[The following was provided by the Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications.]
Chancellor Leo E. Morton has been named “Kansas Citian of the Year” by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
The honor, presented annually since 1960, recognizes “those persons whose civic contributions and achievements have reflected the insight, creativity and consciousness necessary to build and maintain a quality urban community.” It was presented at the Chamber’s annual dinner gala at the Kansas City Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom. Morton, who was unaware of the honor in advance, was visibly shocked by the announcement.
“You folks can’t know how much I love this city,” Morton told the more than 1,900 guests in attendance. “Every day I ask God to bless me so that I can help others.”
Morton was introduced with a series of video tributes by leaders such as Henry W. Bloch, Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn and former University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee; tributes were also offered by UMKC students and by Morton’s son, Leo Morton, Jr. Morton joined several previous winners of the award on stage for photographs, including Bloch, Shirley and Barnett C. Helzberg, Jr., Robert D. Regnier and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II.
“Leo is the epitome of civic and community leadership, and everything he does is done with grace and style,” said Jim Heeter, president and chief executive officer of the KC Chamber. “He has been personally involved in each of our Big 5 initiatives and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his leadership in what I know will be a successful effort to create a new downtown arts campus next to our fabulous Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Leo is a perfect choice to join the prestigious ranks of Kansas Citians of the Year.”
Morton was named UMKC’s chancellor on Dec. 15, 2008. Prior to assuming the chancellorship, he worked at Aquila Inc., joining the firm in January 1994 as vice president, performance management. He was named senior vice president in 1996 with responsibility for re-engineering, corporate procurement and environmental services. Morton assumed additional duties for the management of human resources in 1997 and information technology in 1998. He was named senior vice president and chief administrative officer in 2000 as he also assumed responsibility for additional corporate services.
Morton has been a UMKC Trustee since 2000 and was in his third year as chairman of the Trustees Board when he stepped down to serve as the university’s interim chancellor. Previously, he was a member on UMKC’s Center for the City board and chaired the community relations committee of the Trustees.