Homecoming Parade

Warren and Mary Corman, recipients of the 1912 Spirit Award, wave to the crowd of the 2019 homecoming parade.

The walls of University of Kansas alumni Warren and Mary Corman's basement are covered with framed certificates, degrees and numerous awards pertaining to architecture and design.

And now, they have another to add to their collection. 

The two have recently been awarded the Rich and Judy Billings Spirit Award of 1912, a homecoming award given out once a year to alumni that display loyalty and dedication to the University and its traditions.

“It means a lot because we believe in higher education,” Warren said. “And we believe in KU, and we believe they do a good job in that.”

Before attending the University, Warren was called to service in the final stages of World War II. After that, he went back to school and graduated in 1950.

Warren has shown his dedication to his alma mater by working for the Kansas Board of Regents. As an architect, he’s also worked on numerous buildings on campus, such as the Hall Center for the Humanities, Eaton Hall and the Dole Institute of Politics.

But he said Allen Fieldhouse feels like home.

“We designed Ahearn Field House for K-State first,” Warren said, “But then Phog Allen got real mad because he thought he ought to get a field house too.”

At this time, Kansas basketball was still playing in Hoch Auditorium, now Budig Hall. Warren said Allen Fieldhouse has become iconic because of Kansas' successful basketball program. 

“It’s nice because of how much tradition is there, and it makes you feel at home,” Warren said. 

Over the years, Warren has seen Allen Fieldhouse evolve and change along with the culture and players. Warren and Mary have been season ticket holders for decades.

They are also involved in multiple KU alumni organizations and have been involved at the University for many years. After graduating, Mary worked at the KU Medical Center for a little over a decade as director of medical records. Warren worked for the Kansas Board of Regents for roughly three decades, and in the late 1990s became a University architect.

Both Warren and Mary had lost their spouses before meeting. The two met at a Christmas party put on by the OB-GYN chair at the med center. 

“It had been a couple of years since my husband had passed away, and I hadn’t really gone out much after,” Mary said, “Then Warren crashed the party.”

But Warren said it happened otherwise. 

“No, I was invited by somebody, not the person who threw the party but someone who was attending,” Warren said.

The two were introduced, got married a few months later and have been married for 40 years.

Throughout their marriage, the two have become very involved with the University. In 2011, Warren was the grand marshal in the homecoming parade because he was to retire that year. The two are members of the President’s Club, which is an organization that provides new programs for the benefit of the school.

“We really appreciate living in Lawrence and having the opportunity to be around the University,” Mary said. “Being associated with it continues to be a very important part of our lives.