

Members of the Kansas University men's basketball team head into Anschutz Sports Pavilion Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. The team met with President Barack Obama during his time on the KU campus. From left are Perry Ellis, Evan Manning, Wayne Selden Jr., Josh Pollard, Tyler Self and Christian Garrett.

Members of the Kansas University men's basketball team head into Anschutz Sports Pavilion Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. The team met with President Barack Obama during his time on the KU campus. From left are Perry Ellis, Evan Manning, Wayne Selden Jr., Josh Pollard, Tyler Self and Christian Garrett. by Mike Yoder

An insider view

In “Behind the Lens,” Journal-World photographer Nick Krug describes having a coveted position as press pool photographer for the visit. (Did you know the president’s visit to the local preschool lasted just 3 minutes and 40 seconds?)

President Barack Obama introduces himself to the a preschooler named Michelle and tells her that he also knows someone named Michelle, at the Community Children's Center at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence, Kan on  Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 . President Obama visited Lawrence to outline some of his themes delivered during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

President Barack Obama introduces himself to the a preschooler named Michelle and tells her that he also knows someone named Michelle, at the Community Children's Center at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence, Kan on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 . President Obama visited Lawrence to outline some of his themes delivered during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20. by Nick Krug

My view

Thank goodness Krug was up close. I heard the speech and talked to all the crowd members I needed for the stories I wrote and contributed to. But this was my best visual of the president — sorry about the graininess; I had to zoom in.

None 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.

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