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Kansas Alumni magazine turns 120

Mission to connect Jayhawks endures, evolves over 120 years

by Jennifer Jackson Sanner

Peer at page 3 or scan the spine of this issue of the print magazine, and you’ll see that this is No. 4, Volume 120, of the Alumni Association’s periodical, a venture that made its debut in October 1902.

The Graduate Magazine, as it was first known, was the brainchild of Olin Templin, a professor of philosophy and former Association chair who rallied editor and English professor R.D. O’Leary and three colleagues to his cause. Templin, c1886, g1889, was determined to create a tangible way for the Association (still a teenage organization at only 19 years old) to fulfill its noble aim to unite graduates, former students and friends in service to the University.

Templin reasoned that stories from the Hill could stoke a sense of community and commitment. His vision proved prescient: Through 120 years, this magazine has shared the stories of KU with those who care deeply about the achievements and challenges of their alma mater and their fellow Jayhawks. It supports the University’s mission of teaching, research and public service by informing and educating alumni and friends and by strengthening their connection to KU, reminding them that they remain part of the Jayhawk family, no matter where they live or how long ago they left the Hill. In recent years, the community has extended to those who never attended KU but who value the impact of the state’s flagship university.

In 1950, The Graduate Magazine became The University of Kansas Alumni Magazine, which shortened to Kansas Alumni in 1963. Numerous changes in format and frequency have neither diluted nor deterred the magazine’s vital function to strengthen KU. As the latest faithful stewards of this mission, we are honored to follow a succession of creative teams led by notable editors, including:

  • Leon “Daddy” Flint, c1897, the first chair of the department that became the William Allen White School of Journalism;
  • Fred Ellsworth, c1922, “Mr. KU,” longtime Association leader who introduced Class Notes to report the personal milestones of alumni;
  • Dick Wintermote, c’51, who also led the Association and became known to legions of Jayhawks;
  • James Gunn, j’47, g’51, revered professor and science fiction novelist; • Susanne Shaw, d’61, g’67, stalwart leader and student mentor in the School of Journalism;
  • the incomparable B.J. O’Neal Pattee, c’46; and
  • Dan Reeder, j’71, g’74, who led talented teams to regional and national awards we were fortunate to continue.

Because Kansas Alumni reaches KU’s largest audience of loyalists, the magazine can explore both proud and painful stories more thoroughly than other media. When difficult issues arise, the magazine reports on the University’s response and solutions—and airs the views of those who disagree with campus leaders.

While we’ve touted KU’s scholarly highlights, we’ve also described the sillier elements of campus life and our quirky traditions in a distinctly Jayhawk voice. Good-natured teasing is part of our family’s banter.

Since 2019, the quarterly print edition of the magazine also appears here on kansasalumnimagazine.org, along with timely content available to all visitors as we strive to serve the larger community of KU stakeholders.

Change, of course, is constant, as is our commitment to the mission set forth by Templin, O’Leary and all who followed:

We will lift the chorus ever onward. Rock Chalk.

Issue 4, 2022

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Kansas Alumni magazine, KU Alumni Association
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