Posts tagged with Ku
“When I was your age,” a bearded and button-up clad Jay Pryor tells a handful of dolled-up young dancers, “my name was Janet.”
That’s from an online trailer advertising a new episode of “Dance Moms” featuring choreography inspired by the story of Pryor’s transformation from woman to man. The episode is scheduled to air tonight at 9/8c on Lifetime.
Pryor, a KU grad, lives in Lawrence with his wife and two children and works as a life-coach, including teaching women's empowerment seminars. (The Journal-World featured him in 2009 and quoted him in a recent story reacting to Olympian and TV star Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn.) He said his own journey included a suicidal period that landed him in a psychiatric unit and that he has had close friends commit suicide after changing genders. He said he hopes his story will help LGBT youth who are struggling and he's glad for the opportunity to share it with the millions of people who watch "Dance Moms."
"I'm also nervous," he said. "It's my life in front of millions of people. I'm feeling a little vulnerable. But more than anything I feel blessed by the opportunity to make a difference."
Here’s how Pryor’s experience meandered its way to what would seem the most unlikely of stages — a reality TV show featuring tweens in the competitive dance world, and their moms.
A few years back, Pryor shared his story when the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles stopped in Lawrence during a touring stage show inspired by the It Gets Better Project, which supports LGBT teens, he said. Eventually — after a follow-up with the director and some additional interviews — his story became the inspiration for an original song by Danish artists Kier and Sascha DuPont titled "Run, Run, Run," which the chorus performed during later stage shows. Show director Liesel Reinhart summarized in a Huffington Post blog last week: "The song is intended to capture the push and pull of forces that Jay experiences as a young trans person, first running away from something and then realizing he was running toward something else." "Dance Moms" took notice and picked the Pryor-inspired song for the show.
Pryor flew to Los Angeles, where he met the girls who would be dancing to his song (for you "Dance Moms" fans, they're from the Candy Apple's team). They'd never met a transgendered person, he said, but they were "so sweet," hardworking and talented dancers. During rehearsal, he not only saw the choreography but he also heard the song he inspired for the first time.
"I bawled like a baby," Pryor said. "I was very moved."
In the trailer, Pryor tearfully tells the girls about friends of his who committed suicide after struggling emotionally with their sexuality. “You guys are saving lives by doing this ... I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate that.”
Pryor isn't sure how much, if any, he'll appear in tonight's episode. But he was in Los Angeles for taping and saw who wins the dance competition — of course, he's not allowed to tell.
Kansas University classics professor emeritus Stanley Lombardo’s dramatic reading of his translation of “Inferno” at this weekend’s Fringe Festival KC may be abridged, but he doesn’t leave out author Dante Alighieri’s famously ominous line, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
Over the next 45 minutes — the max time allowed for Fringe performances — Lombardo, his drum and a walking stick will transport the audience through the 14th-century poem’s circles of hell, complete with sodomites wandering beneath an eternal rain of fire flakes and sinners in a frozen lake gnawing on one another’s skulls.
Not your typical poetry slam material.
We asked Lombardo a little more about himself and his unusual craft. Five things to know:
1 — Who is he?
Lombardo, 72, retired in May 2014 after 37 years at KU. He’s renowned for translating ancient epics. Since his own college days, he said, he wanted to write poetry and study Greek. He started with Homer.
2 — What does translation have to do with performance?
When it comes to ancient poets like Homer, a lot. “Homer composed for performance — for generations, it wasn’t written down,” Lombardo said, explaining that he takes that to heart in his written translations. “If it doesn’t work as a performance for me, it won’t work on the page ... I want it to come to life.”
3 — Why Dante?
Lombardo’s done a lot of Homer performances, but only excerpts here and there from Dante — nothing this “elaborate.” His director for “The Inferno,” KU theater professor John Gronbeck-Tedesco, suggested it. Plus, Fringe material has to be new.
4 — Favorite thing about performing?
“Occupying the mind of the original author in the most intimate way,” Lombardo said. “For me, translation has always been not just, ‘What do these words mean?’ but ‘What is the mind that produced this amazing piece of poetry?’”
5 — What else is he up to these days?
Translating “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” which has required studying Akkadian (an extinct east Semitic language). Also continuing to perform dramatic readings at colleges campuses across the country.
If you go
Lombardo will perform ‘The Inferno’ at 6 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and 9 p.m. July 25 at Westport Coffee House, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave. in Kansas City, Mo. Find a full Fringe schedule online at kcfringe.org. Read about other highlights in Lawrence.com’s latest Kansas City Connection column.
For five years, Kansas University's University Senate has been studying the issue of domestic partner benefits, urging KU to offer them, and basically getting nowhere. The new U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage — obviously — is not a mere suggestion. It's causing real change, and swiftly.
Just three months ago I reported the University Senate was formally recommending that KU offer benefits to employees’ domestic partners, following a report from the Senate’s Domestic Partner Benefits Committee. At the time, I got the sense that senators didn't think that would happen anytime soon but they wanted their stance on the record, nonetheless. (Note that their recommendation was for domestic partner benefits because they wanted benefits for same-sex spouses as well as non-married partners, same or opposite sex.) A snip from that story:
“KU does offer a few benefits to domestic partners — including gym access and bereavement leave for various definitions of partners — but not the most valuable benefits, which are medical and dental insurance, according to the report.”
Back in 2010 we reported that the initial Domestic Partner Benefits Committee was launching its first study. That resulted in more or less the same conclusions and the same University Senate support — and also the same lack of real effect. Again, from my April story:
“The university has cited state and federal laws, as well as challenging tax and regulatory implications to providing domestic partner benefits, as roadblocks, according to the report.”
Enter the June 26 Supreme Court ruling that all states must legally recognize same-sex marriage.
Today, KU Provost Jeff Vitter addressed the issue of same-sex spouse benefits in his e-newsletter, saying:
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling on marriage equality affects University of Kansas faculty and staff, as well as our families, friends, and neighbors. Recent news reports highlighted that all 105 counties in Kansas will now issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Today, we received the very good news that state agencies involved with revising policies are reaching out to clarify how and when benefits will be extended to spouses and dependents of state employees affected by the decision. Human Resources Management will share detailed information with faculty and staff as soon as it learns the date of implementation from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's Division of Health Care Finance.”
So while paperwork may not be in order for employees to sign up today, it appears that at least for same-sex married couples the option is imminent — and no longer just a suggestion.
It’s as if an entire section of the Free State Festival was made for the academic types of Kansas University: ideas. KU faculty are populating a great many of next week’s three dozen or so “idea” sessions planned in conjunction with the Free State Festival — these people are experts on everything from flying drones to saving newspapers, from the reptiles of Madagascar to human geography as it relates to legalizing pot.
The Free State Festival idea sessions kick off Monday and are planned through June 28. Sessions include talks, panels and community forums. In addition to KU professors, featured speakers include faculty from other schools, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, some of Lawrence’s best chefs and even a couple world-famous people (George Clinton, for one).
Below are the first five sessions featuring KU experts. For a full schedule of ideas and other Free State Festival events, go online to freestatefestival.org.
Health Information Technology and Privacy
6-7:15 p.m. Monday at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St.
Featuring Norbert Belz, clinical assistant professor and director of the KU Medical Center’s Department of Health Information Management; and Lauren Pulino, clinical assistant professor of the Department of Health Information Management.
KU Research: Speed Dating Edition (in partnership with Nerd Nite Lawrence)
6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday at Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St.
Featuring multiple KU experts in the areas of bumper stickers, Madagascar herpetology, Neanderthal jewelry and more.
High Profits: The Commercialization of Cannabis
7:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at John Brown’s Underground, 7 E. Seventh St.
Featuring Barney Warf, KU professor of geography and “a human geographer with wide-ranging interests.”
Kansas Startup Culture
7:30-8:45 p.m. Tuesday at Lawrence Arts Center
Featuring G.R. Underwood, president and COO of KU’s Bioscience and Technology Business Center; and Wallace Meyer, lecturer and director of entrepreneurship programs at the KU School of Business.
Technology in Higher Education
4:30-5:45 p.m. Wednesday at Lawrence Arts Center
Featuring James Basham, associate professor in the KU Department of Special Education.
KU Office of Multicultural Affairs offering counseling, gathering today in response to Charleston church shootings
Kansas University's Office of Multicultural Affairs issued the following statement this morning in response to Wednesday's deadly shootings of nine black men and women at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.
It is with heavy hearts that we issue this statement regarding the violence at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina last night. This act resulted in the loss of 9 lives and unspeakable hurt across the nation. We know that many of you may be in pain and we invite you to visit our office today, at any point, to speak with any of our staff members. Additionally, we will hold a community gathering at 12:15 in the SMRC lobby. This informal, unstructured time will be a space for reflection, conversation and meditation. A representative from Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) will be available during that time for anyone that would like to speak with a counselor.
As we move through the coming hours, days, weeks and months, please know the OMA is an affirming space for you to share your feelings and have critical conversation. The cumulative impact of this year weighs heavy, and we hope that we can provide a space for you to rest your burden, if only for a little while.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs is located inside the Sabatini Multicultural Resource Center, 1299 Oread Ave., next to the Kansas Union.
A few months ago when I was interviewing Kansas University student Lei Shi for a story about his research on radar technology for small drones, I couldn't help but ask things like, "Do YOU really see drones flying all over the place, delivering pizzas and whatnot, in the foreseeable future?"
Shi, an electrical engineering doctoral candidate, was optimistic but for a few significant problems, one of which he's working to solve. He is developing tiny on-board radar systems to help keep small commercial drones from crashing into things — one of the biggest safety concerns keeping such unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, mostly grounded by FAA regulations.
His invention just got a big boost toward getting out of the lab and onto the market, KU announced Tuesday. Shi and UAVradars LLC, the startup company he created to develop the technology, received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from NASA. According to NASA, such grants fund research, development and demonstration of “innovative technologies” that fulfill NASA needs and have potential for successful commercialization.
“In the near future, unmanned aircraft systems will be a multibillion dollar industry within the U.S., with uses in agriculture, film and photography, package delivery, search and rescue, and much more,” Shi said in KU’s announcement. “However, avoiding airborne collisions is a safety hurdle that must first be overcome.”
Six KU companies have gotten help submitting SBIR grant proposals through a new initiative at the university, and Shi’s company is the first of the group to secure one, according to KU. The SBIR Assistance Program, funded by a grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce, is a collaboration between KU Innovation and Collaboration and KU Bioscience and Technology Business Center.
With the Kansas City, Mo., City Council election closing in, a Kansas University law professor appears likely to win a seat. Quinton Lucas, KU associate professor of law, is running to be the third district at-large representative on the council.
Lucas is a fourth-generation Kansas Citian who grew up poor in the city’s urban core, according to his campaign website. He earned academic scholarships to Kansas City’s prestigious Barstow School, then to college at Washington University and law school at Cornell University. After graduating from Cornell, he worked as a law clerk to U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Duane Benton and practiced commercial litigation with the firm Rouse Hendricks German May in Kansas City. He joined KU’s law faculty in 2012, initially as a visiting assistant professor, the school’s first in more than 30 years.
Lucas handily won the April primary with 48 percent of the vote, followed by Stephan Gordon with 14 percent, according to The Kansas City Star. He appeared on the June 4 cover of The Pitch, which called him “the most promising East Side candidate for City Council in two decades.”
KU policy says employees are free to pursue public office as long as it does not infringe on their job duties. But Kansas City Council is a time-consuming gig. I played message tag with Lucas this week hoping to ask about that, although according to the Pitch, if Lucas — who lives in an apartment in Kansas City’s Jazz District — wins he would have to surrender his tenure track at KU and reduce his hours.
Either way, the race will be decided soon. Election Day in Kansas City is June 23.
There is now a massive building in China shaped like the USS Enterprise from “Star Trek.” And it turns out, the Trekkie behind the phenomenon is a Kansas University graduate, The Wall Street Journal recently reported on its China Real Time blog.
Hong-Kong listed Chinese online game developer NetDragon Websoft built the 260-meter long, 100-meter wide, six-floor building/spaceship in the city of Changle in China’s southeast Fujian province, according to the WSJ. With a total investment of 600 million yuan (or $97 million), construction started in October 2010 and finished in May 2014.
The chairman and executive director of NetDragon Websoft Inc. is Liu Dejan, who got his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from KU in 1995, according to his profile on the company’s website. Liu also is director of the Chinese search engine Baidu.
Liu, 43, is a “huge” Star Trek fan, the WSJ reports. And — for other huge fans concerned with specifically which iteration of the ship we’re dealing with here — the WSJ said the building was inspired by the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E, which appeared in three “Star Trek” movies in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
So you don't have a building at Kansas University named after you yet? (Welcome to the club.) Don't give up hope. At least seven still have “naming opportunities,” according to KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, who I asked about this after reporting that KU is naming the Art and Design Building for former chancellor E. Laurence “Larry” Chalmers. They are:
• M2SEC (Measurement, Materials and Sustainable Environment Center)
• LEEP2 (Learned Engineering Expansion Phase 2)
• BEST (Business Engineering Science and Technology) Building at Edwards Campus
• Library Annex
• Multidisciplinary Research Building
• Structural Testing and Student Projects Facility
• School of Pharmacy building
Especially now that all former KU chancellors have buildings named for them, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little seems a strong contender to get her name on one. However, KU’s facility naming policy says buildings will not be named for sitting chancellors, so she’s off the table for now.
The policy says buildings generally are named for “distinguished individuals who have made extraordinary contributions of a scholarly, professional, or public service nature related to the university’s mission.” It goes on to say that, “in some cases, buildings may be named for major donors to the construction of the building.”
The latter has been true in most cases for buildings under construction right now, including Capitol Federal Hall (KU’s new School of Business building on Naismith Drive, which got $20 million from the Capitol Federal Foundation) and the DeBruce Center (home for the original rules of basketball adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse, named for KU grads and chief donors Paul and Katherine DeBruce). While their namesakes are deceased and donations weren't necessarily toward the dorms' construction, the two new residence halls being built on Daisy Hill also are being named for major donors. They will be called Madison A. and Lila M. Self Hall (the single most generous donors in KU history, with a lifetime donation of $106 million) and Charles W. Oswald Hall (one of the university’s top five donors, with $22 million in lifetime giving).
What would you name the remaining nameless buildings? Comments are open, and so is Twitter — tag us @LJW_KU #kunamingrights.
Capitol Federal Hall reached a construction milestone earlier this month: its full height.
The new home of the Kansas University School of Business, under construction on Naismith Drive across from Allen Fieldhouse, marked the occasion as the final beam was lifted into place.
The School of Business shared these shots with us, taken May 13, 2015. As part of the topping-out tradition, an American flag and a tree were placed on the beam, signifying that the structure has reached its maximum height and symbolizing a reverence for the natural elements displaced in construction.
Construction of the new four-story, 166,500-square-foot building began in spring 2014, and its doors are set to open for classes in fall 2016. You can see renderings and watch the construction via live webcam at newbuilding.business.ku.edu.