May 20, 2004

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Contact: Mary Jane Dunlap, University Relations, (785) 864-8853.

KU faculty to head west from Winfield to Liberal on May 25 during bus tour

LAWRENCE -- On Tuesday, May 25, University of Kansas faculty on KU's 2004 Wheat State Whirlwind tour of Kansas will travel west along the southern boundaries of the state. They will go from the Walnut River Valley through ripening wheat fields into the Red Hills, also known as the Gypsum Hills, and beyond the Cimarron River to Liberal.

The 42 faculty on board the tour bus will travel more than 250 miles on Tuesday's route, through eight counties with stops in Harper, Medicine Lodge, Mullinville and Meade before arriving in Liberal. KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway and Stuart Bell, KU dean of engineering, will arrive in Liberal by plane to join the tour that evening and on Wednesday.

Throughout the tour, KU faculty will focus on innovative and traditional ways Kansas communities use history and natural resources for economic development.

En route to Harper, the faculty will drive through Sumner County, known as the Wheat Capital of the World, and an area where the wheat harvesting begins, weather permitting, in Kansas each year in mid-June.

As they near Harper, they may see damage from tornadoes that touched down in the area earlier this month. DewEze Manufacturing, 151 E. Highway 160 in Harper, escaped tornado damage. Tim Penner, president of DewEze, will meet the faculty at 8:15 a.m. to give them a whirlwind tour of a company that markets its agricultural and turf products to customers around the world. The 30-year-old company produces hay handling equipment, hydraulic systems and all-terrain mowing equipment.

At 9:30 a.m. they will arrive in Medicine Lodge, where Bob Larson, a rancher who promotes the area's natural beauty and history, will discuss the scenic Gypsum Hills, the city's Native American origins and the lore of the cattle town that boasted seven saloons when Carry Nation began her militant prohibition mission there in 1899.

The city's name came from Native American legends about the power of the Medicine River to protect the area from prairie fires. Long before Europeans arrived, Native Americans seeking the restorative power of its waters camped on the sacred river. In 1867, four years after Congress amended the Homestead Law authorizing the removal of all Indian nations from Kansas, the U.S. government invited leaders of five Plains tribes to negotiate a treaty to end three years of warfare. The leaders of the Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, Apache and Cheyenne nations chose the Medicine River lodge site for the negotiations. The 1867 treaty attracted national attention, set the southern Kansas boundary and enabled western settlement of the southwest. Today Medicine Lodge observes the signing with a pageant every three years. The next event will be in 2006.

About 70 miles northwest of Medicine Lodge, the faculty will meet M.T. Liggett, who fences his rural land with metal folk art. Liggett will meet with the faculty at 11:15 a.m. in Mullinville to talk about his works, which include messages, some political and some kinetic, with features that twirl in the wind.

By noon, the faculty will be on the way to Meade for a 1 p.m. lunch at the Chuckwagon Cafe, 807 Carthage, owned by Judy Perkins. Brian Best, cafe manager, not only will serve the 42 visiting faculty but also may informally field questions about the town's notorious 1887 resident: Eva Dalton Whipple, a sister to the three brothers of the Dalton Gang. Her house is part of a local museum that features a house-to-barn tunnel where Dalton Whipple would hide the gang from the law.

When the faculty arrive in Liberal at 2:45 p.m., their first stop will be the main campus of Seward County Community College, 1801 N. Kansas. Since SCCC opened in 1969, its enrollment has grown from 331 to more than 2,100 students with two learning satellite campuses in Liberal and a third in Ulysses. In addition to traditional classroom courses, SCCC offers online classes through EduKan, a consortium of six Kansas community colleges.

From 3:30 to 5 p.m., the faculty will have time to tour Liberal's business district, the Seward County Historical Museum or the Land of Oz Museum. The museum celebrates Kansas as depicted in the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz."

Before dinner at the MidAmerica Air Museum, the faculty and invited guests will gather in the home of Al and Donna Shank. She serves on the Kansas Board of Regents and is a partner with her husband in their insurance firm. At 7:30 p.m. the Shanks will join faculty for a dinner at the MidAmerica Air Museum, the fifth-largest collection of military and civilian aircraft in the United States.

Al Shank, a KU alumnus, hopes that an oil rig will be drilling near Liberal on Wednesday morning so the faculty can get an up-close and personal view of part of the oil and gas industry that has sustained southwest Kansas. If a rig is drilling, Shank will guide the tour bus to the drill site at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The six-day KU Wheat State Whirlwind tour is sponsored by the KU chancellor's office to introduce faculty new to Kansas to their new home state and fellow Kansans. Wednesday's itinerary includes a wind farm at Montezuma, a medical clinic and the community college in Garden City, a buffalo ranch and a fossil shop in Logan County, the Monument Rocks in Gove County, the Buffalo Bill bronze statue in Oakley and dinner in Colby.

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