School of Education & Human Sciences to honor 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Education and Human Sciences will honor two of its alumni with one of its top awards this spring. Matt Enyart and Scot Pollard will be recognized with the 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award on Friday, May 10 at the school’s spring convocation ceremony at the Lied Center of Kansas.

Matt Enyart

Enyart earned his master’s degree in special education from the School of Education & Human Sciences at KU in 2009.

After earning his master’s degree, Enyart accumulated nearly 30 years of experience in quality-of-life-driven work. His pursuit of knowledge and making a difference led him to embark on an Ed.D. program in the School, focusing on Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), Positive Behavior Support (PBS), and quality of life research.

Enyart previously directed the training and research efforts of the Kansas Institute for Positive Behavior Support (KIPBS) and the Positive Kansas Communities (PKC) Network. He also created an organization named TASK (Training and Advocacy Supports of Kansas LLC) through which he oversaw case management for individuals with disabilities, as well as providing consultation and training statewide in both Oregon and Iowa. With the support of the University of Kansas and the State of Kansas, Enyart founded the Kansas Institute for Positive, Healthy, and Inclusive Communities (KIPHIC). As the executive director of KIPHIC, Enyart continued to lead research and training efforts across various projects, all aimed at building positive, healthy, and inclusive communities in Kansas.

His work extended beyond academic institutions, and Enyart’s spirit of compassion led him to make a profound difference in the lives of families and children in the LGBTQIA+ community. He was the founder of Rainbow Kids and Family, a nonprofit organization that provided direct support, love, and acceptance to families in need.

In addition to his professional achievements, Enyart cherished his role as a father and stepfather. He and his loving and devoted partner, Kris Matthews, worked tirelessly to create a better world so their family could be a part of the inclusive and supportive community he knew was possible.

Enyart peacefully passed away surrounded by his loving family on July 13, 2023, after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). A Celebration of Life Service was held on August 26, 2023, at the White Schoolhouse in north Lawrence, Kansas.

“We, in the Department of Special Education, are deeply honored to have known him and to have shared in his work. He was a relentless advocate and is deeply missed,” said Jennifer A. Kurth, chair and associate professor in the Department of Special Education, in an article for the Lawrence Times.

Scot Pollard 

Pollard is a former professional basketball player, actor, and television personality who earned his bachelor’s degree from the School of Education and Human Sciences at KU in 1997. His professional athletic career spanned eleven years from 1997 to 2008, during which he played for five teams: starting as a first-round draft pick with the Detroit Pistons, followed by five years with Sacramento Kings, three with the Indiana Pacers, one with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and one with the Boston Celtics, with whom he won an NBA Championship during his final year as a player. Pollard advanced to the NBA Playoffs every season except for his first.

Additionally, Pollard served in a variety of roles in the sports and entertainment industries, including as commentator for KU local television, pre- and post-game show coverage for FOX, and radio color analyst. His film and television credits include Survivor, Barrio Tales,

Destination Planet Negro, Axeman, and Jayhawkers. He has delivered numerous motivational speeches to private companies, elementary, middle and high schools, university classes, and sports audiences.

From 2013 to 2019, Pollard and his wife, Dawn Pollard, partnered with the School of Education and Human Sciences and the late Gale Sayers to organize the Gale Sayers & Scot Pollard Golf Classic, an annual event benefiting the Multicultural Scholars Program at KU. In addition, from 2014-2020, the Pollards sponsored the School of Education & Human Sciences Bowling Tournament Fundraiser, which benefitted student supports within the school.

One of Pollard’s most significant personal journeys in recent years involved becoming the recipient of heart transplant in February 2024 after several years of health issues further complicated by a contracted virus. In honor of his openness about his transplant journey and advocacy for organ donation, Pollard was recognized by the Midwest Transplant Network as a Green Ribbon Champion during National Donate Life Month in 2024.

“Scot has been active in supporting the School of Education and Human Sciences through fundraising and student support events,” said Rick Ginsberg, dean of the school. “He is a well-known graduate and sports figure who selflessly gives his time to support our school, our students, and now as an advocate for organ donations.”

About the Award

The Distinguished Alumni Awards are the highest honor the School of Education and Human Sciences bestows upon its alumni. Award recipients demonstrate ongoing, exceptional professional, academic or research achievement and contribution to the community at the local, state, national or international levels.