Monday, April 21, 2014

Matt Kleinmann takes liking to teaching

Former Kansas basketball center in first year as adjunct architecture prof at KU

Kansas senior Matt Kleinmann warms up before taking on Texas in his last regular season game as a Jayhawk on Saturday, March 7, 2009.

Kansas senior Matt Kleinmann warms up before taking on Texas in his last regular season game as a Jayhawk on Saturday, March 7, 2009.


Former Kansas University basketball center Matt Kleinmann used to stay awake for as many as 72 hours at a time preparing class projects in his chosen field of architecture.

Just a few years removed from his own 2009 graduation day, the 6-foot-10 Kleinmann now watches in amazement as his own students at KU show the same determination in the classroom.

Yes, Kleinmann, who traveled the world while attending graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis — he stood on the Great Wall of China as the Jayhawks tipped it up in the 2010 NCAA Tournament — then worked three years as an architect for Helix Architecture and Design in Kansas City, is completing his first year as an adjunct professor of architecture at KU.

“When I was in school, it was hard to manage basketball and architecture at the same time. For me, I’m impressed by my students. They are managing their academics and have jobs, sometimes they have children,” Kleinmann said. “I had it easy. I had a real good advocate with coach (Bill) Self stressing academics first. Now on the other end of it, it’s learning about how to be flexible and keep guys motivated and keep working hard.”

Kleinmann, who was a guest instructor in architecture classes from time to time while working at Helix, received a job offer at KU for this school year.

“When I was at KU, teaching was something that was very much devoted toward its own endeavor. When I was at Washington in St. Louis, teaching was a concurrent thing for a lot of faculty ... being able to work summers or on weekends and evenings and actually have a business. I was kind of surprised by that,” noted Kleinmann, who is about to launch his own videography company that is focused on storytelling with architectural projects in mind.

“I’m early in my career. There’s a lot of opportunity,” Kleinmann added. “There’s a lot of new ideas emerging about how design and education work. I think it’s an exciting place for me to be at now. I get a chance to explore issues I’m interested in.”

In his Designing Sustainable Futures course, students are faced with the task of “developing a community-based approach to grassroots tactical urbanism as a model for sustainability.”

As such, Better Block Lawrence is an event that supports local redevelopment efforts along Ninth Street, between Connecticut and New Jersey streets.

Kleinmann indicated the class has the blessing of the Lawrence Arts Center, the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association and a number of grassroots arts groups and individuals. A rally that will include artists, music and food will be held 6-10 p.m. Friday, with further information available at and

“We’re trying to give back and sort of work with communities and neighborhood associations and look at ways of design the university can affect the community in a positive way,” Kleinmann said.

He has been able to keep ties with KU athletics. He attended several basketball games this past season with his fiancee and watched KU’s individual workouts last week.

“It’s been a great experience to come full-circle,” Kleinmann said. “I’ve been able to help out a little bit with the K-Club board. I’ve run into coach (Self) a couple times. I got to watch individuals the other day. I talked to Russell (Robinson) and Mario (Little). Watching the individuals, it reminds me how far I’m removed from it. It’s been five years now. It seems like five decades sometimes.”

Self visits Turner: Self on Sunday visited Myles Turner, a 6-foot-11 senior center from Trinity High in Euless, Texas, who is ranked No. 6 nationally by Turner’s dad, David, told the visit was “great” and praised Self and assistant Norm Roberts, who made the in-home. Turner will choose between KU, Texas, SMU, Duke, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M; on April 30 on ESPNU. ... Devonte Graham, a 6-2 senior from Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, completed his campus visit to KU on Sunday. After returning home, Graham tweeted: “Had a great visit at KU .. Happy to be home now ! Happy Easter Everyone.”


Suzi Marshall 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for running this story. Really pleased Self brings quality guys like this into the program.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 7 months ago

Congratulations to Big Red on the KU job and the new startup.

Sounds like a great opportunity to make Lawrence his home in more ways than one. It's also a great opportunity for Bill Self to have Matt Kleinmann so close to the program. He's one former Jayhawk who was always student first. Kleinmann will be a great role model to some young student athletes.

It was just brutal determination for him to be able to earn the most demanding degree the university has to offer while also fulfilling all of his basketball obligations. He sacrificed a lot for his degree, including the opportunity to ever be more than a valuable practice player at KU. I believe that had he not had the Architecture studio courses, he could have potentially worked his way into being a rotation guy late in his basketball career.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 7 months ago

As a fellow graduate of the KU School of Architecture ['71], I have inside knowledge and experience of the tremendously uphill challenge of obtaining an architectural degree....WITHOUT the SMALL distraction of full time Division 1 basketball!!!!

What Matt has accomplished was basically similar to working an 9 to 5 job then driving a truck from dusk to dawn.

Trust me on this, everyone..there aren't many architects who happen to also be NCAA Champions. Matt, keep up the good work...and show a little mercy on those Project Jury Reviews. :)

Dirk Medema 7 years, 7 months ago

A buddy was the first arch/T&F/X-County to earn his degree back in the 80's as a mostly non-schol. Probably the only combination tougher than Matt's. Many props to him.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 7 months ago

Regarding the KU visit to Turner family this weekend.

All I can say is that for a Multi-National Coach of the Year and his top Assistant Big Man Coach to show up at my house on Easter Sunday for an in-home visit, I would think that that school wants my son pretty badly.

This meeting is a continuation of the great on-campus visit the Turners had a couple of months ago. Between Coach Self, Coach Roberts, Cliff, Kelly, Jo Jo, the rest of the Jayhawk team, Andrea and Kansas Nation, if Myles ends up going somewhere else then it just wasn't meant to be.

I don't think KU could do anything more in welcoming Myles to our program. Let's hope it works out the best for all.

Robert Brock 7 years, 7 months ago

He will choose Texas just because of his Kevin Durant fantasy.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 7 months ago

Why are you inside Turner's fantasy world?

John Randall 7 years, 7 months ago

To become league MVP on a second place team?

Jack Jones 7 years, 7 months ago

Cheer up, Terry ~ sorry things didn't work out for you.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 7 months ago

It takes an advanced degree, which Matt got at Washington U, to be a prof. Work experience is extra, and having your own start-up is hardly rookie work.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 7 months ago

There's also a difference between being an adjunct professor and a tenured professor.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 7 months ago

my first class in ChemE my sophomore year my professor was in his first year with a phD, 26 years old, and you could tell that he wasn't all that comfortable yet in the classroom, but he did just fine and was very relatable and approachable to the class. He's done just fine and so have I.

Carolyn Hunzicker 7 years, 7 months ago


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