A gala Commemoration Day event at the University of Missouri-Kansas City will include a landmark State of the University address delivered by Chancellor Leo E. Morton and a reenactment of the signing of the UMKC charter featuring a stellar lineup of alumni and community civic leaders.
The Commemoration Day event will be held in Swinney Recreation Center’s Gymnasium Tues. Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. It is the culmination of the year-long 80th anniversary celebration for Kansas City’s university. The anniversary celebration has been co-chaired by alumni Peggy Dunn, Mayor of Leawood; and James B. Steele, two-time Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative reporter.
According to organizers, the event will “tell the story of UMKC – a story of partnerships, progress, expansion and education.”
Highlights of the event include a ceremonial re-signing of the university’s original charter by current civic, elected and alumni leadership; and the first-ever “State of the University” address by Chancellor Leo E. Morton. The address will look back over the university’s 80 years of service as Kansas City’s university; his five-year tenure as chancellor; and his vision for the university’s future.
The event will also include a surprise announcement relating to President Harry S Truman’s historic on-campus speech outside Scofield Hall in 1945, when he stopped to accept an honorary doctorate while making his way from the signing of the original United Nations charter in San Francisco to the Potsdam Conference with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin in Germany.
Non-speaking “atmospheric actors” in 1930s period costume will stroll the campus as audience members arrive. The event will begin with a video “virtual tour” using a Point-of-View camera to take the audience through the campus, viewing old and new buildings and stopping periodically to hear from a student, alumnus or civic leader. The tour concludes with a virtual ribbon-cutting for the two newest campus buildings: The Miller Nichols Learning Center and the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The University of Kansas City was chartered in 1929, and one year later, Kansas City businessman and philanthropist William Volker donated 40.8 acres to the university. In 1931, Volker acquired and donated the Dickey mansion (now Scofield Hall), which would house the first library, classrooms, cafeteria and administrative offices. UKC’s first classes began in 1933 with 17 instructors and 265 students enrolled. In 1936, 80 students became UKC’s first graduating class.