Governor Nixon, Mayor James, County Executive Sanders, President Wolfe, former chancellors, Benefactors, Friends, Alumni, Faculty, Staff, Students, Honored Guests, People of Greater Kansas City, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good morning – I am pleased to report that the state of UMKC is one we can all be proud of.
You see, eighty years ago, in the depths of the Great Depression, Kansas City leaders set out on a great mission. I guess some may have called it “a crazy mission,” given the tough times.
But, those leaders believed with all their hearts in a powerful, yet simple idea. If Kansas City was to overcome the tough times; if Kansas City was to become the great city its leaders knew it could be; it must have a great university. So, on that momentous day, 80 years ago, those visionary leaders founded the University of Kansas City.
Eighty years ago, 265 students made history when they started their first day of classes on the fledgling campus.
Back then, this campus was considered the suburbs – 40 acres of land donated by KC businessman and philanthropist William Volker – on what was basically the front lawn of the William Rockhill Nelson estate, or, what we know today as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
The students attended lectures in the first classroom building, the former Dickey estate, which later became known as Scofield Hall.
From that start, perhaps only a few could foresee the great force this university would become in the life of Kansas City.
Yet here we are today. Stronger than ever. Living proof that a great university can help make a city great. Living proof that we have fulfilled the founders’ vision. A great university. Kansas City’s university.
The impact of UMKC on this community today is undeniable. I have seen it and felt it many times since I moved here 25 years ago, and even more as chancellor for the past 5 years. That first bold idea from our founders grew into a powerful beacon of light that still shines into almost every corner of Kansas City. Continue reading