KU News Release


Jan. 21, 2011
Contact: Anne Cecilia Dotter, University Honors Program, 785-864-3374

University Scholars Program celebrates 30th anniversary

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LAWRENCE — A program at the University of Kansas designed to challenge the best among its top scholars will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Sunday, Jan. 23, with one of its founders.

Since 1981, the University Honors Program has annually selected 20 academically talented sophomores to be University Scholars. The program includes a three-year mentoring relationship with faculty members, a one-semester interdisciplinary seminar and scholarship support for five semesters.

One of the University Scholars Program founders, Judge Deanell Tacha of U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, will address students and faculty attending the 6 p.m. banquet at the Kansas Room in the Kansas Union.

Tacha, an honors student in the 1960s at KU and White House Fellow in 1971, was KU’s vice chancellor for academic affairs in 1981 when she and Francis Heller, professor emeritus of law, who directed the honors program in its early years, jointly proposed the University Scholars Program. Heller lives in Colorado; Tacha is a Lawrence resident.

They sought funding from KU Endowment and designed a program that would better prepare 20 select second-year students for challenging academic opportunities.

Today, 600 University Scholars Program alumni are scattered across the state, continent and globe — many in research or academic positions and others serving in leadership roles. University Scholars Program alumni include

— Three Rhodes Scholars among KU’s 25 recipients
— Nine Marshall Scholars
— 24 Mellon Fellows
— 12 Harry S. Truman Scholarship winners among KU’s 16 recipients
— 23 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winners among KU’s 47 recipients
— Four Jacob K. Javits Fellows among KU’s five recipients
— Three Morris K. Udall Scholarship winners among KU’s 16 recipients
— One Winston Churchill Foundation Scholarship winner

Three faculty members who taught University Scholars Program seminars and four alumni of the program will share their memories of the program with those in attendance at the banquet. The three instructors are Bob Antonio, professor of sociology, who taught the seminar in 1988 with an emphasis on modernism; Beth Schultz, retired English professor, who centered her seminar on the question “What is the Good Life?” in spring 1990; and Bill Tuttle, retired American studies professor, who taught “Moral Dilemmas: Case Studies in Race, Childhood and History” in spring 2003. The four alumni are Rhodes Scholar Munro Richardson, a 1993 graduate in East Asian languages and cultures, now vice president of education with the Kauffman Foundation; Whitney Baker, a 1994 graduate in chemistry and Spanish, currently conservator for KU Libraries; C. Bryan Young, a 1995 graduate in civil engineering, now associate professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering at KU; and Aroop Pal, a 1998 graduate in biology, currently assistant professor of internal medicine at KU Medical Center.

This spring, 20 new University Scholars will attend an interdisciplinary seminar on “Modernity,” taught by John Gronbeck-Tedesco, professor of theatre. The original seminar was titled “Map of Knowledge” and patterned after a course offered at Oxford University in Britain.

In recent years, seminar topics have included “The Rhetoric of the Nobel Prize,” taught by Diana Carlin, professor of communication studies; “Kansas City: The Biography of a City,” taught by Jonathan Earle, associate professor of history; and “Law and Society,” taught by Steven McAllister, professor of law. McAllister’s group spent spring break in Washington, D.C., where they heard a case at the Supreme Court and met with several justices.

Funds for University Scholars Program are managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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