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CLAS alum among recipients of KU Alumni Association's Fred Ellsworth Medallion

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

LAWRENCE — The 2016 recipients of the Fred Ellsworth Medallion for extraordinary service to the University of Kansas are Jill Sadowsky Docking of Wichita and Allyn Risley of Houston. The KU Alumni Association will honor them Sept. 9 during the fall meeting of the Association’s national board of directors. 

Since 1975, the medallions have recognized KU volunteers who have continued the tradition of service established by Ellsworth, a 1922 KU graduate who was the Association’s chief executive for 39 years, retiring in 1963. 

Docking, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1978, has been a steadfast advocate for the university and for higher education in Kansas. She served on the Kansas Board of Regents from 2007 to ’10 and led the board as chair during her last year of service. As a member of Jayhawks for Higher Education, she has consistently advocated for KU. She was also an original member of Kansas Citizens for Higher Education.  

Her commitment to the Alumni Association has been unwavering, as evidenced by her five-year appointment to the national board of directors and her service on its executive committee from 2004 to 2006. As a donor and keynote speaker, she has contributed to the Kansas Honors Program, the Alumni Association’s longstanding tradition of recognizing academically talented high school seniors throughout the state, and she has helped guide the Association’s Wichita alumni network. Docking and her husband, Tom, are longtime Alumni Association life members and Presidents Club donors and regularly participate in local alumni events and fundraisers, including the Jayhawk Roundup in Wichita and the Rock Chalk Ball in Kansas City.

“The depth and breadth of Jill’s service has unquestionably strengthened KU,” said Heath Peterson, president of the Alumni Association. “She is a steadfast advocate, adviser, philanthropist and volunteer for the University of Kansas. Notably, her advocacy and leadership in higher education has been and will continue to be critical for the future of Kansas.”

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate in history, Docking was honored in 2003 by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences for distinguished achievement, and in 2010 she was recognized as a distinguished alumna of the School of Business, where she earned her master’s degree in business administration in 1984. She served on the business school’s board of advisers for five years in the early ’90s and also served on the board for the Hall Center for the Humanities.
For KU Endowment, Docking is a trustee, KU First donor and Chancellors Club member, and she and Tom helped lead the Far Above campaign as co-chairs. She served on the Women Philanthropists for KU advisory board as well as the KU Medical Center and 4-Wichita advancement boards. The Dockings also were funding partners of the KU Cancer Center in the university’s successful quest for National Cancer Institute designation in 2012. For Kansas Athletics, the Dockings are members of the Williams Education Fund. 

Risley, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the School of Engineering in 1972, has shown outstanding dedication to KU on national and local levels. He served on the Alumni Association’s national board of directors from 2002 to ’07, and he was a volunteer and officer for the Association’s Houston alumni network for several years. His KU service in Texas earned him the Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award in 2010. 

He has recruited KU students in Texas as a HAWK (Helpful Alumni Working for KU) volunteer and served as a ’Hawk to ’Hawk mentor. He hosted and participated in numerous alumni and athletic events in Houston and attended the Rock Chalk Ball in Kansas City.

“Allyn has helped build an outstanding alumni network in Houston and has provided tremendous leadership on the Hill in many areas,” Peterson said. “His passion for KU is evident in his support of scholarships, programs, capital projects, engineering, athletics and the Alumni Association. He loves and supports all of KU and, by doing so, has added value to the KU degree.”

Risley and his wife, Jill, are Alumni Association life members and contribute annually to the Presidents Club. They also have provided $50,000 to establish the Risley Family Texas Programs Endowment for the Alumni Association.

As a student, Risley belonged to the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and he has continued his leadership of the School of Engineering since graduating. He is a member of the school’s advisory board and was inducted in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Hall of Fame in 2002. He was part of the SELF Engineering Fellows speaker series in 2011 and served as a keynote speaker for the KU Energy Conference. The school honored him with its Distinguished Engineering Service Award in 2011. 

For KU Endowment, Risley is a Chancellors Club and Mount Oread Society Life Member and a member of the School of Engineering Dean’s Club. He has served as a longtime fundraiser and contributor to the school through Campaign Kansas and KU First, and he chaired the Far Above engineering campaign committee. He helped fund the renovation of the undergraduate petroleum engineering laboratory and has provided support to help hire key faculty members and enhance the SELF Engineering Fellows’ international experience. He also contributed to the construction of the new Earth, Energy and Environment Center on campus. 

For Kansas Athletics, he helped organize KU’s participation in the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Awards, and the Risleys contribute to the Williams Education Fund. They also are Friends of the KU Libraries. 

Since 1975, 155 KU alumni and friends have received the Fred Ellsworth Medallion.