LAWRENCE — KU’s Wheat State Tour is back. Twenty-five University of Kansas faculty and staff will take a weekend journey across Kansas to explore the state’s history, economy, culture and geography.
“We’re so glad to be able to deepen our knowledge of Kansas and bring back one of the events that has been so positive for KU in the past,” said Giselle Anatol, interim director of the Hall Center for the Humanities.
This year’s tour takes place Nov. 10-11, with stops at Wilson, home to the state’s largest Czech population; the grassroots arts scene of Lucas; and historic Nicodemus, the last all-Black settlement west of the Mississippi River.
Nicodemus was a migration point for formerly enslaved people in the late 1800s. The group’s visit there will be guided by historian Angela Bates, one of the descendants of the early settlers of Nicodemus. “Bates is retiring soon, so we are very fortunate to have her lead us,” Anatol said. “She’s a Kansas treasure.”
The first Wheat State Tours began two decades ago and were designed to take faculty and staff, many new to Kansas, throughout the state to gain a better understanding of where many of their students come from and to learn more about the state they serve. Over the years, participants have included faculty and staff from the Lawrence campus, KU Medical Center in Kansas City and the KU School of Medicine-Wichita.
During the tour, faculty and staff will engage in discussions with Kansans to develop ideas about how the university can be of further assistance to the Wheat State. Along the way, participants get a chance to share their expertise with colleagues from other disciplines as well as with community members.
“I am so excited to be able to revitalize the program this year,” Anatol said. “I’m grateful to the donors who believe in the relevance of programs like this; there’s great potential for building bridges.”
Recommendations for future tour stops are welcome. Contact KU’s Hall Center for the Humanities at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions.
Photo: Angela Bates, who spoke at KU in September about the origins of Nicodemus, will lead a group tour of the town for faculty and staff from the university.