LAWRENCE — An attorney, a legal scholar and a federal judge will be recognized with the University of Kansas School of Law’s highest honor.
Great Bend attorney Larry Keenan, Class of 1954; KU Law Professor John Peck, Class of 1974, and U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil, Class of 1975, will receive the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award, which celebrates graduates for their professional achievements, contributions to the legal field and service to their communities and the university. The awards will be presented at a private dinner April 16 in Lawrence.
After completing his joint undergraduate and law degree in 1954, Larry Keenan served for three years in the U.S. Army JAG Corps. He returned home to Great Bend in 1958 to practice with his older brother at the Keenan Law Firm, where he still practices today. Keenan served as Barton County Attorney for four years and is a past chairman and member of the Farmers Bank & Trust Board of Directors. He currently serves as president of Globe Exploration Inc. in Great Bend. Keenan is an avid supporter of his alma mater and a past president and lifelong member of the KU Law Board of Governors.
John Peck received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Kansas State University in 1968. After working for three years for the U.S. Public Health Service and the EPA in Washington, D.C., he began law school at KU, where he was an articles editor for the Kansas Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif in 1974. Peck practiced for four years with Everett, Seaton, Peck in Manhattan, then joined the KU Law faculty in 1978. A recognized authority on Kansas water law, Peck teaches contracts, land transactions, water law and family law and has received numerous teaching accolades. He is a member of the KU Law Dean’s Club and a past Medallion recipient and serves as chair of the Rice Scholarship Committee. In addition to his tenured faculty position, Peck is special counsel to Foulston Siefkin LLP, where his focus includes water and real estate law. He has been listed in the Best Lawyers of America in the areas of natural resources law and water law since 2003.
Judge Kathryn Vratil graduated from KU with an American studies degree in 1971. She completed law school in 1975 at KU, where she served on the Kansas Law Review and was named to the Order of the Coif. Following graduation she clerked for Judge Earl O’Connor for three years on the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, then practiced commercial and business litigation law for 14 years with Lathrop & Gage, serving as municipal judge for Prairie Village for two years. In 1992, Vratil was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas by President George W. Bush, becoming the first woman to serve on the court. She was named chief judge in 2008 and served in that capacity until she assumed senior status in 2014. Vratil is an active member of the legal community and devoted supporter of her alma mater. She has served two terms on KU Law’s Board of Governors, was named to the KU Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013 and has served on the advisory board for the Emily Taylor Women’s Resource Center (now the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity) since 2009.
View previous Distinguished Alumni Award recipients on the law school’s website.
Distinguished Alumni Award recipients will be honored along with 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:
- Bion J. Beebe, Class of 1976, and Vicki Storm Beebe
- The Belin Foundation
- Judge Daniel D. Crabtree, Class of 1981, and Maureen Mahoney, Class of 1984
- Steve Davis and Kim Bowen Davis, Class of 1978
- Jeanne Gorman, Class of 1978
- Ross Hartley, Class of 1974, and Christine Ness Hartley
- Mark Hegarty, Class of 1990, and Janelle Hegarty
- Martin, Pringle, Oliver, Wallace & Bauer LLP
- S. Lee Meigs Taylor, Class of 1982
- Patrick Stueve, Class of 1987, and Janna Stueve
- James Walters, Class of 1975, and Mary Clayton Walters.