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Cody Howard
School of Engineering
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Degree recipient to attend engineering ceremony for coursework completed before WWII

Mon, 12/09/2013

LAWRENCE — Sixty-six students will be recognized for earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas School of Engineering at the school’s 2013 fall recognition ceremony Saturday, Dec. 14, at Murphy Hall. A 67th degree will be formally awarded that day to a student who first arrived on campus more than 70 years ago.

Warren Spikes enrolled at KU in the summer of 1942 and worked toward a degree in petroleum engineering until the U.S. Army drafted him in 1945, just a few credits shy of earning his diploma. The Army then sent Spikes to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., for six months to study civil engineering. Despite the extra education, Spikes never transferred the college credits back to KU.

Earlier this fall, Warren’s son, Kirk, researched his father’s case for receiving his degree from KU, keeping his efforts a secret from his dad. Kirk obtained his father’s records from Rutgers and asked KU to review all the information to see if he’d completed the requirements to earn a degree. Officials in KU’s Registrar’s Office and Engineering Dean’s Office reviewed the transcripts and determined Spikes is eligible for a degree based on the KU curriculum in 1945.

Warren’s family and friends surprised him with the news that he’s now an official KU graduate at a party for his 90th birthday over the Thanksgiving holiday in his hometown of Hugoton, located in southwestern Kansas. He turned 90 on Dec. 4.

“At first I thought they were pulling a big joke on me. I was really surprised. I had no idea this was coming, but it’s certainly an honor,” Spikes said.

In addition to pursuing his degree in petroleum engineering during his time on campus in the 1940s, Spikes loved to play basketball. He starred on his high school team and at Garden City Junior College, and when he arrived at KU, he drew the attention of the basketball coaching staff.

“We were playing intramurals in Robinson Gym, and I was playing pretty well. I was a good passer,” Spikes said. “I heard that somebody went and asked Phog Allen to come and take a look. I was told he watched for a couple of minutes and decided I wasn’t tall enough or fast enough, so that was that. But I still love basketball, and I watch KU every chance I get.”

After his time at Rutgers, the Army sent Spikes west to begin training for an invasion of Japan. His unit stopped in Hawaii for final preparations for their attack, and the day before they were due to set sail, the Japanese surrendered. Spikes spent a year in Japan as part of the Allied Forces occupation of the island nation following the official end of World War II.

At the end of his military service, he returned to southwest Kansas. He had a long, successful and diverse career in fields ranging from farming, ranching and other agricultural businesses to oil and gas ventures. He’s also a trained pilot.

“When I came home, I knew I could go back and finish in one semester, but I was just too busy to come back and finish it up. It’s something I kind of regretted over the years, so to have this now is an honor,” Spikes said.

The degree awarded to Spikes strengthens the family’s ties to KU, now spanning three generations of graduates. The diploma is now proudly displayed in his home.

“It’s right there on the wall next to pictures of my grandkids and great-grandkids,” Spikes said.

The ceremony begins at 9 a.m. Dec. 14 in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre of Murphy Hall. A reception for all graduates and their guests will follow in Eaton Hall.



Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

#KUstudents , faculty & staff: The Rec is closed due to a water main break. More info: http://t.co/JoW7azXzmv For updates: @KUAmblerRec
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See http://bit.ly/1xjjwJj). For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See http://bit.ly/1BoL9jv) The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (http://bit.ly/14fiBPl), associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.


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