Entries from blogs tagged with “KU”

‘Whites only’ no more: KU unveils marker to commemorate Strong Hall sit-in of 1965

Once upon a time, Kansas University Student Housing and The University Daily Kansan student newspaper allowed advertisements for off-campus rentals that specified “whites only.” That and a few other discriminatory practices at KU ended as a result of a significant civil rights event that occurred more than 50 years ago on campus.

Currently mostly only historians and KU community members old enough to have been around at the time know about the Strong Hall sit-in of March 8, 1965. Soon, anyone passing by the chancellor’s suite on the second floor of Strong Hall will be in the know — if they pause for a few minutes to read a new marker commemorating the event.

A year ago March, after organizing a recognition event to mark the 50th anniversary of the sit-in, a few professors had the idea for something more permanent.

“We thought, well, there should be a historical marker,” said Bill Tuttle, professor emeritus of American Studies. So he and two others — Shawn Alexander, associate professor of African and African-American Studies and director of KU’s Langston Hughes Center, and John Hoopes, professor of archaeology — set out to make that happen, Tuttle said.

On March 8, 1965, about 150 members of the Civil Rights Council, an organization of both black and white students, sat down in the hallway near W. Clarke Wescoes office in Strong Hall at about 10:30 a.m. with the goal of bringing attention to the administrations tacit approval of discrimination in campus housing and University-sanctioned organizations, particularly fraternities and sororities.

On March 8, 1965, about 150 members of the Civil Rights Council, an organization of both black and white students, sat down in the hallway near W. Clarke Wescoes office in Strong Hall at about 10:30 a.m. with the goal of bringing attention to the administrations tacit approval of discrimination in campus housing and University-sanctioned organizations, particularly fraternities and sororities.

On Wednesday, the result was unveiled during a ceremony at Strong Hall. The ceremony, attended by close to 50 people, was in an auditorium on the top floor of Strong, but the framed panel featuring photographs and text describing the sit-in and its significance will be permanently affixed to the wall outside the chancellor’s suite on the second floor of Strong — “right where the students were in 1965,” Tuttle said.

At one point about 400 people were outside the offices of then-Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe, bearing some specific requests, Tuttle said. In addition to banning the whites-only rental listings on campus, they included asking KU to stop sending student teachers into segregated school districts and to order the greek system to abolish “racially discriminatory” practices. After being asked to leave when the building supposedly closed at 5 p.m., more than 100 students who stayed anyway were rounded up on buses and taken to jail. Tuttle said some 550 students marched around the chancellor’s residence that night, and 160 returned to Strong Hall the next morning. To make a long story short (Tip: Once the marker goes up, check it out if you’re interested in a less abridged version), after meeting with some leaders of the group, Wescoe took actions that led to changes at KU.

Shawn Alexander, Kansas University associate professor of African and African-American Studies and director of KU’s Langston Hughes Center (left), Bill Tuttle, professor emeritus of American Studies, and Bernadette Gray-Little, chancellor, cut the ribbon during a ceremony to unveil a Strong Hall sit-in marker on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The marker, highlighting a student civil rights protest of March 8, 1965, is to be hung outside the chancellor's suite on the second floor of Strong Hall.

Shawn Alexander, Kansas University associate professor of African and African-American Studies and director of KU’s Langston Hughes Center (left), Bill Tuttle, professor emeritus of American Studies, and Bernadette Gray-Little, chancellor, cut the ribbon during a ceremony to unveil a Strong Hall sit-in marker on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The marker, highlighting a student civil rights protest of March 8, 1965, is to be hung outside the chancellor's suite on the second floor of Strong Hall. by Sara Shepherd

“This was probably the first major sit-in for civil rights at a northern university,” Tuttle said. “It also was the most successful protest in the history of KU. It was very nonviolent.”

The largest donation for the marker, $2,000, came from the Class of 2015, with the rest from individual gifts, according to KU Endowment. The marker’s total cost is $3,100, including design, manufacturing and installation.

At Wednesday’s ceremony, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said she was pleased that Strong Hall would have the marker. “Given the openness that universities should have to ideas,” she said, “it’s not surprising that all of these events were reflected here on our campus.”

Photo gallery: 1965 KU Strong Hall sit-in


— 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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Faculty ponder: Do suggested policy changes give KU too much control over employees’ inventions?

Kansas University administration is proposing some revisions to the university’s intellectual property policy, and to the “Employee Invention Assignment Agreement” that goes along with it, which faculty are supposed to sign. Some faculty leaders, however, think the policy gives KU too much control over things its employees invent, or might invent.

Administrators asked KU’s Faculty Senate Executive Committee to review proposed changes and give feedback by last week, but committee members agreed Tuesday they need more time. Incoming Faculty Senate President Pam Keller, professor of law, and incoming University Senate President Joseph Harrington, professor of English, agreed to give it a closer look over the summer.

A notable muddy area is whether KU faculty are considered employees for nine or 12 months of the year, faculty members said. One reason that matters is because some faculty spend summers working or consulting for other companies or even the government.

Faculty Senate representative Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, professor of aerospace engineering, said he and numerous other engineering faculty fall into that category. “They’re laying claim to basically 12 months of intellectual property and they’re only paying nine,” he said, adding that a professor working with a private company on a federal contract, for example, could result in federal and state government “fighting over intellectual property.”

To give you a taste of what they’re talking about, here’s one of the key passages in the suggested revised version of the agreement:

Employee agrees to assign, and hereby does assign, to University all right, title and interest and, where applicable, waives moral rights in and to said Inventions and to any Invention Protection that is filed, issued or maintained thereon, that (a) Employee develops using the University’s equipment, supplies, facilities, time, personnel or trade secrets, or (b) result from work he/she performs for the University, or (c) relate to the University’s actual or demonstrably anticipated research and/or development.

And another passage:

Employee acknowledges that he/she may enter into a consulting agreement that assigns rights to an Invention developed under a private consulting arrangement when such an Invention to be assigned is (a) developed entirely on Employee's own time, (b) makes no use of University equipment, supplies, facility or trade secret information (c) is made in compliance with University polices on intellectual property and consulting, (d) is not based on, improve upon or, to be practiced, does not require the use of an Invention owned by the University (e) arises out of a specific scope of work defined in a written agreement between the Employee and the organization, and (f) if such Inventions are within the specific subject area of Employee’s current and ongoing University research activities, such Employee has received the prior written approval from his/her department chair, school dean, unit director or similar administrative officer to engage in such external research activity and written notice of such approval has been provided to University’s technology transfer office.

Keller said a previous committee researched the issued and determined that such agreements were common at top universities but also that KU’s policy was too broad, and perhaps not clear enough.

“Have they reached the right balance?” she said. “I have some concerns about what they’ve done because it doesn’t seem to follow the committee recommendations from two years ago.”


— 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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Unhyped Mitch Lightfoot has time to grow and contribute at Kansas

Every year, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self brings in a new batch of recruits to add to the Jayhawks’ stockpile of talent. When he does, many of those freshman arrive in Lawrence with fans hoping the first-year college players will take on key roles in propelling KU to the Final Four.

Mitch Lightfoot isn’t one of those players. And that’s a good thing.

The 6-foot-8 forward from Gilbert, Ariz., isn’t a one-and-done like Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre Jr. or Josh Jackson. Unhyped, Lightfoot doesn’t have to step on campus with unrealistic expectations of becoming a game-changer before he has even, you know, played a college game.

Still, that shouldn’t temper fans’ excitement for Lightfoot. The hard-working, 219-pound forward will have a chance to develop season after season, and likely one day become a reliable veteran — perhaps even a special player. Having those types of four-year mainstays in a program is vital, too.

Freshman Mitch Lightfoot, trying to break into a front-court rotation that includes Landen Lucas, Carlton Bragg Jr., Udoka Azubuike and Dwight Coleby, might not make much of an impact. But junior Mitch Lightfoot or senior Mitch Lightfoot? He could be the exact type of upperclassman every successful program needs on the floor and in the locker room. By then, he’ll know Self’s system and demands far better than the latest ultra-hyped one-and-dones to put on a Kansas uniform, and he’ll have the age and experience to help those young guys while also showcasing his own skills.

None by Ballislife.com

In the midst of scoring 32 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in the Ballislife All-American Game this past weekend, Lightfoot was asked to describe his game, and project how he might fit in at KU.

“I like to work hard. I’m doing everything I can for us to win — taking charges, getting rebounds, scoring if they need me to score,” Lightfoot said. “With us losing Jamari (Traylor) and Perry (Ellis) there’s opportunity there. I just have to work my butt off and take advantage of that.”

While certainly confident in his abilities, Lightfoot also seems very realistic about his limitations and what it will take for him to contribute in his first season in the program.

“I’m working on shooting and getting bigger,” Lightfoot said, adding he has been lifting weights six days a week. “I’m really working my butt off trying to get better and being able to shoot the rock.”

Back when Lightfoot committed to Kansas, in October, he looked too slim, and a few years away from making any kind of meaningful contributions at the next level.

Wise beyond his years, though, you can tell Lightfoot already has begun to address his bulk with his workouts, and he looks significantly stronger now than he did entering his senior year.

Playing at Gilbert Christian, Lightfoot (currently ranked 118th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals and 67th by ESPN) faced double- and triple-teams in high school. If he can earn minutes next season on a stacked Kansas team poised to win a 13th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title and make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament, he’ll enjoy a very different on-court experience, with defenses focused on shutting down the talented players around him. If Lightfoot is comfortable enough, he should be able to find open gaps for high-percentage shots and ease his way into the college game.

Regardless of whether Lightfoot plays regularly or sparingly as a freshman at Kansas, he appears to be the type of person who will remain committed to the difficult challenges that come with cracking Self’s rotation. So even if he is a few years away from being one of the first guys mentioned when you’re talking about the Jayhawks, just remember there is nothing wrong with that.

Playing for KU means a lot to Lightfoot, who was born in Kansas City. So even if it isn’t until 2018 or 2019, his time in the spotlight at Allen Fieldhouse should come eventually.

None by Mitch Lightfoot

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Leadership in flux: Updates on provost search, IOA and student vet center directors, Student Senate execs

This week the third and final candidate for the position of Kansas University provost and executive vice chancellor made his public presentation on campus. When do we find out who the next provost will be?

The official word from KU, according to spokesman Andy Hyland: "We do not have a specific timeline for when an announcement will be made."

However, wheels are turning, he said, and 5 p.m. today is the deadline for KU community members to submit feedback to the search committee. The committee is scheduled to meet next week to review all of that and submit "an assessment of strengths and weaknesses" to the chancellor, who will review committee feedback and make a final decision.

The provost is an important position — basically No. 2 on the Lawrence campus, following the chancellor herself. In a chancellor’s message earlier this month, Bernadette Gray-Little urged campus to weigh in.

“The search committee received strong applications from candidates across the country who are excited about this opportunity,” she wrote. “...This job is critically important for our university. The provost seeks to ensure and elevate our academic quality, including both our educational and research efforts. These are our core functions and things that distinguish a public university from other organizations.”

The three finalists for the position of Kansas University provost are, from left, Neeli Bendapudi, Larry Singell and Chaden Djalali.

The three finalists for the position of Kansas University provost are, from left, Neeli Bendapudi, Larry Singell and Chaden Djalali.

The Journal-World covered each candidate’s public presentation. Here are links to those stories:

KU School of Business Dean Neeli Bendapudi gave her presentation April 11. Larry Singell, executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington, presented April 21. Chaden Djalali, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa, presented Monday.

If you have a KU ID, you can view videos of their presentations online at provostsearch.ku.edu.

Sidenote: Djalali mentioned in his presentation that KU's contracted search firm reached out to him and that he also had been contacted about positions at other schools. I found at least one via a quick Google search of recent news articles: Last summer he was a finalist for provost at University of South Carolina, according to The State (of Columbia, S.C.). Ultimately, University of Missouri business school dean Joan Gabel was hired for that job. I didn't turn up any such news with the other two candidates' names.


• Who will lead IOA and the student vet center?: Rank-wise they’re no provost, but both of these jobs are directly involved with supporting students at KU — and as of now they’re still unfilled. The position of director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access (which, among other things, investigates and adjudicates complaints of sexual assault and discrimination on campus) has been filled by an interim since Jane McQueeny resigned in October. The Student Veteran Center, a new KU unit, is supposed to open in January 2017.

Both searches remain open, and the university plans press releases when the chosen candidates are named, KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said this week.

It’s been a while since the named candidates visited campus. Three IOA director candidates gave public presentations in January. Four Student Veteran Center director candidates were scheduled to give their presentations in late January and early February.


• Student Senate names new execs: While we’re talking new leaders, the Student Senate has some of those as well. We previously reported that students elected Stephonn Alcorn as their new student body president and Gabby Naylor as student body vice president, in addition to new Senate representatives for the 2016-17 school year.

Wednesday night, the new Senate met for the first time and decided its executive staff. According to Senate, they will be Danny Summers, chief of staff; Allyssa Castilleja, treasurer; Mady Womack, government relations director; Abdoulie Njai, director of diversity and inclusion; Dalton Willey, policy and development director; Connor Birzer, communications director; Amy Schumacher, graduate affairs director; Whit Collins, assistant treasurer; and Mitch Reinig, internal affairs director (a newly created position).

None by KU Student Senate


— 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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KU’s DeBruce Center now open, temporarily without rules of ‘Basket Ball’

Guess where I had lunch today? Kansas University’s brand new DeBruce Center. It wasn’t a special media sneak-preview this time — on Monday the building opened to all.

DeBruce is still missing its pièce de résistance. James Naismith’s original rules of “Basket Ball” are not yet on display, and the “Rules Gallery” where they’ll be installed — a passageway connecting DeBruce and Allen Fieldhouse — is not yet complete. It’s roped off, with crews still hard at work inside.

Officials with KU Memorial Unions, the entity running the DeBruce Center, have stressed Monday was a “soft opening” and the $4.3 million rules won’t be installed until everything surrounding them is in place, probably several more weeks. (As DeBruce Center director Curtis Marsh put it in my last story about the building, “We are not messing around with those rules.”)

Aside from some landscaping and finishing touches on exterior metalwork, pretty much everything else is in place. A few highlights:

• Protective covering was removed on Friday, and the bronze sculpture of James Naismith is now on view outside the building. It was designed by the late KU professor Elden Tefft and completed after his death by his son, Kim Tefft.

• Custom metalwork is everywhere at DeBruce, inside and out. The exterior of the “Rules Galley” is particularly showy. The tunnel, connecting Allen Fieldhouse and DeBruce, is encased on both sides with steel covered in what looks like oversize, laser-cut lettering spelling out sections of the rules. Crews are still completing a large metal wall with a waving wheat motif outside the building.

• The “Rules Concourse” is just one of the ramps that zig-zag across the interior of this almost completely open-air building. The concourse features a display of KU basketball history, including oversize photographs of some of its most famous players.

• The Original Rules Gift Shop is heavy on KU basketball memorabilia, specifically original rules of “Basket Ball” memorabilia.

• Inside the Courtside Cafe, I immediately ordered a crunchy chicken cheddar wrap, of course. But then en route to the register I noticed I could have gotten a gyro, a banh mi sandwich or even barbecue at the other stations inside the cafeteria. Maybe next time, probably when I go back for my first look at those rules.

Outside KU's DeBruce Center is this bronze sculpture of James Naismith designed by the late KU professor Elden Tefft and completed after his death by his son, Kim Tefft.

Outside KU's DeBruce Center is this bronze sculpture of James Naismith designed by the late KU professor Elden Tefft and completed after his death by his son, Kim Tefft. by Sara Shepherd

Work is ongoing on the "Rules Gallery" inside KU's DeBruce Center, where James Naismith's original rules of "Basket Ball" will be displayed. The gallery connects DeBruce with Allen Fieldhouse.

Work is ongoing on the "Rules Gallery" inside KU's DeBruce Center, where James Naismith's original rules of "Basket Ball" will be displayed. The gallery connects DeBruce with Allen Fieldhouse. by Sara Shepherd

The "Rules Concourse" leading to the "Rules Gallery" inside KU's DeBruce Center. The big man on the right is KU basketball legend Clyde Lovellette, one of several famous KU figures featured in the historical display.

The "Rules Concourse" leading to the "Rules Gallery" inside KU's DeBruce Center. The big man on the right is KU basketball legend Clyde Lovellette, one of several famous KU figures featured in the historical display. by Sara Shepherd

The Original Rules Gift Shop inside KU's DeBruce Center features KU memorabilia, particularly original rules memorabilia.

The Original Rules Gift Shop inside KU's DeBruce Center features KU memorabilia, particularly original rules memorabilia. by Sara Shepherd

Just inside the main entrance of KU's DeBruce Center is a coffee shop (right). Open seating is pictured at left.

Just inside the main entrance of KU's DeBruce Center is a coffee shop (right). Open seating is pictured at left. by Sara Shepherd

The exterior of the "Rules Gallery" connecting KU's DeBruce Center (right) with Allen Fieldhouse.

The exterior of the "Rules Gallery" connecting KU's DeBruce Center (right) with Allen Fieldhouse. by Sara Shepherd

The Courtside Cafe on the lower level of KU's DeBruce Center.

The Courtside Cafe on the lower level of KU's DeBruce Center. by Sara Shepherd

The Nutrition Kitchen for student athletes on the top level of KU's DeBruce Center.

The Nutrition Kitchen for student athletes on the top level of KU's DeBruce Center. by Sara Shepherd

KU's DeBruce Center is open Monday through Saturday.

KU's DeBruce Center is open Monday through Saturday. by Sara Shepherd


— 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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Start brainstorming: KU Alumni Association announces theme for Homecoming 2016; new book tells history of women of Watkins and Miller Halls

The Kansas University Alumni Association announced the theme for Homecoming 2016 on Friday, along with some other key information. Last year, with KU Homecoming on Halloween, the theme was a fitting “Ghosts of Jayhawks Past.” This year’s Oct. 22 homecoming has a more open-ended one: “Rock Chalk Super Hawk.”

Here’s some more Homecoming 2016 information to note, according to the Alumni Association:

Date: Oct. 22. The Saturday homecoming football game follows a week of homecoming festivities kicking off Oct. 16.

Opponent: KU will play the Oklahoma State University Cowboys at Memorial Stadium. Time TBA.

Parade: 6 p.m. Oct. 21 on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence, followed by a pep rally on Eighth Street between Massachusetts and New Hampshire streets.

More information: As other events and information is determined, the Alumni Association will post it online at homecoming.ku.edu, on Twitter @KU_Homecoming and on Facebook at facebook.com/KUHomecoming.

People in charge: The KU Alumni Association and the student-led Homecoming Steering Committee are teaming up to plan festivities. Student director of Homecoming 2016 is Katie Gerard, a junior from Hanover.

A float that looks like Campanile with Jayhawk bat wings makes its way down Massachusetts Street during the KU homecoming parade Friday Oct. 30, 2015.

A float that looks like Campanile with Jayhawk bat wings makes its way down Massachusetts Street during the KU homecoming parade Friday Oct. 30, 2015. by John Young

An entry from the annual KU Sign Competition interpreting the 2015 homecoming theme, "Ghosts of Jayhawks Past."

An entry from the annual KU Sign Competition interpreting the 2015 homecoming theme, "Ghosts of Jayhawks Past." by Mike Yoder


• Watkins and Miller history, in print: A smaller niche of KU alumnae had a celebration last weekend, the women of “Kitchen 8.” Members of this group of Watkins and Miller scholarship halls alumnae gathered for a reception to launch “Watkins and Miller Halls,” a new KU History book published by Historic Mount Oread Friends. The book, compiled by Watkins Hall alumna Norma Decker Hoagland of Leavenworth, covers varying experiences and activities of the women who lived in the halls from 1926 until the present, Hoagland said.

The option these halls have provided so many women has been invaluable, said Hoagland, who lived in Watkins from 1969 to 1971. “I couldn’t afford to go to school if I hadn’t had my Watkins Hall scholarship.”

The cover of the KU history book, “Watkins and Miller Halls." Contributed image.

The cover of the KU history book, “Watkins and Miller Halls." Contributed image. by Sara Shepherd

The book is available for purchase on the University Press of Kansas website, kuecprd.ku.edu. In case you were wondering about the group name, “Kitchen 8,” Hoagland explains: “Watkins and Miller Scholarship Halls each have seven kitchens, where we cook for each other in a family-type atmosphere. When you graduate or leave the halls, you become a member of Kitchen 8."


— 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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Meet KU’s new student body president, a fast car revving up, and other student news

Voter turnout for the 2016-2017 Kansas University Student Senate elections was 19.25 percent, the KU Elections Commission shared this week. That represents 4,278 votes.

KU students elected their top two execs by a landslide. The team of Student Body President Stephonn Alcorn and Vice President Gabby Naylor with the One KU coalition took 90.6 percent of the vote, or 3,800 ballots cast in their favor, according to the Elections Commission. Their opponents, Richie Hernandez and John Castellaw of the CARE KU coalition received 9.39 percent, or 394 votes.

The Kansas University student body president for 2016-2017 will be Stephonn Alcorn, left, and the vice president will be Gabby Naylor, right, according to results released Thursday, April 15, 2016, by the KU Student Senate Elections Commission.

The Kansas University student body president for 2016-2017 will be Stephonn Alcorn, left, and the vice president will be Gabby Naylor, right, according to results released Thursday, April 15, 2016, by the KU Student Senate Elections Commission.

Students also elected their Senate representatives from various KU schools and sectors.

Elections took place last week, on Wednesday and Thursday, with results announced Thursday night. The Elections Commission released certified results and voter turnout information on Sunday.

None by KU Elections Comm.

A little more about KU’s next student body president: Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little introduced Alcorn, a junior from Gardner, to the Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday (the board met in Manhattan; I listened via livestream).

Alcorn, who’s been the Student Senate’s Government Relations Director this academic year, is a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity, Mortar Board, business school ambassadors, and several other things — and is the first KU student body president to have graduated from KU’s Hawk Link program, Gray-Little said. Hawk Link, housed at KU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, is an academic enrichment program designed for students of color in their first year at KU.

“We are delighted to welcome Stephonn in this new role and to congratulate him,” the chancellor said.

In other recent KU student news:

• Beckman Scholars named: KU has announced its new Beckman Scholars for 2016. They are Kathryn Brewer, a junior from Overland Park majoring in chemistry, and Collin Clay, a sophomore from Edmond, Okla., majoring in chemistry. This is just the second year for this scholarship program (a large one — each scholar receives a total of $21,000 via stipend and travel and supply funds over the course of the 15-month program, according to KU), aimed at supporting undergraduate research.

Brewer and Clay are researching things such as a “siderophore biosynthetic enzyme” in E. coli and “small molecule probes” in biochemical pathways, according to KU. Read more about them here.

• A first for Mock Trial: KU’s Mock Trial club just wrapped up a season of “unprecedented success,” team representative Robert Santamarina, a sophomore from Overland Park, said.

For the first time in team history, KU Mock Trial competed at the American Mock Trial Association National Championship Tournament, held last weekend in Greenville, S.C. KU earned an Honorable Mention, placing it in the top 27 teams in the country out of more than 650 teams, Santamarina said. KU’s Jackson Laughlin was named an American Board of Trial Advocates Intercollegiate All-American Attorney at the tournament, one of just 21 students nationally to earn the honor.

Kansas University Mock Trial team members that went to nationals were (top row, from left) Tyler Toelkes (coach), Robert Santamarina, Alex Kaechele, Jackson Laughlin, Alex Ohler, Matt Werner (coach), Katelynn Schultz and Chelsi Hayden (law school Faculty Advisor); and (bottom row) Eric Wilson (coach)​, Weston Halberstadt, Will Admussen and Lauren Appenfeller.

Kansas University Mock Trial team members that went to nationals were (top row, from left) Tyler Toelkes (coach), Robert Santamarina, Alex Kaechele, Jackson Laughlin, Alex Ohler, Matt Werner (coach), Katelynn Schultz and Chelsi Hayden (law school Faculty Advisor); and (bottom row) Eric Wilson (coach)​, Weston Halberstadt, Will Admussen and Lauren Appenfeller.

• Fast car unveiling: The KU School of Engineering’s Jayhawk Motorsports team will publicly unveil its new combustion car at 3 p.m. Sunday at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St. According to KU, the team spent all year designing and manufacturing the car and will race it at national competitions in May and June.

With that, I will leave you with this video of the chancellor driving a previous Jayhawk Motorsports car into Memorial Stadium for Traditions Night 2015. (OK, I’m not convinced she’s actually the one at the wheel on the track, but it's still fun.)


— 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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KU Endowment: Anonymous donor agrees to match $5K in donations to scholarship named for paralyzed frat member

A donor who wishes to remain anonymous has agreed to match the next $5,000 in donations — made before 5 p.m. Friday — to the new Tom Babb Student Accessibility Scholarship, according to the Kansas University Endowment Association.

Babb, a freshman member of KU’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity, was paralyzed from the neck down while vacationing with his family in Hawaii over winter break. After more than three months of hospitalization, he’s now home with his family in Colorado but hopes to return to KU this fall.

If you missed my story about Babb in Sunday’s paper, read it online here. He had to miss Beta’s Feb. 7 initiation, but a couple weeks later the fraternity chartered a bus and drove to Colorado to initiate him there. Now they’re planning a 5K run, set for Sunday on campus, to raise money for the scholarship in his name.

Fifty members of Kansas University's Beta Theta Pi fraternity took an overnight bus ride to Evergreen, Colo., where they initiated freshman Tom Babb in a special ceremony Feb. 20, 2016. The rest of Babb's pledge class had been initiated Feb. 7 in Lawrence, but Babb could not be there. While on a family vacation in Hawaii over winter break, Babb was paralyzed in an accident and hospitalized more than three months following. Babb hopes to return to KU for the fall 2016 semester.

Fifty members of Kansas University's Beta Theta Pi fraternity took an overnight bus ride to Evergreen, Colo., where they initiated freshman Tom Babb in a special ceremony Feb. 20, 2016. The rest of Babb's pledge class had been initiated Feb. 7 in Lawrence, but Babb could not be there. While on a family vacation in Hawaii over winter break, Babb was paralyzed in an accident and hospitalized more than three months following. Babb hopes to return to KU for the fall 2016 semester.

At this point, because of his injury, Babb requires help doing basically everything — even his motorized wheelchair is controlled by his mouth. Babb's fraternity and family set up the scholarship to give financial help to students like Babb, who have physical disabilities and require full-time care from a professional caregiver.

The matching donation is applicable to contributions made directly to the KU Endowment scholarship fund, according to Michelle Tevis of KU Endowment. Donors can give online at kuendowment.org/give, specifying the fund name where prompted.

The website to sign up for the TomSTRONG 5K Run/Walk/Roll is tomstrong5k.org. And it looks like it’s going to be big: Since my story was published Sunday, almost 100 more people have signed up, for a total of 585, according to the site. The course is on campus, but organizers kindly made the homestretch a downhill.


— 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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Stock watch: Perry Ellis looks like late 2nd-round pick (for now)

If the NBA Draft happened today, odds are four-year Kansas forward Perry Ellis would last deep into the second round — or perhaps not be selected at all.

A consensus All-American in his senior season with the Jayhawks, all Ellis did was average 16.9 points and 5.8 rebounds, shoot 53.1% from the floor, make 28 of 64 3-pointers (43.8%) and visit the free-throw line 4.7 times a game, where he connected on 78.5% of his tries.

As reliable a scorer as the Big 12 has seen the past handful of years, Ellis, according to sports-reference.com, ranks No. 1 in the conference since 2009-10 in career offensive rating (120.30), even beating out Naismith Award winner Buddy Hield of Oklahoma (115.39).

Yet, when you look at projections for the 2016 NBA Draft, such as the current mock at DraftExpress.com, Hield’s name appears in the lottery and Ellis’ doesn’t show up until near the end of the second round. DraftExpress lists Ellis 59th, the next-to-last pick in the entire draft. NBADraft.net’s predictions have Ellis going 56th.

Kansas Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis (34) gets to the bucket against Maryland forward Damonte Dodd (35) during the first half, Thursday, March 24, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kansas Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis (34) gets to the bucket against Maryland forward Damonte Dodd (35) during the first half, Thursday, March 24, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. by Nick Krug

Now, there is no denying that Hield and other projected lottery picks look like more sure fits in the NBA than Ellis. But could there possibly be 50-plus prospects in this draft better than him?

The good news for the soft-spoken, hard-working forward from KU is the draft isn’t until the end of June. Ellis will have plenty of opportunities in the weeks ahead to work out for various franchises, in front of coaches and decision-makers, and show them exactly what type of player and person he can be for their organization.

At 6-foot-8, one perceived knock on Ellis is that he’s a tweener — not big enough to play power forward, but not exactly a small forward, either. However, Ellis might be entering the NBA at the exact right time for that not to matter. More and more teams are showing their preferences for playing smaller lineups, putting a stretch-4 at power forward, someone who can hit outside shots and provide better offensive spacing.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) puts up a three against San Diego State forward Zylan Cheatham (14) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) puts up a three against San Diego State forward Zylan Cheatham (14) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at Viejas Arena in San Diego. by Nick Krug

There isn’t an NBA coach or general manager who would look at Ellis and say, “There’s our new starting 4-man.” But there are so many teams in need of production off the bench, it’s hard to imagine that many organizations passing up on Ellis, who can smoothly knock down jumpers (Bill Self just didn’t often need him to or ask him to), or use his quickness facing up to get inside for a high-percentage attempt.

Maybe the draft will play out that way the current predictions indicate, and Ellis will hear the names of 50-some players called before his. Or maybe the right organization will see Ellis’ potential to contribute off the bench and decide to take a proven basketball commodity over a gamble with intriguing measurements.

Either way, we’ll continue to track the draft stock of Ellis and other Jayhawks in the weeks ahead, here at KUsports.com.

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Comparing potential point guard transfers for KU

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self and his assistants remain in the hunt for a high school player who can help the Jayhawks in the upcoming 2016-17 season. In the meantime, it seems increasingly likely they will also add a transfer with college experience.

Reports surfaced in early April of KU’s interest in Kory Holden, formerly of Delaware. News on the transfer front heated up Monday, though, with the names of San Francisco’s Devin Watson and Duke’s Derryck Thornton being linked with Kansas, as well.

All three play point guard, and if any were to join KU it would mean sitting out a season. It seems as though Self wants to bring in an experienced ball handler to share the backcourt with Devonté Graham in 2017-18, after Frank Mason III completes his senior season with the Jayhawks.

Here’s a look at what each potential transfer could bring to KU.

Kory Holden | 6-2, 180

Delaware's Kory Holden in action during an NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Delaware's Kory Holden in action during an NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Season MP FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
2014-15 34.1 .395 3.2 8.0 .401 0.8 2.2 .375 3.5 4.7 .756 3.1 5.0 0.6 0.1 3.3 12.4
2015-16 36.3 .395 3.7 9.3 .400 2.3 5.9 .388 3.4 4.2 .795 3.0 4.2 0.4 0.1 2.9 17.7
Career 35.2 .395 3.5 8.7 .400 1.6 4.1 .384 3.4 4.4 .775 3.1 4.6 0.5 0.1 3.1 15.1

In two seasons at Delaware, Kory Holden didn’t experience much team success. The Fightin’ Blue Hens went 10-20 in his freshman year, and finished 7-23 in 2015-16.

However, Holden, rated a three-star point guard out of high school, proved to be one of the program’s few bright spots. While Holden distributed the ball well, dishing 4.6 assists a game in 59 appearances (55 starts), he also increased his scoring average from 12.4 points in Year One to 17.7 points as a sophomore.

Holden shot 38.8% from 3-point range in his final year at Delaware, connecting on 69 long-range bombs.

Against some of the stiffest competition the Hens faced this past season, Holden more than held his own. The lead guard scored 35 points and shot 6-for-13 from deep in a loss at Boston College. In his very next game, Holden put up 23 points, going 6-for-10 from 3-point distance, in a road loss to eventual national champion Villanova.

Devin Watson | 6-1, 165

San Francisco guard Devin Watson (1) drives around Pepperdine guard Amadi Udenyi during the first half of a West Coast Conference tournament NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

San Francisco guard Devin Watson (1) drives around Pepperdine guard Amadi Udenyi during the first half of a West Coast Conference tournament NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Season MP FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL TOV PTS
2014-15 23.6 .383 2.1 4.8 .440 0.5 2.1 .250 2.6 3.6 .730 1.7 2.5 1.0 1.9 8.4
2015-16 34.7 .418 4.2 9.1 .465 2.2 6.2 .349 5.3 7.2 .733 2.5 4.9 0.9 3.0 20.3
Career 29.1 .407 3.2 6.9 .456 1.3 4.1 .324 3.9 5.4 .732 2.1 3.7 1.0 2.4 14.2

A significant jump in minutes also meant a massive leap in production for second-year San Francisco guard Devin Watson, who will be moving on from the Dons.

None by Jeff Goodman

Watson, playing for former Kansas guard and since-fired coach Rex Walters at USF, became a workhorse for the West Coast Conference program as a sophomore. Playing 34.7 minutes a game, the small guard passed out 4.9 assists a game while also scoring 20.3 an outing.

Not quite as good a shooter as Holden, Watson (also rated as a three-star point guard in the Class of 2014) connected on 65 of his 186 3-pointers for San Francisco this past season (34.9%).

Watson tied his career high with 33 points in what turned out to be his USF finale, a WCC Tournament loss to Pepperdine, a game in which he went 4-for-7 from 3-point land.

His other 33-point outing came in January, when Watson also distributed 7 assists and shot 5-for-12 from downtown in a loss to Gonzaga.

Derryck Thornton | 6-2, 175

Louisville's Donovan Mitchell (45) guards Duke's Derryck Thornton (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Louisville's Donovan Mitchell (45) guards Duke's Derryck Thornton (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Season MP FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
2015-16 26.0 .390 1.9 4.4 .421 0.8 2.3 .329 1.1 1.6 .690 1.8 2.5 0.8 0.2 1.6 7.1
Career 26.0 .390 1.9 4.4 .421 0.8 2.3 .329 1.1 1.6 .690 1.8 2.5 0.8 0.2 1.6 7.1

After playing 36 games for Duke as a freshman, Derryck Thornton might be on the move from one college basketball blue blood program to another.

None by Jeff Borzello

Thornton’s numbers — 7.1 points, 2.5 assists, 27 of 82 on 3-pointers in 26.0 minutes (20 starts) — might not be as eye-popping as those of Watson and Holden, but Delaware and San Francisco certainly don’t have the type of talented teammates Thornton had at Duke.

What’s more, Thornton was much more highly regarded coming out of high school, with a five-star rating and offers from the likes of Duke, Arizona and UCLA.

The Blue Devils, who finished 25-11 and lost in the Sweet 16, were 15-5 with Thornton in the starting lineup.

His most productive games, however, came against inferior competition. Thornton only turned out one double-digit scoring performance in the final three months of the season — 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists at Georgia Tech.

During Thornton’s brief stay in Durham, N.C., his best showings came in the non-conference, with a career-high 19 points against VCU, and 18 points against Long Beach State on 8-for-12 shooting (2-for-3 from 3-point range).

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Kansan lawsuit continues: Newspaper says suit should not be dismissed, especially in light of recent Student Senate action

The University Daily Kansan’s lawsuit against Kansas University has taken another step forward. The Kansan filed a memo last week opposing the university’s attempt to get the suit dismissed.

And in its latest filing, submitted April 8 in federal court, the Kansan adds that new Student Senate funding decisions made last month have made the Kansan’s situation even worse and, unless they're blocked, will continue to do so in the future.

Quick background if you’re not up to speed on this story: In February, the Kansan, current editor in chief Vicky Díaz-Camacho and former editor in chief Katie Kutsko sued KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and vice provost for student affairs Tammara Durham. The Kansan complained that KU Student Senate cut the newspaper’s student fee funding in half for the 2015-2016 school year — from about $90,000 to about $45,000 — based on its content, which violated the student newspaper’s constitutional press freedoms under the First Amendment and forced the newspaper to cut staff. The suit names the two administrators because the chancellor or designee must ultimately sign off on student fee usage decisions made by the Senate. KU responded, arguing that the court should dismiss the suit because the plaintiffs lack standing and the suit lacks merit.

“None of their blame-shifting diminishes the defendants’ role,” the Kansan wrote in its new filing. “This was more than just tacit approval in, or rubber stamping of, a sheet of paper that comes across a state administrator’s desk; this case involves the University’s official budget ... In recent years the university administration has unilaterally increased the mandatory student activity fee to fund KU athletics. Defendants had the opportunity to do the same here to avoid a constitutional violation.”

Since the lawsuit was filed, the Senate voted on required student fee allotments for the 2016-2017 school year — including keeping the Kansan’s allotment at $45,000 for the year instead of restoring it to what it was two years ago. (I’ve been checking with KU on this, but at last word the chancellor had yet to formally approve or veto the new fee package.)

The Kansan’s April 8 motion comments on that: “Without intervention ... the chilling effect on the Kansan’s newsroom will continue. Since this lawsuit was filed, this threat has moved closer to reality. The Kansan stands to suffer further retaliation because the proposed upcoming budget keeps the Kansan’s funding at only one-half of the previous amount.”

If you’re interested (like, really interested), here’s the full 32-page memo. I’ll keep an eye out for further case developments.

Note that Kutsko currently is employed as an intern for Sunflower Publishing, which, along with the Journal-World, is owned by The World Company.


— 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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KU Sports Extra: Josh Jackson Impact and Spring Football Recap

There aren’t any Kansas basketball games for our KUsports.com team to talk about right now, but that doesn’t mean Tom Keegan and Matt Tait have run out of topics for discussion.

For one, KU and coach Bill Self received some humongous news this week when the top-ranked senior in the Class of 2016, Josh Jackson, announced he’ll play for the Jayhawks next season.

Just what does the addition of such a talent mean for Kansas?

Find out, and get some KU football knowledge, too, on this week’s episode of KU Sports Extra.

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Wheels are turning to create new University Senate standing committee on diversity

Kansas University has an active diversity task force, the "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group" created in November by the Office of the Provost. But there are two main problems with it, said University Senate President Mike Williams, who is a representative on the group.

One, it’s finite. Two, it’s not autonomous from university administration.

Williams wants the University Senate to establish a permanent and separate standing committee to address diversity, he said at this week's University Senate Executive Committee meeting.

He said he’s working on a proposal and hopes to bring it to the full University Senate for a vote before the end of the school year. He said the proposal may be to create an ad hoc committee first, which under University Senate rules could be populated and begin work immediately, with the idea it would lead to a permanent committee later, which would take more time to formalize.

Williams said “many” other universities have such committees for diversity and that he was surprised KU did not.

“I think it’s more than just an appropriate gesture,” Williams said. “It’s overdue. I think it’s a chance for governance to become very visible in their support of improving the climate of the university.”

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

KU’s Student Senate already has a Multicultural Affairs Committee, one of that body’s four standing committees (the others are Finance, Student Rights and University Affairs). The University Senate (composed of students, faculty and staff) currently has nine standing committees: Academic Computing and Electronic Communications, Academic Policies and Procedures, Athletic, Calendar, International Affairs, Libraries, Organization and Administration, Planning and Resources, and Retirees Rights and Benefits.

Williams said fellow Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group members and others have said that KU should have a body “beyond administrative reach” that can hear concerns from across campus and make recommendations for how the university can do better.

From the Provost's website, this is the charge of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group: "The DEI Advisory Group will discover and inform our campus community of patterns of discrimination, including lack of respect, inclusion, and equity in our educational and research environments and social communities. The group will consider on an ongoing basis the degree to which we provide inclusive educational, research, and social environments for all students, staff, and faculty."

• University governance turnover: KU’s various governing bodies are amid their respective changing of the guards this time of year. Student Senate elections are today (Wednesday) and Thursday, and newly elected incoming leaders will meet jointly with outgoing representatives April 27. (If you're interested, The University Daily Kansan covered the presidential and vice presidential candidates' debate here, and published a guide outlining each of the two coalitions' platforms here.)

Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and University Senate also are in the process of naming new leaders and will hold their last meetings of the year in coming weeks.


— 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 2 comments from Clara Westphal Nathan Anderson

Peek inside KU football’s open practice

Take a peek inside the Kansas football team’s 14th practice of the spring, on Tuesday, inside Memorial Stadium.

The Jayhawks, who practiced in front of fans three days earlier, at their annual spring game, wrap up their offseason allotment of full coaching sessions this week.

KU opens its second season under head coach David Beaty, on Sept. 3, against Rhode Island.

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Book launch planned for ‘Transgalactic,’ second novel in trilogy by KU sci-fi grandmaster James Gunn

When I last wrote about Kansas University sci-fi guru James Gunn, he’d just been inducted into the National Science Fiction Hall of Fame at age 92 and was in the middle of writing a trilogy. Gunn, of Lawrence, is professor emeritus of English at KU and namesake of the university’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction.

Gunn fans might like to know that novel No. 2, “Transgalactic,” published by Tor Books, just came out a couple weeks ago. There’s a book launch planned from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday (tonight) at the Jayhawk Ink Lounge on Level 2 of the Kansas Union. (Visit the “Transgalactic” page on Tor.com for excerpts and links to buy the book online.)

The first book of the trilogy, “Transcendental” was published in 2013, also by Tor Books. The third, “Transformation,” is in progress. Clipped from my last story back in August, here’s what Gunn told me about his latest novels:

Gunn described the new trilogy as a return to the space epic, the style of novels he penned in the 1950s.

The “Transcendental” trilogy combines all the influences from his life and writing — and most of the first book takes place on a spaceship carrying humans and aliens through a galaxy dominated by a federation of aliens. The ship’s riders set out to find a transcendent machine, he said, “and a few of them make it through.”

Without spoiling the ending or the yet-to-publish volumes, Gunn said the next books involve characters attempting to find their way back together after being separated in the galaxy and then facing an alien invasion.

Lawrence science fiction writer and Kansas University professor emeritus James Gunn is pictured with a miniature version of a translucent award featuring his own likeness that will be on display at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. Gunn, who is the author of 42 published science fiction novels and is working on his 43rd, was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame this summer.

Lawrence science fiction writer and Kansas University professor emeritus James Gunn is pictured with a miniature version of a translucent award featuring his own likeness that will be on display at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. Gunn, who is the author of 42 published science fiction novels and is working on his 43rd, was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame this summer. by Nick Krug

• Live from New York: Another thing happening tonight: The KU Jazz Ensemble I is playing at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Center, according to a KU announcement.

That’s going to be hard for most Heard on the Hill readers to make in person. But here are two other options for hearing the music: A reprise of the New York City concert is planned for 7:30 p.m. April 24 at the Lied Center. Admission is free. The Lied Center performance also will be live-streamed online at livestream.com/liedcenter.

• Say goodbye to the Burge: In case you missed the picture in today's paper, bulldozers have started tearing down the Burge Union. Here’s the shot by Journal-World photographer Richard Gwin.

Demolition work begins at the Burge Union in Kansas University's central district, Monday, April 11, 2016. For more on the services and offices housed in the building: http://ljworld.com/burge

Demolition work begins at the Burge Union in Kansas University's central district, Monday, April 11, 2016. For more on the services and offices housed in the building: http://ljworld.com/burge by Richard Gwin


— 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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Bill Self wise to continue pursuing one-and-done talents such as Josh Jackson

If you follow Kansas basketball, you’ve surely heard the theory thrown about on social media, internet comment sections, message boards or, you know, in actual in-person conversations.

The argument usually goes something like: Bill Self can’t win with these one-and-done college basketball players, so KU should stop pursuing recruits the coaches know will only play one season in Lawrence before moving on to the NBA.

While that’s an interesting hypothesis, capable of prompting entertaining debates, it’s not a concept Self would ever consider. Nor should he.

A coach running one of the nation’s elite basketball programs doesn’t just let some other school — one that he very well might run into during the Madness of March nonetheless — nab a player such as Josh Jackson, already projected as a top pick in the 2017 draft.

Josh Jackson, from Napa, California, competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Josh Jackson, from Napa, California, competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Self’s job each season entails putting together a roster capable of competing for a national championship. If he and his assistants think a lottery pick in waiting like Jackson — a 6-foot-7 shooting guard ranked as the nation’s top recruit by Rivals.com — will increase KU’s chances of cutting down as many nets as possible the following season, you better believe they’re going to do all they can to get that young star in a Kansas uniform.

Jackson, who committed to KU Monday night, didn’t just do so to showcase his talent for NBA scouts and general managers. Jackson is coming to Kansas because Self thinks the Jayhawks will be better with him on the floor.

Getting back to the crux of the argument, it is true Self hasn’t yet experienced significant NCAA Tournament success with one-year stars (or projected stars).

The biggest name to pick Kansas in quite some time before Jackson followed suit three years later, Andrew Wiggins couldn’t get the Jayhawks past the Round of 32 in 2014. Even though Wiggins went on to become the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft a few months later, and took home Rookie of the Year honors, he only scored 4 points against Stanford in a season-ending loss.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins heads up the court past Stanford forward Josh Huestis during the first half on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins heads up the court past Stanford forward Josh Huestis during the first half on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

A year later, Kelly Oubre Jr. didn’t produce enough to get KU to the Sweet 16, either, putting up 9 points in a loss to Wichita State.

The presence of one-and-done Jayhawks didn’t lead to those defeats, though. As Self has gladly addressed publicly, both of those KU teams faced significant determents in the forms of injuries. Joel Embiid, drafted third overall three months later, couldn’t play even a minute for Kansas in the 2014 Big Dance. The following March, a nagging injury slowed down Perry Ellis, robbing him of his typical quickness and explosiveness.

If KU had Wiggins and Embiid playing in the NCAAs two seasons ago, this idea that Kansas can’t survive and advance with such talents almost certainly wouldn’t exist. It’s hard to envision Kansas losing to an underwhelming Stanford team with two of the top three picks in the draft on the floor. From there, could the Wiggins/Embiid-led Jayhawks have handled Dayton in the Sweet 16? Seems pretty likely. And how would that young Kansas team have done in an Elite Eight matchup with Florida? We’ll never know for sure, but simply reaching that regional final would have drastically changed the narrative surrounding Self and his postseason success with one-year wonders.

Kansas center Joel Embiid gets his hand caught in the net as he tries to block a shot by Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield during the second half on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid gets his hand caught in the net as he tries to block a shot by Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield during the second half on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

While it is also true that Self’s best marches through the NCAA Tournament have come with veteran teams (see: 2008 national championship, 2012 national runner-up, 2016 Elite Eight), we shouldn’t just assume he is incapable of reaching college basketball’s promised land with a freshman phenom or two on board.

It takes the right player and the right set of circumstances, but one-and-done freshman have taken on starring roles for Final Four teams for years now.

  • Zach Randolph, Michigan State (2001)

  • Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse (2003)

  • Luol Deng, Duke (2004)

  • Marvin Williams, UNC (2005)

  • Tyrus Thomas, LSU (2006)

  • Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Ohio State (2007)

  • Kevin Love, UCLA (2008)

  • Derrick Rose, Memphis (2008)

  • Brandon Knight, Kentucky (2011)

  • Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague, Kentucky (2012)

  • Julius Randle and James Young, Kentucky (2014)

  • Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones, Duke (2015)

  • Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker, Kentucky (2015)

Obviously, one could also put together a list of veteran college players who led their teams to Final Four berths. The point is there is more than one avenue to NCAA Tournament success, and having a young star in the mix doesn’t automatically disqualify a team — or coach — from doing something special in the postseason.

Perhaps the fear among Kansas fans is that Self would begin to mimic Kentucky’s John Calipari, cycling through year after year of one-and-done lineups. Self isn’t interested in that approach. He likes having veterans who can help the youngsters along. Self would never want to start five freshmen — it would likely drive him bonkers. But mix a stud freshman or two with some experienced Jayhawks? Now that makes a lot more sense.

None by Nike Hoop Summit

If Self and Jackson have their way, KU will add to its rich tradition in 2017, with a freshman lottery-pick-to-be making crucial winning plays in March, alongside some Jayhawks with postseason experience.

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LaQuvionte Gonzalez excited about making KU debut

A transfer from Texas A&M, junior Kansas receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez says Saturday’s spring game festivities at Memorial Stadium kind of felt like a game day to him.

Gonzalez stood out on KU’s offense, snagging six receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown during the scrimmage.

“I kind of gave you all I got,” Gonzalez says, before clarifying. “Not really all I got, but I made some plays out there. So, yeah. That’s what you’ll be seeing all year.”

— See what people were saying about Saturday’s spring practice during KUsports.com's live coverage.

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Joe Dineen: Brandon Bourbon meant a lot to program

During Joe Dineen’s freshman season playing football at Kansas, a series of injuries forced the coaching staff to move him to running back, a position Dineen hadn’t played before.

One of the Jayhawks who helped Dineen get acclimated at running back was Brandon Bourbon. Dineen, now a junior linebacker, says news of Bourbon’s death shook the entire program.

“For a lot of the guys that were really close to him, I think it was good to kind of get back to something familiar, like football,” Dineen says of KU’s spring game, an open practice which fans could attend at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, the day after news of Bourbon’s death became public.

“It’s going to go back to the grieving process,” Dineen adds, “but for the short time being, I think it was good for the guys that were really close to him.”

— See what people were saying about Saturday’s spring practice during KUsports.com's live coverage.

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Steven Sims Jr. connected with QBs Ryan Willis and Montell Cozart

Sophomore Kansas wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. spent his high school days in Houston lining up in the slot. However, while playing in 11 games and starting six for the Jayhawks in 2015, Sims moved to the outside.

The most difficult part of that transition, Sims says, was facing press coverage.

“Mostly every team in the conference, they press man on the outside receivers,” Sims explains. “Playing slot, I didn’t have to deal with that every play, so that was the biggest change. But coach (Jason) Phillips, we’re working on that every day… I think I’m gonna be ready.”

Steven Sims Jr., who hauled in 30 receptions for 349 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman, formed a connection with quarterback Ryan Willis last season, but also says he works well with senior Montell Cozart — the only experienced QB at KU’s spring practices, with Willis sidelined by a wrist injury.

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Lilac tradition makes return to campus; update on KU leader in running for president’s position

Despite most of the old overgrown lilac bushes being torn out and replaced last summer, Kansas University’s iconic Lilac Lane won’t go a spring without blooms.

New bushes planted in September are in bloom their first season in the ground, as university landscapers had hoped when I talked to them last fall. The new bushes are small — on top of being young, the more than six dozen planted along the sidewalk are a dwarf variety. But between those and a handful of large, old bushes remaining closer to Fraser Hall, there are enough flowers that the scent of lilacs wafts through the air along the sidewalk.

A Kansas University student walks next to new lilac bushes in bloom behind Fraser Hall on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. While some old bushes near the building remain, the lilacs along Lilac Lane were torn out and replanted with dwarf varieties in fall 2015.

A Kansas University student walks next to new lilac bushes in bloom behind Fraser Hall on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. While some old bushes near the building remain, the lilacs along Lilac Lane were torn out and replanted with dwarf varieties in fall 2015. by Sara Shepherd

It’s fantastic, and definitely worth taking a walk in the next week or so while the bushes are still in bloom.

Considering the nearly 150-year history of Lilac Lane, it’s fun to think about how many generations of students, faculty and even chancellors — The Outlook, home to KU chancellors since 1939, lies at the end of Lilac Lane — have done the same thing this time of year.

Information on Lilac Lane in the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the KU Historic District.

Information on Lilac Lane in the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the KU Historic District. by Sara Shepherd

A few more recent campus updates to know about:

• Vice chancellor not hired at GSU: KU vice chancellor for public affairs Tim Caboni was a finalist to become president of Georgia Southern University, but it looks like he won’t be headed there. The University System of Georgia announced Wednesday that Jaimie Hebert of Sam Houston State University would be Georgia Southern’s new president.

• Ecology and evolutionary biology professor dies: A KU professor known for his work in aquatic ecology, biofuels and the ecology of infectious diseases died last week. Val Smith, 65, a professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, died April 2 at his home in Lawrence, according to KU.

“I join the University of Kansas community in mourning the death of Professor Val Smith, whose teaching and research contributed significantly to his field and helped elevate the reputation of the university and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,” KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement from the university.

Visitation is planned for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th St., according to Smith's obituary.


— 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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