LAWRENCE – Three University of Kansas School of Law alumni will receive the law school’s highest alumni honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, this year. The award celebrates graduates for their professional achievements, contributions to the legal field and service to their community and the university.
David Elkouri, Janet Justus and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran will receive the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award at a private dinner April 1 in Lawrence.
David Elkouri, L’78, has spent the last 12 years of his career serving as executive vice president and general counsel of two Houston-based, publicly traded corporations, Petrohawk Energy Corporation (Petrohawk) and Battalion Oil Corporation (formerly Halcon Resources Corporation). As one of the key members of the executive management team of Petrohawk, he was instrumental in growing the company from an initial investment of $60 million in 2004 into a company with a $15 billion enterprise value before it was sold in an all-cash transaction to BHP Billiton in 2011. Elkouri has been listed numerous times by “Best Lawyers in America” and has consistently been named a “Super Lawyer” in the areas of mergers, acquisitions and corporate governance. He has been a frequent speaker on topics involving corporate law and complex transactions. Elkouri served several terms on the Law School board of governors and taught a course on business transactions at KU Law. He served on the Wichita Airport Authority for eight years and was president for three years. He has been active in numerous other charitable and public boards over the years on the local, national and international levels.
Janet Justus, L’81, has more than 25 years of experience in sports law and higher education as an NCAA national office senior administrator, law firm counsel, consultant and university athletics administrator. During her 15 years with the NCAA, Justus held several leadership positions, including director of eligibility where she was the first woman director on the enforcement staff. She was the director of education outreach and produced the inaugural NCAA Achieving Gender-Equity Guide. Justus also served as the national spokesperson for the NCAA on Title IX and gender equity issues. Justus directed the development and growth of several NCAA program areas including Title IX education and advocacy, the National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills Program and student-athlete eligibility appeals. Her leadership within the national office and respect among NCAA member institutions influenced policies and legislation that made the association more gender-equitable and student-athlete centered. Justus received the Alumni Achievement Award from KU, was named the NACWAA (now Women Leaders in College Sports) National Administrator of the Year, was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the United States Sports Academy, was named the WIN for KC/Greater Kansas City Sports Commission Mentor of the Year and received the Kansas City Harmony Humanitarian of the Year award.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, L’82, has served Kansans in the U.S. Senate since 2011. He represented Kansas’ 1st Congressional District for seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served eight years in the Kansas State Senate – spending the last two years as a majority leader. In addition to his 14 years practicing law, Moran has served as the state special assistant attorney general of Kansas, the deputy county attorney of Rooks County and assistant county attorney for Ellis County. He also served as an adjunct professor of political science at Fort Hays State University. Moran is admitted to practice law in the state and federal courts of Kansas and the United States. In the U.S. Senate, Moran is currently a senior member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations; the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He serves as the ranking member of one full committee and two subcommittees – the most of any member in the Senate. He is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; and the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation.
Previous Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are listed on the law school’s website.
The law school will also recognize James Woods Green Medallion honorees and members of the Dean’s Club. Named after the school’s first dean, the medallion recognizes the school’s major financial supporters. This year’s honorees include:
- Colleen Andreas
- Michael Blumenthal, L’92, and Julie Blumenthal
- Edmund Gross, L’80, and Michiko Miyamori Gross
- Shane Hamilton and Rachel St. John
- Judith Watson Waugh
- Robert Werner, L’83, Rebecca Winterscheidt, L’83
- Mark White, L’85.